"Sometimes life gets messed up." You can say that again, Tupac. For while this excellent documentary more than succeeds in its aim of celebrating the short life of this gifted rapper/actor, you can't help but feel sadness. You'll certainly be left pondering how such an articulate, intelligent individual met so untimely an end - partly, it must be said, through his own intemperate behaviour.
Tupac's death has been well documented, not least in Nick Broomfield's Biggie And Tupac. Here, though, his life is the focus, even if it's given a slightly otherworldly spin by having Shakur tell his tale of "ambition, violence, redemption and love" from beyond the grave. Using interviews shot in the studio and in prison, director Lauren Lazin lets the hip-hop icon explain in his own words how he progressed from childhood poverty to global fame. "I got a big mouth," he admits at one point, but it's this eloquence that gives the film its credibility.
Tupac's story begins in jail (his mother, a former Black Panther, was incarcerated while pregnant) and makes periodic stops there on the way to the morgue. But Shakur - named after an Inca indian martyr - was no hoodlum. Trained at the Baltimore School for the Arts, he was well-read and politically aware, qualities that initially found their way into his music. The problems began when this `nice young man' began to believe his rep as a hardcore badass. Which begs the question: were controversy and violence a result of his raw talent, or did he deliberately seek them out?
In retrospect, signing for "Suge" Knight's Death Row Records was the beginning of the end, precipitating the feud with Biggie Smalls that probably led to Shakur's second, fatal shooting. But it also brought on an astonishing period of creativity that, eight years on, is still producing new material. Resurrection is perhaps too adulatory to give Shakur the objective appraisal he deserves. Yet it's still a fitting tribute to an artist who, at the time of his death, was only just beginning to find his voice.