Remind us again why it's called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? For the second straight year (last year, it was N.W.A), hip-hop stole the show at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, YG, Treach and T.I. ran through a powerful medley of music by the late, great Tupac Shakur. But it was Snoop Dogg's induction speech for his onetime Death Row labelmate that made for the evening's most memorable moments (though, to be fair, David Letterman's induction of Pearl Jam was pretty great, too).
Snoop's speech, which you can watch in its entirety here, was nine minutes of honesty, wit, great storytelling and heartfelt emotion, as the man who has become rap's most beloved spokesperson painted a portrait of both "Tupac the actual human being" and "the greatest rapper of all time." Here are some of the speech's many highlights:
On Tupac's many sides: "With an unapologetic rawness, ’Pac embraced those contradictions that proved we ain’t just a character out of someone else’s storybook. To be human is to be many things at once; strong and vulnerable; hard-headed and intellectual; courageous and afraid; loving and vengeful; revolutionary and — oh yeah, don’t get it fucked up — gangsta."
On Tupac's impact on Snoop's own persona: "’Pac passed me my first blunt. That’s right: Tupac is the one that got Snoop Dogg smoking blunts. See, I was a Zig-Zag man before that shit."
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On their friendship (and friendly rivalry): "I got me a penthouse suite on Wilshire, and two weeks later, ’Pac got the one right across the hall from me. Neighbors, you dig? We had no peers beside one another. Just two black boys struggling to become men."
The best image of the evening: "I never shared this story before but, it really speaks to our journey. I had just beaten my case and Suge had taken us to South America to get away from all of the drama, and me and ’Pac was parasailing. You heard right: Snoop Dogg and Tupac. Parasailing. Together. With Suge Knight driving the boat."
On Tupac's death and his mother Afeni Shakur's influence: "Right after I heard Tupac got shot, I immediately flew to Vegas, and I walked in the room and I seen him laid out in the bed with all kinds of tools and shit, and I was so weak I damn near fell over. And his mom came over to me and she grabbed me, and she held me up and she said, ‘Baby, you got to be strong.’ And I went and sat next to him and was whispering to him, telling him I loved him and to hold on and that he was going to be OK. And even in that moment, his mom was thinking more about me than herself and showing me how to love strong. I mean it was amazing that his mama was so strong and loved so hard. I realized that ’Pac was taught how to love at a very early age, and through his music, he shared the love with all of us, and that’s ultimately why we’re here tonight."
If you missed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, check HBO.com/schedule for future airings, or watch it now via the HBO Go and HBO Now apps.