“Don’t settle for less, even a genius asks-es questions. Be grateful for blessings. Don’t ever change. Keep your essence.” — Tupac from “Me Against the World.” Tupac Shakur was a creative force of nature during the 1990s, and while he was known for 90s gangsta rap, he also wrote lyrics encouraging people to keep their heads up, advocating for respecting women (and a women’s right to choose), and shinning a light on societal issues hurting inner city communities. He was an activist fighting for equality through his art.
He also stole the show in a handful of movies, including one that I loved in high school called Poetic Justice (he starred in it with Janet Jackson). His life was tragically cut short at just 25 years old. But even in his brief time on earth, he left an indelible mark with his creative voice. Here are three creativity lessons we can learn from Tupac’s life:
- Embrace your contradictions.
Tupac was a complex individual who embodied many contradictions – he was at once a sensitive poet and a fierce rapper, a political activist and a self-proclaimed thug. But rather than trying to fit into one box or the other, he embraced all of these aspects of himself and channeled them into his art. As creatives, we can learn from Tupac’s willingness to embrace the full spectrum of our emotions and experiences, and to use them to fuel our work.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Tupac was known for his bold, controversial lyrics that tackled issues like police brutality, racism, and poverty. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and take risks with his art, even when it might have been safer or easier to stay silent. As creatives, we can learn from Tupac’s fearlessness and remember that taking risks is often a necessary part of creating truly great art.
- Use your platform for good.
Despite his troubled past and controversial lyrics, Tupac was deeply committed to using his platform for good. He was involved in various philanthropic efforts and used his music to raise awareness about important social issues. As creatives, we can learn from Tupac’s example and remember that we have a responsibility to use our art for good, to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, and to make a positive impact on the world.
Tupac’s legacy lives on through his music and the lessons we can learn from his creative spirit. May we all embrace our contradictions, take risks, and use our platforms for good.