The latest edition of PBS’ "Blank on Blank" web series takes on previously unreleased audio from a 1994 interview with Tupac Shakur, originally captured on microcasette. The video gets off to a perhaps uncomfortably prescient start, when the late Shakur tells Entertainment Weekly reporter Benjamin Svetkey that his best case scenario in 15 years is “sprinkled in ashes, smoked up by my homies,” but Shakur quickly backtracks and explains that he meant to say worst case.
As with previous episodes of “Blank on Blank”, the video is animated in a very minimalist black-and-white style, save for one frame where Shakur, describing his envelopment by the “press machine,” is depicted as feeding the contents of his veins to a hungry crowd. The audio captures Shakur at a particularly tense period in his life, and his cartoon alter ego jumps between a number of subjects: his status as a role model, his then-impending trial, his parents’ history with the Black Panther Party, and kissing Janet Jackson.
Most striking, perhaps, is when Shakur describes himself as a John Wayne figure: “Somebody who pulled himself up from their bootstraps. From poverty. From welfare. Now … I’m doing movies. I feel like a tragic hero in a Shakespeare play, you know what I’m saying?”
Re: the John Wayne quote, if you watch/listen to the video he clearly says, “if I were white, I would’ve been like John Wayne.” I think that’s a pretty important clarification, the fact that his blackness impacted and skewed what could’ve been a very different public image/persona/public reception if he were white.
Also, at the end he mentions meeting Madonna.