Director: Benny Boom
Screenplay: Steven Bagatourian
Producers: L. T. Hutton, David l. Robinson, James G. Robinson
Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Jamie Hector, Annie Ilonzeh, Kat Graham and Jamal Woolard.
After being hit in the stomach by a patient at work (hospitals aren’t always the safest places), I was feeling feisty going in to see the biography of controversial rapper, Tupac Shakur (AKA 2Pac) in, All Eyez On Me.
I didn’t expect to get into the film as I wasn’t a fan, but I became absorbed by the tenacity of the man (rhyming intended).
Taking me back to the late 80s to early 90s, back to a time when I was still at high school, put off rap when lyrics from, The 2 Live Crew’s track: Me So Horny, were sung by oh so horny teenagers – the story of Tupac was unfamiliar. Sure, I’d heard of him. Anyone alive during that time would have, and that’s a testament to his fame, but I didn’t know the details of his life.
By the time Tupac was 25 when he died a week after being shot by, to this day, persons unknown, Tupac Shakur had sold over 75 million records had starred in six films and one TV show all in the space of 5 years, including his time in jail for ‘indecent touching’. This guy was a trail blazer.
All Eyez on Me is a biography and thankfully not a rap music video featuring gangsters and tits and arse, for which 2Pac was famous, there’s also his political side, his poetry and his relationship with his mother.
Both his step father and mother were part of the Black Panther’s back in the 70s, his mother jailed while pregnant with Tupac only to be released after her self-representation. His step father also jailed after being charged for armed robbery whether a set-up by the police for being a Black Panther leader or because he did the robbery or for all of it.
It’s interesting how times have changed and how artists who survived those days such a Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube have been washed and rinsed and sanitised. And I felt that the perspective of the film laundered Tupac’s life for the big screen. Yet, there’s effort to show the controversy, the gangster attitude and misogynous stance to then switch to Tupac’s defence to give a little understanding as to the why. And the, Why not?
It was interesting to be shown a slice into the life that was Tupac. From his life as a child to his final hours as partner of Death Row Records, still dreaming, still creating, still getting out there to stand.
The opportunity for Tupac to defend his life style was shown through an interview with journalist Kevin Powell (who’s now suing for copywrite infringement, see article here) while he was jailed. The premise being just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And although sometimes disgusted, I admit I got into the film and the charisma of the character, Demetrius Shipp Jr, well-cast as Tupac. But wow, the man himself would have been so much better.
A few pieces of old footage are spliced into the film which I would have liked more if possible without taking away from the drama and character of the film.
And 2Pac’s music was a slow reveal and used in triumph as Tupac makes a comeback, again and again.
All Eyez On Me is an interesting film if you can stomach the macho BS that is the attitude of the 80s rapper. Particularly the history of West Coast Rap and where artists like Dr.Dre, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac come together.