[box cover]

Tupac Resurrection

Famous by the age of 20 and murdered five years later, Tupac Shakur lived fast and died young enough to be enshrined as a legend, comparable to Buddy Holly, if not Elvis Presley (if only for the quantity of velvet paintings both have inspired). And though Shakur passed in 1996, his presence is still felt in pop culture, especially through the stacks of records released posthumously that show just how prolific he was in the recording studio. Tupac Resurrection (2003) explores and explains his life through an interesting twist on the documentary formula — because Tupac was a loquacious interviewee, director Lauren Lazin was able to have Tupac narrate the film. The picture covers his rocky childhood; he grew up fatherless and raised mostly by his Black Panther mother (and executive producer), Afeni Shakur, until he discovered his passion for acting and rapping. After moving to California in his teen years, he struggled briefly, but after impressing "Digital Underground" front-man Shock G (aka Humpty Hump), Tupac became an on-stage performer and achieved his first taste of real fame when he was given a showcase verse on the single "All Around the World." After recording his own solo album, he was picked up by Interscope Records, but the rough edges of his rap stories — which focused on teen pregnancy, street life, abusive cops, and promiscuous women — made him (again, according to his own words) a target for trouble. First up was an incident where he was harassed, beaten, and incarcerated by the police, only for them to pay remunerative damages after the fact. Other troubles involved an alleged sexual-abuse charge, numerous fights, and a robbery that left Tupac near death after being shot five times. After a jail stint, Shakur signed with Death Row Records and Marion 'Suge' Knight, who partnered him with West Coast legends Dr. Dre (aka Andre Young), and Snoop Dogg (aka Calvin Broadus). But Knight's comments about East Coast rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Christopher Wallace, Biggie Smalls) and his producer/accused hanger-on Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs ignited a (mostly newspaper-generated) rivalry between the coasts. It was a legend exacerbated by the fact that both Combs and Wallace were on the scene when Shakur was fatally shot, and both sides have conflicting stories about what happened. Tupac Resurrection then concludes with the ambiguous details that led to Shakur's untimely death (which is more interestingly explored in Nick Broomfield's 2002 documentary Biggie and Tupac). As a portrait of Tupac, it's hard to know how honest the film is when it's executive produced by his mother (who gets treated in glowing terms, outside of one mention of her crack addiction). The moments that are most fascinating are when it's revealed Tupac was interested in people and things that just don't fit his "thug life" reputation — he was a fan of Kate Bush and Don McClean, and he raves about getting a letter while in jail from Tony Dazna. Tupac was a drama student and was fairly well read, so it's interesting to see he was smarter and more sensitive than his scandalous reputation suggests. Because it is told through Tupac, there's not a lot of outside perspective, but he is a compelling and involving figure, making the film's running-time relatively swift; this isn't the final word on the man, and it's too reverential, but Resurrection makes for a compelling spin. Paramount presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include a commentary by director Lauren Lazin, Afeni Shakur, surprise guest-celebrities Snoop Dogg, Marlon Wayans, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Sway, Shock G, Naughty by Nature's Treach, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Castro, Big Syke, MTV's Chris Conelley, and Jasmine Guy, along with Tupac's family members sister Sekyiwa Shakur, aunt Glo Cox, seven of his cousins, family friend Tushana Howard and many more. There's also four deleted scenes (5 min.) two additional Tupac interviews (12 min.), A Malcolm X speech Tupac made in 1992 (6 min.), his 1995 deposition in regards to an officer shooting (7 min.), featurettes about the making of the soundtrack with interviews with Eminem and 50 Cent (5 min.), two Tupac music videos, "Remembering Tupac" (17 min.) featuring interviews with the commentators about Tupac's death, an interview with stepfather Mutulu Shakur (3 min.), a promo for a Tupac center (2 min.), two trailers, "Bootleg This!" (26 sec.) about how Afeni fights those who bootleg her son's music, and an Easter egg. Keep-case.

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