*fittedwearer's note: If you need to be caught up on this, here. The setup for this was tarded enough the first time without me retyping it 2 days late, so I'm just gonna go ahead and pick up where I left off...thanks.
As I walked into the offices of Political Underground, the nationwide lobbyist and activism organization founded by Mr. Shakur, the first thing that struck me was Pac's new image, which was on display for all who entered to see in the form of a large glossy mural done on the wall behind the receptionist's desk. Gone was the signature bandana, sagging pants, ostentatious jewelry and defiant snarl that he had become known for in many circles in this universe. Instead, Tupac was depicted in a suit and tie, gazing pensively with a slight hopeful smirk into the distance, his many tattoos covered by a European cut jacket.
I wondered just how different this Pac was from the one we knew. Maybe his mention of a life turnaround went deeper than I expected...it's was possible that the toll for his entry into the political arena was everything that endeared him to his more intelligent fans...maybe my man was a sellout. Just then, I looked closer at the mural and noticed that in the jacket was a lapel pin of an American flag and the African-American flag crossed. There was hope.
I walked up to the receptionist's desk. Her nameplate told me she was the same Linda that I had spoken to over the phone. She recalled our conversation and buzzed me into a large room in back, where other employees of his were frenetic in their attempts to set up the nationally broadcasted speech to take place in less than an hour. A life-size cardboard cutout of suited Tupac whizzed by me in the hands of eager assistants in Political Underground t-shirts. In a corner, signs like "We against the world" and " "Picture me Votin' (without having my interests served)" were being distrubuted to supporters.
In the background, I saw a TV. An early news program showed footage of the speech area, the assembled masses awaiting Pac's arrival, and discussed possible topics the speech would touch on. Clearly, this thing was legit. Just as I was taken in by the scale and legitimacy of this movement, I saw him. Strolling from behind an office door, surrounded by assistants, inspecting the various processes at hand with the care of a man truly invested in his work. Even from a distance, you could see the genuine manner in which he interacted with the people. Even thought he had just entered the room, somehow he was now the center of it. He respected them, and they him. I shook off one last urge to look behind a potted plant for Ashton Kutcher or something, then finally approached.
He greeted me as he did everyone else, with a warm smile and firm handshake. After I introduced myself as "AJ from an alternate reality", his assistants gave me a funny look. After he assigned them busy work and dismissed them, I returned it. We went back to his office, and finally my nonce-in-a-lifetime conversation could begin.
Tupac: So, AJ...glad to see you could come through, man.
AJ: Thanks, man...I know you're busy.
Tupac: Not in your universe.
AJ: True...ish...you've relaeased at least one album every year since your death.
AJ: Yeah, man. That's not even the worst thing. You ever hear this?
*AJ downloads and plays Meek Mill's "Tupac Back" from smartphone*
Tupac: The fuck is that shit? That man clearly knows nothing of my work.
AJ: It's hip-hop in my universe and era. A lot of people have been compared to you...this one guy called Ja Rule, for example.
Tupac: Ja Rule, Ja Rule...hmm...I think he sent me a mixtape back when I was still running Makaveli Records. Wasn't really too much of shit, as I recall. That guy made it big where you're from?
AJ: Well, kinda...until this other guy called 50 Cent came along and disturbed his progress somewhat. That's not what I came here to talk about though.
Tupac: They really compared that motherf--no, no...you're right. That's not what we're here to talk about. You said you had some questions for me?
AJ: Yeah, actually...the Pac in my universe was portrayed as the baddest man on the planet in the media.
Tupac: Yeah, I know...I wrote those press releases, you know. Anyway, what about it?
AJ: How do you go from that to being a politician? I mean, you gotta understand how it's a little unclear how one goes from the face of Thug Life to the face of grassroots activism in America.
Tupac: I do dig you, but from our conversations, you just seemed like a more insightful brotha than to just take things at face value. All that thug life talk, all the fuck you attitude, the things that made 2Pac 2Pac...it was all just an act.
AJ: Kinda figured that. I mean, you started out as a background dancer and art school student. Didn't really figure you decided to be a hardcore criminal once you got the means to afford not to do things like that.
Tupac: You get it. See, I tried to show my artistic, poetic side at first...get my message out to the people who would listen. Unfortunately, the people who most needed to hear what I was saying didn't want to hear shit I had to say. They thought I was too soft to spit the hard truth. Far as they was concerned, Tupac was just that quiet little art kid...why would they listen to him, especially about the shit I wanted to talk about?
AJ: So you created 2Pac from Tupac.
Tupac: Right. Instantly I had a platform fromwhich I would speak and people would listen. It felt right, especially since I had something to say. When people tell you you're saying what's on their mind but they don't have the courage to say themselves, it's a powerful feeling. Too powerful, almost...it's easy to lose yourself in something you've created.
