‘I suffered through the years

and shed so many tears’

Tupac, ‘So Many Tears’

I’m try­ing to uncov­er the unre­cov­er­able here–There is no way for us to know, nor are we able to ‘dia­gnose’ someone as depressed after they’ve been deceased. I’m not even qual­i­fied, bey­ond my exper­i­ence, to even dia­gnose any­one or any­thing as depressed. Some may think it doesn’t mat­ter because what rests in the past, stays there. And maybe it should. Maybe there is little to no value in try­ing to tease out this nar­rat­ive because for whom does it mat­ter now if 2Pac was depressed? We can’t talk to him, we can’t know what he was going through men­tally and emo­tion­ally, so to whom does it even mat­ter that he was depressed and it was largely ignored? If a dia­gnos­is is meant to identi­fy the nature of some­thing by look­ing at the symp­toms, what is my pur­pose in try­ing to look for some­thing I will nev­er truly know or find? I want to know where Black boys are allowed to express their sad­ness and what it looks like. I feel like we’ve been robbed.

The nar­rat­ives that exist around 2Pac’s life nev­er men­tion his mel­an­cho­lia, nor depres­sion. And we will nev­er really know because all we have now are the things that he has left behind. His impen­et­rably slick lyr­ics, the inter­views where he smirks at attempts to dehu­man­ise him, and oth­er rel­ics of the Thug Life™ A few sum­mers ago, I listened to Me Against The World on repeat for no real reas­on, and with no aims. Released dur­ing an unar­gu­ably tumul­tu­ous year for 2Pac, includ­ing sev­er­al not­able con­vic­tions for bod­ily harm, shoot­ing cops, and sexu­al assault, I read count­less argu­ments of 2Pac that called him a crim­in­al. And to be hon­est, I do hold some dis­dain for him with regards to the sexu­al assault and repeated deni­al. But I still listened to that album and heard someone troubled speak on that. I heard him bear his inner tur­moil track after track, in a world whose repu­ta­tion pre­cedes itself when it comes to the expres­sion of any kind of vul­ner­ab­il­ity as a Black man.

Me Against The World speaks to me about an unyield­ing bleak­ness, cyc­lic­al trauma, the absence of care, col­lectiv­ity, and even the loss of feel­ing in an ever more viol­ent United States. Recor­ded in 1994, Me Against The World was birthed in the same year that Clin­ton signed his dis­astrous crime bill into law and we lost a whole gen­er­a­tion of fath­ers. So to whom does it mat­ter that 2Pac was depressed? To whom does it mat­ter that we try and res­cue this part of 2Pac’s nar­rat­ive? There are untold powers in look­ing at our own mel­an­cho­lia and what comes of it.

I focus on So Many Tears by 2Pac because of its hard and flu­ent jux­ta­pos­i­tions, the frank­ness of which he speaks about cry­ing and the thug life often in the same breath is incred­ible because it is so rare. Be hard, be you, be whatever, but he doesn’t let that come in the way of actu­ally feel­ing grief, loss, hope­less­ness, and des­per­a­tion. He’s lost people, he’s shed so many tears. He’s para­noid about leav­ing in hearse, but he still finds space to shed tears and this is import­ant to wit­ness. Cry­ing does not equate to weak­ness, and as 2Pac effort­lessly dic­tates in Me Against The World, there is room for cry­ing even for the more mas­cu­line expres­sions. Cry­ing explic­ates the feel­ings we have, and in some cases can draw a line under­neath our struggles, give us a start­ing point for our future tran­scend­ence out of our mel­an­chol­ic mal­aise. For this, I really appre­ci­ate 2Pac. I need him. I wish he were here to tell us more about what he was going through and what about the tears he has shed.

I believe look­ing at mel­an­cho­lia gives us an aven­ue to fuller ways of liv­ing. We can­not ignore our way out of sad­ness, no mat­ter how easy. Giv­ing space to be vul­ner­able is some­thing we could all prob­ably bene­fit from, and it surely is under­rated. Where are the places where Black people can lament on the sad things we exper­i­ence and feel? If 2Pac was indeed depressed, and we didn’t pick up on it, I would count that as a loss for us all. We don’t allow for com­plex feel­ings or ways of being, espe­cially in our world today. I wish you the space to speak about what gets you down, and I hope that you find your­self more human, more human­ised than before for tak­ing a hard look at the things we try hard to flee. Tran­scend­ence is not my per­son­al goal, as I find mel­an­cho­lia a pro­duct­ive space for mel­an­cho­lia in my own life. But I real­ise that is not incred­ibly com­mon. But the first step in mov­ing on from some­thing hurt­ful, trau­mat­ising, or even the small things that get us down and out, is to look at it, maybe speak on it. Shed a tear. You’ll feel bet­ter. You might even pro­duce some­thing geni­us from it, much like Me Against The World. RIP 2Pac.

Marikiscrycrycry’s He’s Dead — This new work from pro­lif­ic non-bin­ary cho­reo­graph­er and dan­cer Marikiscrycrycry uses dif­fer­ent dance and cho­reo­graph­ic tech­niques, as well as live action, and song to ask the ques­tion, ‘Was Tupac depressed?’ We will nev­er know for sure because of his untimely death. So what are we left with?Dates:

Tuesday–Friday, 4–8 Feb­ru­ary

NOW20, The Yard Theatre, Lon­don https://theyardtheatre.co.uk/theatre/events/now-20/now-20-week‑3/

Sat­urday, 9 Feb­ru­ary 2020

Atten­bor­ough Centre for the Arts, Brighton, New Queers On The Block tour


Sat­urday, 15 Feb­ru­ary 2020

RIGHT QUEER RIGHT NOW, Theatre in the Mill, Brad­ford, New Queers On The Block tour


Photo by Elise Rose

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
Guest Author

Guest Author

I Am Hip-Hop magazine wel­comes con­tri­bu­tions from guest authors. If you would like to review an event, please get in touch! iamhiphopmagazine[at]gmail.com

About Guest Author

Guest Author
I Am Hip-Hop magazine welcomes contributions from guest authors. If you would like to review an event, please get in touch! iamhiphopmagazine[at]gmail.com