A star during his lifetime, a legend after a bullet killed him at the age of twenty-five, Tupac Shakur was the most influential rap musician of his day–and the most misunderstood. Far from being the insolent “gangsta” that the press put forth, Tupac was a committed and fearless visionary determined to make a difference not only on the music scene but in the black community at large. Darrin Bastfield grew up with Tupac in a rough Baltimore neighborhood, rapped with him, fought with him, and performed by his side. Now in this vivid, highly personal memoir featuring never-before-seen photos of the rap artist, Darrin shows the world what Tupac Shakur was really like as a teenager destined for greatness.
In tight, edgy prose, Darrin follows Tupac through the seven years of their friendship. In Roland Park Middle School in the mid-1980s, rap was a kind of underground movement, and the kids with real talent always found each other. Tupac–new in town, a skinny thirteen-year old with shabby clothes and lopsided hair–may have looked uncool, but it soon became clear that he had the gift. When Tupac teamed up with Mouse, king of the beatbox, they blew the school away in their performance as the Eastside Crew. It was the first in a series of increasingly electrifying performances.
When Tupac went to the Baltimore School for the Arts, then it really started to happen. A new group called Born Busy, unforgettable performances at the Beaux Arts Balls, an eye-opening backstage encounter with Salt-N-Pepa, their tight friendship with John, known among black kids as “the cool white boy,” a series of love affairs with adoring girls, the wild nights of the 1988 senior prom–Tupac and Darrin lived though it all together, and in this memoir Darrin makes it all come alive again.
From the start, Darrin knew Tupac was a marked man, singled out by his charismatic gift. So it came as no surprise that Tupac made it big when rap went mainstream. What stunned Darrin was the violent turn Tupac’s life took once he relocated to L.A.–and how swiftly that violence engulfed and destroyed him. Vibrant, gritty, alive with the tension and spontaneity of rap music, this memoir of Tupac’s teenage years is a haunting portrait of one of the most important artists of our day.