In my mind , in addition to DC and Marvel, there is another multiverse. There is the MC multiVERSE, as in the acronym for Masters of Ceremony used for rappers and Hip Hop artists, and the verses they use to inform and offer a glimpse of their view of the world. Just like the interlaced origin stories of imaginary where superheroes bounce back and forth, merging in one story and developing individual characters in another, so do the riveting true stories of the innovators who gave us Hip Hop and Rap music before we knew we needed it.
All Eyez On Me is a worthy installment in this artistic multiVERSE of poets, truth tellers, and musical geniuses taking everyone along for a ride on a taste of the cultural experience of Black people in America. Demetrius Shipp Jr. is riveting as the charismatic, idealist Son of Danai Gurira who scene for scene steals the screen from Shipp as Afeni Shakur, his Mother. Her determination and focused demeanor to raise children who are always aware that the system has an agenda for the surveillance and incarceration of Black men and women, is unswerving.
The film spends just enough time in each phase of Tupac’s life, showing significant events and people who influenced, guided, exploited, loved, abandoned, warned, envied and betrayed him. There are angels and demons, false idols and signals. And then there was the noise. That head nodding beat pulsating behind lyrics that made me smile again while reliving the first time I heard each song displaying his evolution as an artist. As an ensemble piece, the cast authentically captures the menacing business acumen of Suge Knight, a young Snoop Dogg, Tupac’s confidant Jada Pinkett, and the complicated Biggie. Intertwined with the stellar acting is actual footage filming pivotal moments from sources like security cameras that captured a violent fight in the Las Vegas MGM Grand.
There have been many documentaries and dramatic productions capturing some version of the history of and contributors to rap and hip hop, with more about to be released. After all, these performers are in their 40’s and 50’s now! However, I want to see more. Two years ago Straight Outta Compton stunned with a multi-million box office return no one expected. I anticipate that All Eyez On Me will do the same.
If I have my way, the next feature film on this multiVERSE needs to dive back to the women of rap and hip hop who were there back in the day of Interscope, Death Row Records, Def Jam, Aftermath etc. I want to see their intertwined origins story from the point of view of Queen Latifah, Roxanne Shanté, MC Lyte and more.
Although we all know how the story ends, the Tupac portrayed has many facets that aid to understand his motivations. From the classical acting lead in Hamlet in a school for performing arts as a teenager, to naïve prey to the business associates who had an agenda for his talent, to movie star playing tough roles reflecting his experiences, to reflective inmate determined to speak his truth, to prolific poet.
One can only wonder if he would have left as much as 100 years of unreleased music, like Prince, if he had made it past the age of 25. In the age of CGI overload masking as substance, go see All Eyez on Me and bear witness to the life of a bright comet, taken way too quickly, that left us remembering one of the greats through his brilliant verses.