I really hit a Tupac period over the summer. Frustrated at work and tired, I buried myself in some long form YouTube videos about the fallen MC. I started working my way through his pre-death discography backwards and as I reached the end of All Eyez On Me, I searched around to see if the definite book about Pac had been written. When I saw Changes was an oral history about Tupac, I set out to acquire it.
I fell in love with oral histories when Grantland was a thing and Changes does not disappoint in that area. It paints a picture of Tupac told through the eyes of those who knew him, from the kid who asked for a job when Tupac came to his prom to the Las Vegas beat reporter who covered the last 7 days of his life.
There’s not a lot of time spent on the things we already know. Pearce instead tells about the NY kid who moved to Baltimore, who flourished, who then moved to Oakland and still flourished. We find out how instead of getting angry with Wendy Day when she wrote him in prison and scolded him for being there, he responded with kind words and the utmost respect. Pearce writes of how close Tupac was to being exonerated in 1994 and how his rape conviction set him him on the path that led him to his death 2 years later.
I felt like I had many holes in my knowledge of who Tupac was coming into this read but I have a better understanding from the narrative Pearce created. At the heart of it all, Pac was a 25 year old kid who had the world at his feet, a complete lack of fear, and the flaw of being loyal to a fault. That loyalty is what got him killed. It may have gotten him killed regardless. But that loyalty is also what made him such an incredible figure who left such a huge impact on this world in such a brief stay.
Outstanding read. Will revisit again.