More than two decades after the death of Tupac Shakur at the age of 25, his friend Snoop Dogg is still remembering the impact he made not only on the world of music, but on himself as both an artist and human.
On Friday, the rapper and actor inducted his late friend and collaborator into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and he delivered a heartfelt speech about what Shakur represented in the industry.
“When I sat down to gather my thoughts about my late and great, my homie and my brother there’s one thought that kept coming back: Tupac was actually really good,” Snoop said of Shakur, whom he collaborated with on 1996″s “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” — a song Snoop, 45, performed in 2012 at Coachella alongside a hologram of Shakur.
“While many remember him now as some kind of thugged-out superhero, Tupac really was only good, and he represented through his music like no one before. It’s the fact that he never shied away from it. He wore it like a badge of honor,” Snoop added. “With an unapologetic voice, Pac embraced those contradictions that proved we ain’t just a character out of someone else’s storybook.”
The twosome, known for their West Coast love and the resulting influence it had on their lyrics, were both artists on Suge Knight and Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records. Following “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” they teamed up for “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which was released the year after Tupac’s death.
“To me, Tupac was first and foremost a homeboy. We shared a whole lot in common. The way our journey started together. We were both born in the same [neighborhood in] ’71,” Snoop recalls. “He saw me as an actor. He saw more potential in me than I saw in myself, and it’s funny because after he passed away, I started getting a lot of movie roles and all this stuff. Pac was looking out for us even after he was gone.”
The entertainment business was just one side of Shakur, according to his friend. Aside from the unforgettable mark he made on the world of music and film, Snoop says there was so much more to the All Eyez on Me rapper.
“While we may be here to celebrate one of music’s most prolific and outspoken artists as he’s rightfully enshrined as one of the greatest musicians to ever do it, I’m here to make sure that Pac is remembered the way he would have wanted to be: a strong black man who stood up,” Snoop said. “Not somebody who acted like a rapper, but as a human.”
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“That’s what made Tupac an amazing actor on the big screen in movies like Above the Rim and Juice,” Snoop continued. “That’s what made him so engaged with everything he ever did. Both before and after his death. That’s what made Tupac the greatest rapper of all time.”
Snoop’s emotional speech included anecdotes of the pair’s time together throughout their growing careers and a note that Shakur “was taught how to love at a very early age.”
“Through his music, he shared the love with all of us, and that’s ultimately why we’re here tonight,” Snoop said. “Pac’s a part of history for a reason — because he made history.”
“You will always be the best. You will live on forever. Legends always do,” Snoop addressed his friend in the conclusion of his speech. “They can’t take this away from you, homie. I love you, Tupac. Welcome to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony will be broadcast on HBO April 29 at 8:00 pm ET/PT.