Tupac Shakur was a gangsta rapper of the old mold; he called himself a thug, sure, but he was also quite conscious when it came to social issues, particularly those impacting the black community.
The rare video below — taken one week after the riots at what must have been a softball game, and though conducted in English apparently shown on Dutch television — might not have seemed like a big deal upon its release. But in 20 years Tupac's legacy has mushroomed, and his thoughts on the city's riots on this anniversary now feel quite significant.
Though the video contains just a short fragment of the interview, it speaks to the riots as a touchstone in the development of West Coast hip-hop. NWA's Straight Outta Compton and Ice Cube's Death Certificate, both railing against police brutality and inequality, foreshadowed the revolt. And countless rappers have drawn creative inspiration from the event since then.
That's why, over the course of the next week, West Coast Sound will present interviews with some of these MCs — and an influential hip-hop writer — in conjunction with the riots' 20th anniversary this Sunday, April 29. Stay tuned.