Tupac Shakur

While it is undeniable that Tupac Shakur left an indelible mark on hip-hop through his musical recordings, he also left a lasting impression with his thoughts expressed during the interviews he gave throughout his short lifespan.

On his 15th death anniversary, XXL takes a look back at 25 of ’Pac’s most memorable quotes. —Jesse Gissen


“I have not brought violence to you. I have not brought ‘thug life’ to America. I didn’t create ‘thug life;’ I diagnosed it.” —The Lost Prison Tapes, 2010


“I had no record all my life, no police record until I made a record. As my video was debuting on MTV, I was behind bars getting beat up by the police department.” — Conversations with Ed Gordon, 1994


“Poverty helped me to relate to everybody’s struggle.” —Resurrection, 2004


“I love women. I’m not gonna lie, I love women with a passion. I do, I do, sometimes, now, I just wanna call Prince and just be like, ‘can we hang ’cause I love women like you love women.’” —MTV, 1995


“The same crime element that White people are scared of, Black people are scared of. While they waiting for legislation to pass and everything we next door to the killer. All them killers they lettin’ out, they right there in that building. Just ’cause we Black we get along with the killer or something? What is that? We need protection to.” Conversations with Ed Gordon, 1994

Tupac Shakur

“If you’re raised by a woman, you’re gonna have feminine characteristics, you’re gonna think like a woman. But I’m not a woman, I’m just a normal man. To me, I’m the hardest man around. I’m the hardest nigga out there ’cause I’m real. But, I’m also really soft—I’m very sensitive—that’s why I’m so harsh, ’cause I’m so sensitive. That’s why niggas made me so successful and famous.” —Resurrection, 2004


“Half my fans are white. They listen just as much as the Black fans. They ones that have approached me have been genuine fans. These are people that are going to have jobs in the future that are gonna hire my family.” —MTV, 1994


“I said, I’m gonna write a song about the women like my mom, women like my sister, who I think represent the strong black women, and I did that. Now I’mma write about the women I see everyday and that was ‘[I] Get Around.’ If I just write songs like ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ it would make me seem more than what I am, but I’m just a normal man.” —MTV, 1994


“What makes me saying ‘I don’t give a fuck,’ different from Patrick Henry saying ‘Give me liberty or give me death?’ What makes my freedom any different than Bosnians or who ever [America] wants to fight for this year? They should give money to the ghetto.” —MTV, 1994


“I believe that everything you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that’s bad, I’m gonna suffer for it. But in my heart, I believe what I’m doing is right. So I feel like I’m going to heaven.” —Vibe, 1996


“Nobody can talk about pain like Tupac. Nobody knows it like me. It seperates me from other rappers. All that pain I’m talking about in my rap, you can see it.” —Vibe, 1994


“I’m not looking for approval from the Black community, even though we are a part of the Black community. I’m a thug and I rap about the oppressed fighting back.” —MTV, 1994

Tupac Shakur

“We was asking 10-years ago. We was asking with the Panthers. We was asking with them. We was asking. Now those people, they’re all dead or in jail. So what do you think we’re gonna do? Ask?” —MTV, 1994


“I’m just as guilty for not doing nothing as I am for doing things.” —Vibe, 1995


“Throughout my life I just wanted to be an angel for God. Do something when I could be of some help. And I can do that, I mean, I’m an artist, so it’s not like I have to tell the truth, all I have to do is tell a story and reach you and get some kind of feeling…get the moral across.”—Resurrection, 2004


“God let me live for me to do something extremely extraordinary, and that’s what I have to do.” —Vibe, 1995

Tupac Shakur in Los Angeles

“Why can’t [the President] take some of those people off the street and put them in his White House? Then he’ll have people from the street to help him with his ideas. They haven’t been homeless forever; they’ve done things for society.” —Thug Angel, 2002


“If we really are saying rap is an art form, then we got to be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you saying, it don’t matter that you didn’t make them die, it just matters that you didn’t save them.” —Vibe,1995


“I don’t have any fear of death. My only fear is coming back reincarnated.” —Vibe,1995


I think some cool motherfucker sat down a long time ago and said, Let’s figure out a way to control motherfuckers. That’s what they come up with—the Bible. ’Cause if God wrote the Bible, I’m sure there would have been a revised copy by now.”—Vibe, 1996


“It’s like you got the Vietnam War, and just because the reporters show us pictures at home of the Vietnam War, that’s what made the Vietnam War end, when it did end. The shit probably would have lasted longer if no one knew exactly what was going on; you know we would have probably thought they were dying valiantly in some beautiful way, but, because we saw the horror, that’s what made us stop the Vietnam War. So I thought that’s what I’m going to do as an artist, as a rapper, I’m going to show the most graphic details of what I see in my community, and hopefully they’ll stop it.” —Resurrection, 2004

Photo of Tupac Shakur

“I don’t know if it was Janet [Jackson] that it came from, but suddenly, out of the blue, they wanted me to take an AIDS test for this love scene. I did not disagree if we were really gonna make love, and said if I could make love with Janet Jackson I’d take four AIDS tests, but if I’m gonna do a love scene just like somebody else did, and they didn’t take a test, I’m not taking a test. —Unknown Interview, 1993


“Young black males out there identify with Thug Life but I couldn’t handle it. I could handle it, but not right away. Imagine you have 14,000 people ready to do whatever you want and you gave all over the country, people waiting to hear what you want to do. All of a sudden I have people in the penitentiary, big time OG criminals calling me, telling me they want me to lead their movement. I mean I’m gonna have a problem. I’m gonna have a small identity crisis here. I felt like now I got every man in America wants to take an order from me; wants to know what I wanna do; wants to know what’s my plan for young black males, and that makes me scared. I’m 22. I was having concerts and they were sold out. White boys, Mexicans, Blacks, and they would all do whatever I say. I could tell all these people in the audience to turn around in a circle and they would do it. I was having love, I mean like undeniable love, and I was scared. I was scared but so was America.” —MTV, 1994


“Until it happened, I really did believe that no Black person would ever shoot me. I believed that I didn’t have to fear my own community, You know, I was like I represent them. I’m their ambassador to the world, they will never do me wrong.” —The Lost Prison Tapes, 2010


“I’m not saying I will change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” —MTV, 1994