First, the caveat. Please take this post as coming from a 62 year old conservative leaning white Italian guy from South Philadelphia. That said, whenever I think about the twin homicide tragedies of Lesane Parish Crooks, aka Tupac Shakur and Christopher George Latore Wallace, aka as Biggie Smalls, I get choked up. Both of these men were murdered in their early 20’s within 6 months of each other in 1996 – ’97 and neither of their assailants has ever been apprehended. Even within such a short creative time, Tupac and Biggie have had an outsized influence that has transcended far beyond the Rap/Hip Hop genre. Suffice it to say that Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were not two of, but the two most intelligent, insightful, and yes, entertaining commentators of the inner city Black and, by extension, American experience of the late 20th century. Not unlike Juvenal from the Roman Era, Beowulf, Samuel Johnson from the Enlightenment period, Poor Richard’s Almanac, de Tocqueville, …you get the idea, Tupac and Biggie chronicled the life and times in mostly poor Black America with such acute insight that, had they lived, it makes one wonder how those chronicles might have evolved. I first, by chance, heard “Juicy” a song on Notorious B.I.G’s album “Ready to Die” in 1994 while driving my daughter to middle school as she was flipping through her favorite radio channels. I actually had to pull over for a minute to compose myself while listening to that song! As Biggie says in “Juicy”, …”if you don’t know, now you know, N****r, and I knew then that I needed to know more about this guy. Something similar happened when I heard Tupac Shakur’s, “Letter to the President” from his album, “Still I Rise”. In Tupac’s “Letter”, he details with such a ferocious clarity the problems in his “neighborhood”, problems that are imposed from the larger society and far more importantly, from individuals’ personal responsibility, and lack of it, for the distressed conditions in the community. Am I too effusive in my descriptions of these guys? I’d love to know what others think.