Long before Kanye West ever sat at a microphone on satellite radio and proclaimed: “I am Shakespeare” and other outlandish things, 2Pac made a similar comparison back in 1994 saying, “I feel like a tragic hero in a Shakespeare play.” But we’re only just hearing it now nearly 20 years later thanks to PBS’s superb “Blank on Blank” web series in which the network unearths decades-old transcripts from interviews with legendary celebrities like Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and Jerry Garcia and reimagines them in animated form.
This particular unheard 5-minute 2Pac interview comes from a March 1994 conversation with Benjamin Svetkey at a restaurant in Hollywood for a profile that ran in Entertainment Weekly. After ordering a vegetable spring roll and dungeness crab cake, the iconic rapper envisions his ashes being “smoked up by [his] homies” as the worst case scenario for his future. On the other end of the spectrum he talks about his hopes of becoming a John Wayne character, a real rags-to-riches story rare for a black man at the time.
“My definition of thug comes from half of the street element. Straight street hustling. And half of the Panther element. Half of the independence movement. Saying we want self-determination. We want to do it by self-defense and by any means necessary.”
He also goes on to speak about his “Thug Life” mentality, his mother, how his public perception affected the people around him, and his reaction to former Vice President Dan Quayle’s harsh words for his music. Watch the interview above, and if you haven’t already, check out more of these excellent animated shorts from PBS.