Students react to interactive exhibit “Tupac Shakur: Wake Me When I’m Free” on legendary rap icon

USC Visions and Voices sponsored the visit to give an up-close look at Tupac’s impact on music, activism and society.

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Though Tupac Shakur died more than two decades ago, his legacy lives on.

Created alongside the Shakur Estate, L.A. Live’s new museum experience, “Tupac Shakur: Wake Me When I’m Free,” resonated with USC students who visited the exhibit.

“I’m glad [the exhibit] was created because it also just shows people what it’s like to be Black in America, the things we all go through on a daily basis,” said Ryan Christian, a USC sophomore business administration major.

The new exhibit is equipped with interactive video and audio and includes elements of Tupac’s technology, contemporary art and never-before-seen artifacts, including his journal from his personal archives.

USC Visions and Voices, a university arts initiative, bused students to the exhibit on Wednesday, Feb. 23. The excursion was part of the  initiative’s “Experience L.A.” series, which takes students on trips around the city to experience L.A.’s dynamic cultural landscape firsthand.

USC students learned about the life of late American rapper Tupac who left a legacy upon music, arts and activism.

“[The exhibit] allowed you to really understand Tupac’s true legacy and the impact that he’s had not on just his own generation, but the generations after,” said Mackenzie Martin, sophomore business administration major.

Christian described the exhibit as real and “raw.”

“[The exhibit] truly showed every aspect of his life, including, his mom was a Black Panther, and he went to jail,” Christian said. “I thought it was just really awesome and really refreshing. I thought it was beautiful.”

Many students shared experiences growing up with older relatives listening to Tupac or being acquainted with his pop icon status, and hoped to learn more about his life and view his artifacts. Students said they were especially looking forward to viewing Tupac’s infamous journal.

Sophomore global health major Naomi Alarcon believes his journal shows how Tupac stands out in his thoughtfulness and the effort he put in his writing.

“When you think of rappers, especially, you don’t really think of them as being writers and sitting down and writing all of this poetry out,” Alarcon said.

Visions and Voices offered free transportation and admission to the event in Downtown L.A. Marie-Reine Velez, USC Visions and Voices assistant director who attended last week’s event, noted how Tupac’s work encapsulated real world issues he faced.

“Part of his impact is talking about how we can change society and make the world we live in better for our future,” Velez said.

The trip also included a lecture from the Thornton School of Music’s Jae Deal, a part-time lecturer, industry musical producer and composer.

People come and go, but legends never die. Tupac Shakur influenced a generation with his catchy melodies and slick rhymes, changing the music industry in the process. For USC students, his legend continues to live on through a unique musical experience.

The museum experience will run at The Canvas at L.A. Live until May 1. For more information on upcoming Visions and Voices events, visit their website.