Pearce illuminates the kaleidoscopic aspects of Shakur’s life ... The oral history format is an appropriate way to convey such a complicated life, but it’s also only as good as its sources, and (as Pearce notes) there are a lot of other Tupac book projects that limited his access. He gamely attempts to turn this into an asset, and sometimes he scores remarkable details...But too many important details (album releases, arrests) are handled in footnotes, and there’s too much reliance on other reporters to flesh out the narrative ... The life of a figure as magnetic and incendiary as Tupac Shakur, though, can’t help being gripping.
... timely and noteworthy. Candidly told through the voices of people with whom Shakur interacted—both closely and less so—the book provides insight into his personality and details the circumstances that influenced and motivated him. In almost cinematic fashion, these accounts create a nuanced portrait of Shakur’s story ... Culminating with a poignant discussion of who Shakur might have become had he not been killed, the work leaves its readers, and its interview subjects, to imagine how he might have used his art to comment on issues like police brutality ... With 2021 marking both the 25th anniversary of Shakur’s death and what would have been his 50th birthday, this is a strong addition to public, academic, and research libraries, especially those with hip-hop collections.
... riveting ... Each section opens with an interlude that adds to Amaru’s story, suggesting parallels to the indelible impact of these two celebrated individuals. The insights in this absorbing narrative contribute to a deeper understanding of Shakur’s complexity as a person and an artist. With the resurgence of interest in Shakur’s music and the impending anniversary of his murder, this is a timely addition to the fascinating story of Shakur’s legendary, ubiquitous, and enduring legacy.