How to Write Songs Like Tupac

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The bestselling rapper of all-time, Tupac Shakur, has been just as prolific since his death in 1996 as he was alive, thanks to continuous posthumous album releases. Dubbed a "Thug Nigga Intellectual" at a Harvard University symposium dedicated to his legacy, Tupac remains a champion of social causes for bringing attention to issues that are just as relevant today.

  • Study poetry. In his teens, Tupac studied poetry at the Baltimore School for the Arts. This gave him a base knowledge of rhyme, rhythm and metre on which he would later built his rap songs.

  • Read a wide range of literature. It's been said that Tupac, a high school dropout, was more well-read at the age of 20 than the average first-year student at an Ivy League college. Tupac continued to read while he served a prison sentence in 1995. He was inspired by authors such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Maya Angelou and Alice Walker, which was reflected in his later songs.

  • Tackle social problems. As one of the most socially conscious rappers, Tupac tackled social issues such as poverty, racism, violence, police brutality and substance abuse in virtually all of his songs.

  • Give your song titles clever backronyms. Instead of acronyms, Tupac would create "backronyms" for popular rap terms such as T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E., which he dubbed "The Hate U Give Little Infants Fuc*s Everybody" and N.I.G.G.A.Z., which Tupac said stood for "Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished."

  • Make death a central theme of your songs. Often surrounded by the death of friends and family, Tupac made death and dying a central theme in many of his songs, including "Something 2 Die 4," "Last Wordz," "How Long Will They Mourn Me?," "If I Die 2Nite," "Death Around The Corner" and "To Live & Die In L.A."

  • Write prophetic lyrics. Albums such as "The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory" include songs that seemed to foreshadow Tupac's untimely death, and have also encouraged the conspiracy theory that he is in fact alive and well.

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