Tupac musical steps closer to Broadway

By Kristen Butler,
Rap artist Tupac Shakur memorial mural in the lower east side of Manhattan. (File/UPI/Ezio Petersen)
Rap artist Tupac Shakur memorial mural in the lower east side of Manhattan. (File/UPI/Ezio Petersen) | License Photo

A new musical based on the music of Tupac Shakur has moved closer to a 2013-2014 Broadway premiere as the project enters a five-week workshop in New York City.

The musical is titled "Holler If Ya Hear Me" after a song on Tupac's second studio album, "Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z."


Tupac's music focused on inner-city violence, racism, and other social ills. Also known by the stage name 2Pac, he fueled the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry in the early 1990s between his label Death Row Records and East-Coast rapper The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, at Bad Boy Records.

Both rappers were ultimately murdered, with Tupac shot in a drive-by in Las Vegas. Both cases remain officially unsolved, though most theories point to gang involvement.

The "nonbiographical" musical, however, is billed differently.

"An original story set in the present day on the inner-city streets of a Midwestern industrial city, the musical tells the story of two childhood friends and their extended families as they struggle to reconcile the challenges and realities of their daily lives with their hopes, dreams and ambitions."

The story sounds similar to the rise of rapper Eminem, who was born in Missouri before spending his teenage years in Detroit, and has often pointed to Tupac as an influence for his music.


The show will be directed by Tony Award nominee Kenny Leon, and is produced by the late rapper's mother, Afeni Shakur, along with others. "Holler If Ya Hear Me" will feature choreography by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento, ("The Who's Tommy," "Wicked"), with musical supervision by Daryl Waters, ("Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk," "The Color Purple," "Memphis").

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