AJ: Hmm...so what made you turn your life around? What did you do that the Tupac I knew didn't?
Tupac: Knew when to stop. I mean, once you go from art school and poetry books to jail for assault in less than 3 years, you know something's going left. Once I got hit in '94, I realized I just wasn't about that life. I was an artist, not a gangster...I was messing around with dudes that were. I realized if I didn't change my life up, I was probably going to die.
Tupac: --definitely going to die. So, I fell back from all the street shit and kept all my gangsta in the booth.
AJ: Which is why you never got in that brawl after the Tyson fight...and never got shot again.
Tupac: I honestly thought my career was going to suffer, but it turned out my fans had already embraced my message. I had already accessed a part of them that lay dormant and unquestioning, and I had made my impact without putting my own life in danger by imitating art with it. I already showed that I could be successful as 2Pac...I was able to influence an entire generation of lyricists.
AJ: An entire generation.
Tupac: True, but I try not to say it that much. *laughs* But yeah, I was able to reach a lot of people with my music. After I shifted my focuses a little because of where my life had went since I started out, I said to myself "Why not show these people who respect me and what I do so much that there's a different way to influence the world"? I'm a living example that if you're smart and talented, you have options...I feel that's an important thing for people, especially my people, to know.
AJ: That's crazy. So you went directly into politics?
Tupac: *laughs* Come on, man. You know that's not how it works. I'm already black, and I have a record and a rap career going against me? Had to let that whole thing cool down...I retired from full-time rap around '98. Then I worked with President Clinton as an inner-city ambassador, raising constituent awareness in underrepresented places with my brand recognition...
AJ: You went back and forth to the hood saying "I'm Tupac, please vote", gotcha...
Tupac: Then in '99 when Al Gore was running, I saw my chance to break in, so I founded Political Underground and I unified the black vote under those who would do the most for them. We won, and that put me on the political map.
AJ: Hmm...I could see that. I assume you did work on the Obama campaign too.
Tupac: Did? Who, Barack, the Illinois senator? His campaign didn't go down yet, he still has to get the Democratic nomination he's going for...but yeah, if he gets it, we'll ride with him. Even wrote him a campaign song, "Dear Obama".
AJ: Hmm...back home he ran and won in 2008. Wonder what set black people back 4 years...do you have BET in this universe?
Tupac: Black Entertainment Television? Yes, unfortunately...it's the number 2 news conglomerate in America.
AJ: Never mind. So...you ever thought about a run?
Tupac: I'd be lying if I said I didn't...but I'll be honest, I don't think America accepts me to that extent yet. Political Underground is getting a lot done though...we're in the bigwigs' ears all the time, we got the Equal Funding for Public Schools Measure passed, changed the tax structure to more accurately reflect income levels, got marijuana legalized in most states...we do big things around here. I'll give them a few years...maybe in 2020 they'll see things more clearly.
AJ: Yeah, maybe...man, Pac...I wish we still had you back home. I thought it was just for the music, but I gotta say you're serving more of a purpose around here than that.
Tupac: Listen man...the music was just a conduit. It was the voice I could scream in so that just the people I wanted to hear me would. Somewhere along the way though, I realized the ideas and insight that I have had wider applications, and everyone deserved to benefit. I've grown a lot since you knew a version of me, man.
AJ: I can see that...I think if others could too, they might look at you differently.
Tupac: Yeah, too bad.
*a Political Underground assistant bursts in urgently*
Assistant: Mr. Shakur, sir! Speech is in 30, we gotta roll to the staging point in 5!
Tupac: I'll be out in 2.
Assistant: Very good, then, sir.
Tupac: Well, AJ from another universe, it's been interesting talking to you, but I have to ride out.
*both rise, shake hands, begin to head for door*
AJ: I understand...I'm just glad I had this opportunity.
Tupac: Hey man...I know I'm not around in your world any more, but do me 2 favors.
AJ: Name 'em.
Tupac: Keep my spirit and message alive. The world needs people like me to challenge the status quo, to put in their face things they'd rather keep behind their backs, to shake things up, if only so they can be seen differently.
AJ: Um...I'll try.
Tupac: That's all you can do...besides actually doing it like I asked.
AJ:*laughs* Gotcha, Pac. What's the other?
Tupac: Man, tell people from where you're from to stop comparing these wack ass one-dimensional MCs to me!
AJ: I can definitely do that.
Tupac: Good shit. Aight, I gotta go.
AJ: Later, Pac!
Tupac: Not in your universe.
*Tupac is suddenly reflanked by assistants, who walk him toward his limo, he gets in*
AJ: Oh, right.
*the limo pulls away, AJ eventually wakes up after investigating certain aforementioned legalities*
I can't lie (besides the entirety of these last 2 posts)...that was pretty interesting, for me at least. Sometimes I can't help but wonder...what if?