Tupac in the Gully


Tupac in the Gully

Illustration: Riya Rathod


ack in college, summer holidays slipped by in a haze. We were teenagers, newly introduced to the thrill of blowing up allowance cash on contraband, and spent our days lounging in people’s empty flats; smoking, drinking, and pumping out the sickest tunes. I had a few spots of my own that I frequented. I’d show up with some weed, plug in my iPod to the speakers, and sink into a couch listening to fly raps.

Through the haze of the dope smoke, I came across an artist that changed the way I looked at the world: Tupac Shakur. In “Dopefiend’s Diner”, the first song I heard, Tupac sings of Late night coolin’ with my homies / Drinkin’ Hennessey an’ cold brew / After smokin’ stopped in Oakland / Got the munchies for some soul food. It was perfect because this was pretty much my lifestyle. But over the course of one rap, Tupac turned a song about good times into a gritty tale of gun violence in black America. An argument breaks out between a dealer and a fiend, and a senseless shooting over a few dollars worth of crack follows. Pac screams out, “What’s goin’ on?” to a Greek choral intonation of: Another gunshot rings / Another siren rings / Another mother cries / ’Cause another innocent dies.