This is heart-breaking!
On June 16, hip hop celebrated what would have been Tupac’s 45th birthday; the city of Oakland declared it to be Tupac Shakur Day. His life was tragically cut short in a drive-by shooting in 1996. With current culture embracing the legacy of the rap heavyweight on his birthday, several stories spilled onto the internet regarding the auspicious artist. This one in particular will definitely bring tears to your eyes.
Meet Eli Reed
In a feature written in Complex, photographer, Eli Reed, candidly detailed his relationship with Tupac Shakur, dating back to 1992. The two met on set of Tupac and Janet Jackson’s film Poetic Justice and Reed explained how his meeting with Tupac was a life-changing experience.
Encounter With Tupac
“First and foremost, I wanted to shoot him as a human being,” he recalled. “Any other kind of shot, I realized that any photographer can bring that. I simply wanted to document that moment and that person in the moment. If I started thinking about this image being a bigger part of his legacy or whatever, I would have stopped myself like, ‘Stop it, asshole. Just be in the moment and take the photo.’ I go by gut feeling. See with your eyes and your mind.”
Sadness in the Room
“When I asked Tupac to take this photograph, he just nodded and started to take his shirt off,” Reed said. “And I said, ‘Stop.’ I just felt a sadness in that moment. I can’t quite explain it.”
“I liked his spirit,” Reed explained. “I didn’t really know the hip-hop world very well but I was impressed with him. We talked about different ways of photographing him for several weeks before we even took one photo. We went back and forth and he had all these ideas. It’s somewhat of a blur. But I was looking at taking his portrait as a photojournalist.”