Tupac Shakur has a new musical entitled Holler If Ya Hear Me that is based upon the deceased rapper’s music, which had a preview last night on Broadway with celebrity Madonna in attendance. Shakur died on September 13, 1996 at the age of 25 from wounds suffered during a drive by shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Monday would have been Tupac’s 43rd birthday if he were still alive today.
The musical based on the music of the legendary rapper will be playing at the Palace Theatre in New York City. The production is alleged to have an eight million dollar budget. It will feature songs from throughout Tupac’s career, including classics such as Keep Ya Head Up, California Love, Me Against the World and of course the title song Holler If Ya Hear Me.
The musical with be directed by Kenny Leon who became famous when he received a Tony Award nomination for Fences in 2010. The play was written by Todd Kreidler and is being produced by Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother, along with Jessica Green, Chunsoo Shin, and Eric L. Gold. The stars of the musical production will be Christopher Jackson as Vertus, Saul Williams as John, Ben Thompson as Griffy and Saycon Sengbloh as Corinne.
When attending the preview of Tupac’s new musical Holler If Ya Hear Me Madonna sat in the third row to see the gangster rap inspired production. If the idea of gangster rap on Broadway seems like an unbelievable concept, Christopher Jackson a star in the musical directs critics to such trailblazing shows as the rock musical The Who’s Tommy based on music by The Who as well as American Idiot, which used Green Day music. Jackson said “I think Broadway is waking up to the idea that rap is an incredible tool for telling a musical story.”
The musical is a non-biographical interpretation of Tupac’s music. It is a creative work that is simultaneously a romantic “love story,” as well as a “vivid picture” of living in the inner city streets according to the official website. Holler If Ya Hear Me is played out in an urban inner city where African American families have a daily struggle for peace against the odds of life’s regular challenges. There is family, friendship, change, hope and revenge all wrapped into one story that looks into the realities of the inner city streets and is still very relevant today even though many Shakur’s works are over 20 years old now.
Back in 2010 the Library of Congress chose Shakur’s Dear Mama to become part of its collection in the National Recording Registry. Tupac also had some acting experience in the films Poetic Justice and Above the Rim. He recorded five albums in his short career 2Pacalypse Now, All Eyez on Me, Me Against the World, Pac’s Life and Until the End of Time. He is considered by many to be the best rapper of all time with his east coast arch nemesis Biggie being in contention of the title of the greatest.
Including Madonna, other celebrities to attend the preview for Tupac’s Holler If Ya Hear Me included Chris Rock, Bobby Cannavale and Elizabeth Rodriguez. Tickets are on sale now and it will open to the public on Thursday June 19 at the Palace Theatre in New York City.
By B. Taylor Rash