I was just staring high school when Vice President Dan Quayle tried to get Tupac Shakur's record, 2Pacalypse Now, taken off the shelves. According to the story, a Texas state trooper was killed by a teenager who claimed he had been influenced by the album.
I wasn't really familiar with Tupac, nor his work, but remember thinking "Wow, that must be some really offensive music!" I didn't give it any more thought and certainly didn't bother to start listening to Tupac, as I was far too busy listening to Boyz II Men, Kris Kross, Nirvana, Sir Mix-A-Lot, En Vogue, and Color Me Badd to give any police-insulting rapper any attention.
At the end of 1993, Tupac was again in this news, this time due to accusations that he and members of his posse had sexually assaulted a woman. At the time, I was only 16, but I already had accumulated about ten years of being a feminist, so clearly this was intolerable to me. I vaguely recall thinking "What a sleezebag! He should go to jail for a long time!" and then turning up either Gin Blossoms, Janet Jackson, Inner Circle, SWV, 95 South, Digable Planets, or Cranberries. I had not yet been exposed to the brilliance that is "I Get Around" by Tupac, even though it was one of the Top 100 songs of 1993.
Ask anyone who knows me well (which is, I'm starting to realize, not a whole heck of a lot of people) and they will be familiar with my rap obsession and my passionate love for Tupac's musical library. Friends from college and I used to sing along to pretty much every rap song by Biggie (begrudgingly), Tupac, Snoop, NWA, Westside Connection, etc. We were such white girls trying to be hood, without the realities of the "hood", like crime, poverty, drive-by shootings, poor education systems, teenage pregnancy (this did occur at my high school, but I wouldn't call it an epidemic), etc. You certainly could have called us "poseurs" and we would have nodded and said "Yeah...that's about right...but we REALLY like this music..."
It's a constant struggle for me to try to determine if it's not okay to like an artists work (songs, movies, books) if I feel like they are a person of questionable/bad/horrible character. The most recent example of this is when Chris Brown beat up Rihanna. I loved his music. I saw him in concert once and it was a ton of fun. I obviously DO NOT condone violence against ANYONE, especially not domestic violence. I was saddened by the news, because I recalled reading a story that Chris Brown's mother was a victim of domestic violence. I remember thinking "CB obviously has anger issues...I hope he can apologize, serve his sentence, get some anger management counseling, and become a better person." Some might call it naive but I like to think of it as optimistic.
I was getting ready for work on Tuesday morning with GMA in the background and heard them say something about their musical guest Chris Brown. I was like "Oh! This could be interesting!" When he was on stage with Robin, I sat down and listened to the interview. Um...WTF? Chris, you BEAT UP your GIRLFRIEND. You should be prepared to expect questions about it for EVERY INTERVIEW FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Wow...he came off (probably is) like a total asshole with not an ounce of remorse in his body. THEN I find out later that he was so angry after his performance that he trashed his dressing room, breaking glass and everything, and then tore his shirt off and stormed out of the building.
This letter sums up my feelings better than I can.