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All Eyez on Me, the Tupac Biopic That Explores the Life That Led to the Rapper’s Politically Charged

An outspoken critic of the justice system, Tupac Shakur spun his defiance into a poetic coat of armor. He used his talents to write controversial lyrics that excoriated adversity and inequality under the failed institutions of our material world—until the bullets of a 1996 drive-by shooting in Las Vegas took his life, at just 25. On June 16—what would have been the late rapper’s 46th birthday—Summit/Codeblack is releasing All Eyez on Me, a biopic chronicling the artist’s prolific career at Interscope and Death Row Records and the legacy of the great “Makaveli” (one of his stage names). Director Benny Boom cast newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. in the leading role in an ambitious effort to unearth the outspoken iconoclast’s softer side. The film touches on Tupac’s romance with Kidada Jones (a daughter of venerable music producer Quincy Jones), who was engaged to Shakur at the time of his death. Annie Ilonzeh plays Jones, and she and Shipp make a great on-screen match—they even have a favorite Tupac song in common, “Dear Mama.”

“Everyone has their own perception of Tupac,” says Shipp of his doppelgänger. “He’s more than the thug the media painted a picture of. He was passionate about people and fighting oppression. He was an activist.” Indeed, the themes of his songs remain all too relevant in today’s political climate. “Pac may have been physically silenced, but his music will live on forever,” says actress Kat Graham, who portrays Shakur’s longtime friend Jada Pinkett (before she became Pinkett Smith) with raw intensity. “He made quite an impact, but I think he had a lot more to say and do. There’s no better time to retell his story.”

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