with a new five-part series Dear MotherAlan Hughes narrates what is arguably the most intriguing, most comprehensive, most deep-cutting cinematic exploration into the life and times of late rap legend Tupac Shakur and his revolutionary mother, Afeni Shakur.
But Hughes is hardly a biographer when it comes to Tupac, who was shot and killed by still-unknown assailants in Las Vegas in 1996. The filmmaker is also an important part of Shakur’s story.
And it wasn’t always pretty.
Allen and his twin brother and longtime directing partner, Albert Hughes, first met the New York-born, Baltimore-raised, Bay Area-schooled poet and musician at a San Francisco Waffle House in 1990, when the two met on the Digital Underground – The “Humpty Dance” party outfit that brought a pre-fame Shakur into the fold as a backup dancer, roadie and eventual featured artist. The Hughes Brothers, Who Will Become Hollywood’s Next Big Things When Their Gritty, Gripping Street Drama Menace II Society opened for raves in 1993, making some short films that attracted attention at the time, and expanding to music videos. he was hired to shoot Scene for “Throw Your Hands in the Air” Single from Digital Underground spin-off group Raw Fusion.
Shakur had seen Hughes’ short films, and told Allen in the restroom that he wanted to hire him to direct in a new interview. “And there was this kid at the end of the table who was flipping everybody over, roasting everybody, the funniest dude I ever encountered. And it was Tupac. He was unknown at the time. I didn’t know his Have an album in the can (her 1991 solo debut, 2Pacalypse Now), and he had one film (1992’s Juice) in Cain. He was still famous.
Shakur saw Hughes’ short films, and told Allen in the restroom that he wanted to hire him to direct. His First video. “I thought he was just talking,” admits Allen. Nevertheless, the filmmaker was so impressed with Pac’s energy that he made sure he was front and center at the beginning of Raw Fusion’s video. “We waited 30 minutes until he showed up before we started rolling.”
Says Ellen, perhaps lightly, if you already know the story: “Then began an intense friendship and working relationship.”
Shakur enlisted Hughes to direct his first two music videos, along with his “Talk”. “trapped in”And “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” The latter of which made the rapper a real star.
And then things got worse. After Shakur’s acclaimed acting debut Juice“He was kind enough to play a role hazard That lead role was not there to help us make our film,” says Allen. “But Tupac was becoming a little unpredictable. He had mood swings, I think the pressure was getting to him. And it became quite volatile at a certain point. I had to let him go because it was too disruptive in rehearsals.” was happening. Unfortunately (after that), he later joined me along with some gang members. And it turned violent.
Hughes was shooting a video for a track hazardThe soundtrack of Spice1’s “Trigga Got No Heart,” When Shakur arrived with his aforementioned associates. Allen was badly beaten up, with witnesses claiming that Pac had ordered a crew of around 30 gang members to attack the filmmaker. The Hughes brothers filed assault and battery charges against the rapper-actor and Shakur — who admitted guilt But Yo! mtv raps , 15 days in jail in 1994,
Now, nearly 20 years later, Allen has turned biographer of the artist, which, the director says, hasn’t sat well with some of the beloved artist’s loyalists.
“There’s some internet chatter and some rabid fans — or so-called ‘fans’ — are like, ‘What’s he directing (this)? Didn’t Tupac hate that?,'” Hughes says. “It’s like, Listen, a**hole, Tupac has apologized multiple times for his actions, and is looking to reconcile. We just weren’t in a place where we had to physically reach it. But I am not a simple person. … I love Tupac. I am very proud of our shared journey and the international icon he has become. There’s no way I’m ever going to dream of a f***ing that.
“The only thing I was looking for was answers and understanding. ‘Cause there’s so much misunderstanding when you see his image. He’s such a global icon. You see him in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America. He’s everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I didn’t understand a lot, and I think there was a lot of confusion. So I was searching for the meaning of his journey, his story and so I started with his mother .
Still, Hughes admitted that he had some reluctance when Shakur’s estate first approached him about directing a Tupac documentary. There was personal stuff, yes, but he also felt the expense from his 2017 HBO series rude peopleJoe music moguls Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine (“That took everything away from me, it sent me to a mental institution,” he says, figuratively).
Three days after their meeting, Hughes agreed to it – until the focus of the piece expanded to include Pac’s relationship with Afeni, the famous political activist and Black Panther member who is of rapper fame as an alcoholic. Struggling with substance addiction. (The series is named after Tupac’s 1995 hit singlewho paid tribute to him.)
“When I think of one of my favorite movies, The Godfather Part III see that dual narrative where you learn about the sins of the father and how they fall on the son and why Michael Corleone is what he is and why Don Vito got it, about his desire to take down the “son-mother in relation to Dear Mother, “So if that’s true for fathers, what about mother’s actions and thoughts and single mothers (in particular)? ‘Cause I was raised by a single mother. So I was interested in her story because I knew That we’d find the enigma of Tupac through that. And boy, I had no idea how similar they were.
Dear Mother The episode spends nearly five hours exploring parallels between Tupac’s and Afeni’s lives, but Allen offers to summarize them.
“Right down to their experiences,” he says. “She was a poet. She was a performance artist as a high school student. These are all similar trajectories. She went to hearings at 100 Center Street (Manhattan Courthouse). She went to trial at 100 Center Street . And they were the same age. These are all twin parallels.
Hughes says the series also challenges some of the narratives about the Shakurs. “There is a clear one with him that he was some sort of gangster. I think this is just a huge misconception about him. I don’t think much was known about him. We hear she was a panther, and we hear she was addicted to crack and eventually found a way to recover. But that’s all we heard. We don’t know anything else. … I think it’s stretched pretty thin, the narrative, when it comes down to it.
Still, music fans will be interested to know that the series ultimately delves far more heavily into Tupac history and lore, exploring the mind-numbing output the hip-hop icon has produced over his 25 years (four solo albums, one collaborative album, seven films). ) left behind. seven posthumous album releases). An interviewer says in the first episode, “He lived eight lives in three months.”
And, yes, in the second episode Hughes addresses his history with Shakur, warts and all.
Hughes explains in our interview, “I think when we all started working together, me and my brother and Tupac, the one thing we didn’t have was a lack of passion.” “We were very loud, very emotional, and he was very loud and very emotional, very emotional. We all were, but it worked. There were no real disagreements in the early days. They started coming later.
“When I look back now, we were all 19. We were all young black boys who were in these big-ass jobs that were (not) a generation before us. We’d be lucky to be in college, Let alone budding film stars/recording artistes and film directors.”
Dear Mother Premieres April 21 on FX.
watch the trailer: