Allow me to be one of the few to say that when it comes to the canonization of Tupac, I just don't get it. Was Pac nice? Yes...sometimes. Was Pac the nicest? Not by miles. So my question has always been, when professors started using hip-hop in the classromo, what made them pick him? Sure, there are elements of his life that make for hearty discussions, but I still don't get it. (Now, I've never taken one of these courses, so I don't know what the syllabus looks like. It's possible that everything I'm about to say is taken into consideration.) In a discussion of political rap, Tupac comes before Public Enemy and BDP? In a discussion of lyrics, Tupac comes before Rakim? Tupac comes within 20 feet of Rakim? So in the words of Mel Brooks, I'm like a eunuch at an orgy-- I just don't get it. In There's a God on the Mic, Kool Moe Dee provides a possible explanation, saying, "There are many emcees that rhyme better and are better lyricists than Tupac, but none can touch listeners on a mass level like Tupac did...he was like the hip-hop everyman." Being honest, that was a possibility I had not considered because Tupac never reached me like that. But to extend on Moe Dee's assessment, I think that the main thing that made people relate to Tupac was his passion. Tupac seemed to write from emotion and adrenaline, as opposed to writing (and rapping) as a pure display of skill. In that sense, I guess you could say that Tupac was real. In the sense that most people mean when they say "real," though, I'm not so sure. I know that Tupac became real, but in his case, it's like his life imitated his lyrics instead of vice-versa. I forget whether I read it somewhere or heard it somewhere, so I don't know who to credit with the idea originally, but somebody once said that the beginning of the end for Tupac was when he played Bishop in "Juice." Certainly, the timeline seems to support that, since the "Thug Life" Tupac came after he'd played Bishop. Before that, he was best known for his verse in Digital Underground's "Same Song." Once in a conversation with a friend, I tried to make the distinction between Tupac and Ice Cube, saying that Pac was the gangsta's thinking man while Cube was the thinking man's gangsta. At the time I waffled back and forth on which as which, but at this point, I think it's pretty clear that Ice Cube was the thinking man's gangsta. Primarily because he is still here, thinking. In interviews about the evolution of his career, Ice Cube is quick to point out that he is not 18 any more. The things he wrote on "Straight Outta Compton" were accurate from his perspective then, but he can't talk about the same things in the same way now that he's over 30. I'd like to think that Tupac would've made a similar transition, but he never made it to 30.