Tupac Shakur once famously asked how long he would be mourned. On Friday (April 7) — 21 years after his death — his legacy was further cemented as he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
As expected, collaborator Snoop Dogg accepted the honors on ‘Pac’s behalf. He was joined by Alicia Keys, YG, Naughty By Nature’s Treach, and T.I. for a medley performance that celebrated the late icon’s prolific achievements in music.
“I can’t believe it’s been 21 years since we actually got to hear Tupac, not the one clip on YouTube, not the hologram, Tupac Amaru Shakur the human being,” said Snoop Dogg during his emotional speech. “Twenty-one years ago, Tupac Shakur was taken from all of us. He was only 25 years old, too. Dare me to say that he was gone too soon.”
After reflecting on ‘Pac’s loving nature, his contradictions, his skills, and his humor, Snoop offered this final thoughts. “You will always be the best,” he said. “You will live on forever. Legends always do. They can’t take this away from you, homie. I love you, Tupac. Welcome to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
From there, Keys kicked off the performance behind her piano, honoring Shakur with soothing renditions of “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” “I Get Around,” “I Ain’t Mad at Cha,” “Dear Mama,” and “Changes.”
“One of my favorite things about ‘Pac is the way that he, you know every lyric that he ever said, it came exactly from his life, exactly from his heart,” said Keys. “He was so raw and so real and so honest. And even though I never met him, I wish I did. I learned so much from him. All those stories and all that realness. All the honesty, I took that with me. And now that he’s gone, it’s different.”
Then a show-stealing Versace silk-rocking YG emerged to join Snoop for “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” the in-your-face smash that came to represent ‘Pac and Tha Doggfather’s bond under Death Row.
The show continued with even more stars. Treach, a longtime ‘Pac friend who even has Shakur tattooed on his arm, delivered a performance of the haunting “Hail Mary.” Then T.I. — wearing a ‘Pac-inspired ensemble — performed the inspirational “Keep Ya Head Up” with Snoop, YG, and Treach beside him.
Hip-hop was also represented elsewhere during the Rock Hall ceremony on Friday night as Pharrell Williams came out to help honor Nile Rodgers.
Tupac’s induction marks the sixth time the Rock Hall has opened its doors to a rap act. He follows in the footsteps of Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and most recently, N.W.A.
Snoop Dogg commented on this before this year’s ceremony. “The Hall of Fame has come a long way and we appreciate them for appreciating us for what we do,” he said. “And hopefully there will be many more to come, because there’s a lot of greats in hip-hop that deserve to be here.”