While we have been discussing The Prince and Machiavelli, it made me think about the legendary rapper Tupac and why he called himself Makaveli. According to a little research that I did, while Tupac was in imprisoned, he actually read The Prince. I have decided to look at a couple of Tupac’s songs and compare them to that of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” readings.
As we have read in The Prince, Machiavelli tried to give advice to people who wanted to gain or maintain power. Obviously, Tupac is one of the most (if not the most) influential rappers of all time. A lot of that had to do with him trying to maintain his power throughout the rap industry. In order to succeed in the industry, you must consistently be at or close to the top to maintain power. Before his imprisonment in 1995, Tupac was already well at the top of the scene with hit albums such as 2Pacalypse, Me against the World, and Thug Life Vol. 1.
While being imprisoned, Tupac began to read The Prince and came to the realization that he could possibly be losing his credibility while stuck in prison. For instance, T.I. went to prison on federal weapons charges. During his time, he lost his credibility as a rapper. Anyways, with this in mind, Tupac returned right back on the scene in 1996 with his album “The Don Killuminati: The 7 day theory.” With hits such as Hail Mary, Toss It Up, and To Live and Die in L.A., you can recognize Machiavelli’s influence in Tupac’s music.
In “Hail Mary,” the first line of the first verse explains quite a bit of what Tupac is telling his people, “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me,” Tupac shows his intimidation and that he is dead nuts serious, not funny business. In the same verse, Tupac’s aggressive and serious lyrics continue, “Set trip, empty out my clip, never stop to aim.” These lyrics express his power and how if anyone were to disrespect or violate Tupac, they will suffer the consequences.
In “Toss It Up,” Tupac introduces himself again but under a different name, Makaveli the Don by stating, “And who’s he coming through right now, Makaveli the Don.” This shows how much Machiavelli influenced Tupac during his imprisonment. Dr. Dre and Tupac had a bit of beef during that time. Dre being a very well known, credible artist and producer, Tupac expresses his power by calling him out in the lyric, “Quick to jump ship, jump trick, dumb move.” This lyric has to do with Tupac’s loyalty towards Death Row records and pointing out Dre’s idiocy of leaving Death Row. How can someone just call out a well known artist such as Dr. Dre without causing even more issues? Well, with Tupac changing his ways and gaining even more power than he had before, he can do that.
Finally, “To Live and Die in LA,” the song opens up with a radio interview done KKBT’s 93.2 Street Science program. In the interview, they ask questions about Tupac’s new album and whether it is causing tension between east and west coast gangs. To bring up a song within a song, “Hit em up” which is on the same album, Tupac talks about killing east coast rappers which is then brought up in the interview, “I mean he’s talking about killing people, I wanna see you deceased.” Towards the end of the song, Tupac makes shout outs towards certain radio stations as well as the magazines he has been on, “This goes out to all the magazines that a ni**a.” Since Tupac has been on the cover of practically every hip hop magazine, it greatly shows his influence and power that he had in the rap industry.
While we are all pretty familiar with the death of Tupac, whether it is real or not, we see here that he has made quite the impact on the rap industry. From coming out of prison and reading “The Prince”, we see a big change in the way he carried himself. He made power become such a big part towards the end of his life and he made it very easy to stay at the top.