Born June 16 1971 and murdered on September 13 1996, Tupac Amaru Shakur was a leader in the world of hip-hop/rap music in his short but eventful life. Born in New York the son of a single mother, herself a former member of the Black Panthers, he was taught at an early age that the most important things in life are respect, knowledge and to speak your mind. He achieved all three of these things in his brief time, spreading his beliefs through his music and his fame. He was the first and only artist to have a number one record while being incarcerated.
This is a very interesting documentary, covering both the aspects of the manís life and the things that he believed in, things such as the black movement in America, poverty and his love of guns. He led a very hectic lifestyle, believing that the best way to combat oppression was to take up arms and fight back.
Convicted of sexual abuse during the height of his fame and spending eight months in jail, he was at his lowest when Death Row Records put up his bail and signed him up to a record deal. He always argued that his conviction was a set up, but did his time regardless, believing he was only convicted because of who he was and his outspoken views on the American establishment.
After attending a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas, Tupac was gunned down in a black BMW, and rushed to hospital. Although this was the second time he had been gunned down, he was not to survive as he did the first time and died six days later at the age of 25. His killers are yet to be brought to justice, just another factor surrounding this controversial character. His music has touched millions around the world and will live on, not only from what was released prior to his death or from what will be released in the future, but also within the hearts of his many fans. Perhaps his impact on American society may not have been as great had he not died in his prime - but that can be said of many artists.
Quincy Jones was one of the producers of this release and he gives his views on the man who publicly attacked him and later became a close friend. One of his daughters dated Tupac and another has a tattoo of the rapper on her arm.
The sad thing for me with this release is that there are no videos of his many hits, as this is purely an interview-based documentary. At times this feature could be construed as propaganda for the black movement and, although Tupacís beliefs in this movement were strong, it seems a little too much at times and should perhaps have focused more on the music. It also struggles hard to prove his innocence in many ways, even though he was proud to promote guns and the need to fight back, proud also of his involvement in the fatal shooting of two policemen and proud to spend most of his life drunk or stoned. As long as you donít take this too seriously and take up arms for the cause, this is quite an informative documentary.
Being a documentary made up of many differing types of footage it is very hard to give a defining view of this transfer. Overall, the footage used is very good. Picture is generally sharp and there are few signs of artefacts, dependent on the footage. Colours are vibrant with good skin tones, and shadow detail is also good. Presented in full frame and therefore not 16x9 enhanced, this transfer is as adequate as it needs to be.
Audio supplied is Dolby Digital 5.1, but it's extremely wasted (as are most of the people on screen). There is very little use of either the front side speakers or the rear speakers in this dialogue driven feature. Audio sync is never a problem; all the swearing comes through nice and clear.
This disc is Pacíd with extras that should satisfy true fans. Apart from a nice booklet that comes with this release there are the following extra features.
Containing thirteen interviews, varying in length up to 35 minutes, this is a very nice feature. Some of the footage used is from the main feature but the majority is basically what didnít make it through the editing process. Interviews contained are with people close to Tupac and offer a great insight into the man, but the best interview here for me is the one where Tupac was only seventeen years old. This interview is the longest, but also the most informative; showing how intelligent he was, displaying greater maturity than most.
Bashida Jones Telephone Interview:
This feature is an audio interview with Bashida Jones and Tupac. The audio is very bad on this but subtitles are provided. This is definitely something that will please fans and runs for almost eight minutes.
Tupacís Reading Library (Text):
This feature lists the many books that were read and analysed by Tupac. Some titles are quite unexpected and show his great thirst for knowledge.
Here we have a ton of pictures of varying quality taken from the main feature. I actually found this feature to drag on too long but fans may enjoy it.
As it says, this text biography details the man himself, what he stood for and how he lived his life. Very informative.
Apart from a thankyou, this feature is simply a couple of web links.
Overall this is a great buy for fans with plenty of features. The sad thing for me was that no video clips or discography were included, perhaps intended for a separate release at a later stage. People that are not fans or have no interest in rap music or the American black movement will soon find this documentary boring. The preachy style it comes across in will also annoy others, but if you can keep an open mind and accept that this is only one side to a story then you should find this informative, if nothing else. Peace!