“All Eyez On Me” the bio-pic effort about late rapper Tupac Shakur, now in theaters, tries to give us a surface taste of all that the artist accomplished in his short life and the demons he wrestled with in his artistic and personal life, all of them personified by the people he surrounded himself with, many times not by choice. He was 25 years old when he was murdered in Las Vegas in 1996. There are many reasons why this film is not what people expect or appreciate, and that is because in order to fully capture Tupac’s life, his story would have to be told as a trilogy or a TV episodic series.
Although the film is 2 hour and 19 minutes, it feels hurried because they tried to reimagine what seem to be all the major events that are important to the folks that follow him, especially the youth. This film seems to have been produced for a very specific audience, the youth that adore his message and his persona, to them this is an important film. It tries to avoid judgment and paint him in the best light while his actions contradict the seemingly caring and thoughtful artist they hope to portray, but Tupac himself won’t allow that.
His life was full of complexity and contradiction, educators use his music to connect to youth at risk and otherwise and politicians and preachers vilify him for his actions. It is rough truth that is spewed out constantly to warn those that will emulate him, in another scene his mother tells him something that many may agree with when confronting the brutality the justice system engages in the inner cities; “they are going to give you the tools that you need to destroy yourself. “
The film is peppered with messages that are meant to give people pause. As many struggle to help youth and others find their voice, there is a powerful scene where Tupac’s mother looks at him in the eyes and reminds him, “I did not raise you to be silent,” as with many films based on rappers, there is a lot of misogyny and personal violence. The complexity of living in an environment where much of the systematic police control is exercised to its most violent creates a need to compartmentalize the experiences that unfold daily, this film, in the vain of Straight Out of Compton, Boyz in the Hood, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs and In the Heat of the Night, is about justice denied and about over coming obstacles that were designed to manage and derail those that are not accepted but are talented and defiant. The inner city, as one conversation goes, should be described as the outer city, as those residents are left out of everything, if anyone doubts that, just take a drive. This is an American story and will make an impact on those that are looking for a way to find their own voice in the stories told by those that do not understand them, because other frequently told stories are not for them but about them.