The XXX vs Tupac Complex
 

It was on a livestream back in January where the now deceased Florida rapping sensation XXXTentacion first claimed he was better than the great Tupac Shakur. He claimed he was more of a poet and revolutionary than Shakur ever was. “Tupac can’t make rock music like I’m making!” As old-heads scrambled to defend Pac’s honor, and fans of X latched onto the brash confidence from the young star, this instantly became one of many controversies that marked X’s short career.

 
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In all honesty and with no exaggeration:  X was partially right. Tupac could not make the type of music you made.  This is not to say he had the resume to match up to a rapper with the caliber of Tupac Shakur, after all X wasn’t in the game for very long before his untimely murder.  Even the most dedicated fans of XXXTentacion should understand the difference between liking X’s music more than Pac’s, and thinking X was a superior enigma in rap and culture as a whole. For X and his fanbase to constantly go the extreme and say he has clearly surpassed Shakur on ANY level is disrespectful at best downright blasphemous at worst. X should’ve approached the comparison from the standpoint of truly admiring Pac’s impact and wanting to emulate it in his own way. This would have been a more respectful and understandable direction to take the conversation because while he will never be what Pac was, XXXTentacion is the closest thing to a modern-day Tupac Shakur that we have ever encountered.

 

When you take the time to get into his discography, it’s obvious X emulated Pac, and there are a few overlapping ideologies. These are both musicians that preach spreading love, and not tearing society apart from within by turning on each other. Tupac was able to create a whole new definition for the word “gangsta” taking it from being associated with violent crime into simply meaning a man overcoming obstacles. This is very similar message to the one that XXX delivered via his music. Despite all his demons, X was just a young man overcoming his faults to be a better person.

 

Another striking similarity comes with the release of X’s video for his hit song SAD. Sad was released a little over a week after X was shot and killed. In the video, it shows him talking to what appears to be the devil about battling his own demons. He then proceeds to arrive at his own funeral and get into a fight with an older version of himself. He wins this battle with the power of his mind, essentially saying that to defeat your old demons you must use your head. If you have ever seen the music video for Tupac’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” then you’ll understand and see the similarities. The “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” video was released 2 days after Tupac was pronounced dead. This video features Tupac getting shot and then rapping to his peers from the standpoint of an angel. It’s also worth pointing out that Pac starts the video being told at the Pearly Gates of Heaven that he must earn his way in. Sound familiar? While not exactly the same, it’s a similar concept especially when considering both of these video releases were posthumous.

 

Perhaps the most blatant parallel between the two rappers and the source for much of this comparison comes from all of the dedicated fans claiming with all sorts of fruitless evidence that XXXTentacion is still alive. As any hip-hop fan should know, this was the big conspiracy when Pac was killed and it persists amongst the genre’s more imaginative fans to this day.

 
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Because I understand how rap allegiances and standom work, I want to make it clear (again) that nothing in this article is meant to suggest that these two artists are on the same level of impact or influence. I simply want to make the point that there are similarities between their work and extrapolate that these similarities indicate that had X not been cut down at the tender age of 20 and had been able to continue his career he may have been able to have similar impact and influence to the great Tupac Shakur. Agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.