Keep Ya Head Up Official Music Video

           In the official music video for Tupac’s Keep Ya Head Up, we see visions of life in the hood. The video starts off with a message “Dedicated to the memory of Latasha Harlins…. It’s still on”. I previously knew that this song was dedicated to Latasha Harlins but I hadn’t watched the music video, so I thought that the addition of “it’s still on” was an interesting touch. As I mentioned in my first post, the song (and music video) were released in 1993, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. However, the phrase that Tupac decided to put at the beginning of the music video encapsulates the beliefs of many Black folk at the time; this isn’t over, we aren’t done, no justice, no peace. This phrase, “It’s still on” can be applied to any time period in Black American history- even today. I think that phrase fully supports the theme of the song and sets the tone of hope that we see in the video. 

            We then are introduced to an impressionable little boy walking alone with no direction, a group of men cat-calling a woman, a man yelling at his pregnant girlfriend, a dejected single mother, and a group of forgotten black women. I believe Tupac included these negative depictions of the Black community to break them down and show the audience that we are strong enough to overcome them.  He juxtaposes these depictions with shots of black men coming together in (what looks like) a prayer circle, happy Black women, the little boy being reunited with his mother and  happily walking out of a corner store (which may be a nod to the Latasha Harlins situation- Tupac is letting the audience know that little black kids deserve to make it home). Overall, the music video gave me a lens into life in the hood. Although some of these visions could seem grim, Shakur makes it known that this life is multifaceted; it includes joy, triumph, and love.

 1993 MTV Jam’s Performance

                The second text that I found to be compelling was Tupac’s 1993 MTV Jams live performance. In this performance, Tupac raps to a packed crowd in an intimate and small venue. In the background, the band plays a dialed back, funkier version of Shakur’s song that really allows his voice and his words to be the main focus of the performance. Throughout this version, Shakur is yelling the lyrics- I saw it more as preaching them to the crowd. In doing this, it’s obvious that Tupac believes every word he’s saying and wants the audience to do the same. The R&B singer that is featured in the song, Dave Hollister is also on stage with Tupac and performs an improved version full of riffs. I think all of these factors make the performance very authentic. One reason (of many) that Tupac was so popular was because he wasn’t far removed from his fans- they felt they could relate to him and we can see that in this performance. It actually looks like a party and unity can be seen throughout the venue. I  think Tupac wanted this ambiance because it relates the main message of the song- hope and unity will allow us to overcome.