Tupac’s birthday reminds hip hop fans of the loss they experienced upon hearing of Tupac’s death at the age of 25 back in 1996. Tupac would have been 45 years old had he lived. A trailer for the upcoming All Eyez On Me movie was released today to coincide with his birthday, and it shows an unknown actor who looks incredibly similar to Tupac going through rough times on the streets of urban America. Demetrius Shipp, Jr. hopes to bring fans a living memory of the artist they miss so much.
As Daily Mail reports, the new movie is scheduled to come out on November 11, which is more or less one month after the date that Tupac died, on September 13. This year will mark 20 years after Tupac died, but this movie was not the first time he was brought back to life. Last year’s smash hip hop biopic film Straight Outta Compton featured a short scene with Tupac in a recording booth with the Death Row Records posse goofing off in the studio outside.
— Variety (@Variety) June 16, 2016
Tupac was also brought to life on stage at a concert with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in 2012. As Gizmodo reports, between $100,000 and $400,000 was spent for that lifelike recreation. It amazed fans at the Coachella Festival as it used a team known for their Hollywood special effects. It wasn’t actually a Tupac hologram, but a skilled use of mirrors and projection that created something even more lifelike.
Besides Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. will be represented in the movie by Jamal Woolard, the same actor that played Biggie in his own biopic from 2009, Notorious. Dominic L. Santana will play a very well cast Suge Knight. He also looks convincingly similar, unlike the actor who played Suge Knight in Straight Outta Compton, who many times possessed a somewhat innocent and compassionate look on his face even as he did his dirty work.
Brooklyn rapper Maino also appears in the trailer. Maino playes Walter “King Tut” Johnson, a criminal that some believe had a hand in Tupac’s murder. Jada Pinkett Smith’s role in Tupac’s life is represented by Kat Graham. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, long-time wife of Will Smith, used to date Tupac all the way back in high school.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 16, 2016
The businessman and artist Sean Combs, today known as Diddy, formerly P. Diddy, and even earlier as Puff Daddy, someone central to the career of Notorious B.I.G. but also someone close to the East Coast-West Coast conflict in hip hop that ended in the deaths of the two rappers, will be played by Stefon Washington.
All Eyez On Me follows the unprecedented success of hip hop biopic Straight Outta Compton. Tupac is a child of that movie’s story, as it tells the story of those that paved the way for him. But Tupac took it further by achieving a legendary reputation for heartfelt music and a crazy lifestyle.
Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s real-life mother, died before she got to see this trailer come out on Tupac’s birthday. Afeni died last month while holding the executive producer title on this film. There was quite a bit of conflict between the production company and Afeni, including lawsuits. Movies like this are typically hard to make due to copyright law entanglements with regard to getting the rights to use music on film. Other movies, including ones that would have portrayed Tupac, were held up precisely for that reason.
Music video director Benny Boom serves as director on All Eyez On Me. He has directed countless music videos, most of them rap or R&B. Tupac fans will hold his work up to history, so though he hasn’t directed many feature films, this needs to be more than just one long music video.
Fans can celebrate Tupac’s birthday by putting on their favorite Tupac CD and counting down the months until the All Eyez On Me movie is more than just a trailer.
[Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images]