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The Tupac Documentaries That Paved The Way For ‘Dear Mama’

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
The forthcoming FX docuseries focuses on the rapper’s significance in hip-hop culture even after his death. However, it’s only the most recent cinematic take on the icon’s life.

Tupac Shakur remains a significant figure in hip-hop culture. The media continues to investigate and research new facts and stories about the life of the 25-year-old who was cut short after being murdered. Allen Hughes is now stepping up to the plate and sharing his interpretation of what story to tell through his history and lens of the late rapper with Dear Mama. The FX docuseries is a five-part program that incorporates rare footage, interviews and unheard vocals from Tupac and those in his close circle of friends and loved ones.

The release of Dear Mama dropping over the weekend highlights the conversation surrounding the legacy of Tupac Shakur. It introduces his artistry and activism to the next generation of artists to see him as more than his death.

“There have been a million pieces done on him, but none of them did the trick as far as understanding completely that narrative and that human being and the complexities and the dualities,” Hughes tells Billboard. “You talk about the surface stuff, but there was never a deep dive. I wanted to understand.”

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The docuseries airs every Friday and streams on Hulu the next day, showcasing Tupac’s life during his formative years through his mother’s eyes providing a unique context for new and old fans to find a different appreciation for the late rapper. Boardroom has taken the time to round up some of the Tupac documentaries that will get viewers ready and studied up for Dear Mama.

The Biggest Tupac Documentary Projects in TV and Film

Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake… (2001)

This documentary focuses on the final years of the 25-year-old rapper through the lens of Eazy-E, Russell Simmons, and Tupac bodyguard Frank Alexander showcasing never-before-seen footage. This project served as one of the early documentations that shared the world’s curiosity about what happened to the rapper and what his days were like through the lens of the people who spoke to him before he died.

Tupac: Resurrection (2003)

The Lauren Lazin production was released in 2003 documentary narrated by Shakur himself. The film was released by Paramount Pictures in November 16, 2003, to December 21, 2003. The overall gross for the documentary was $7.8 million, making it the No. 11 highest-grossing documentary of that year. It additionally received an Academy Award nomination.

Who Killed Tupac? (2017)

Through this investigative docuseries Benjamin Crump and Stephanie Frederic look into the key theories that connect the dots to finding the person responsible for murdering Tupac and what happened leading up to his death. The documentary focuses on Crump seeking proof and validation that shows Shakur did not receive due process after his murder. “In the last 20 years since Tupac’s death, a lot of myths and conspiracy theories have sprung up,” Crump said. “I need to go back over the basic evidence of the case so I can start separating facts from fiction.”

What’s Different About Dear Mama? (2023)

The focus of Dear Mama stems from the aftermath of Snoop Dogg acquiring Death Row Records and releasing the music on streaming platforms informing the next generation about Tupac’s music 30 years later. This approach allows those to learn more about who Tupac was through his music and how his childhood upbringing inspired his artistry.

“We decided if we’re going to get into a documentary, we have to approach it using the same criteria that we do with our scripted shows,” Hughes said. “How original can it be? Is this something that people are still hopefully going to be talking about in 10 years, in 20 years?”

The docuseries holds a different historical background due to the relationship Hughes and Shakur had in the past and looking at his life deeper through the lens of his mother and surprising facts.

More Tupac Shakur Documentaries to Watch

  • Tupac Shakur: Thug Angel (2002)
  • Biggie & Tupac (2002)
  • 2Pac 4 Ever (2003)
  • Tupac vs. (2004)
  • Tupac: Hip Hop Genius (2004)
  • So Many Years, So Many Tears (2006)
  • One Night in Vegas (2010)
  • Murder Rap: Inside the Biggie and Tupac Murders (2015)


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