On How Tupac Took K’Valentine’s Hip-Hop Virginity

“I could not believe that I felt such strong emotions just from listening to music; it was like some sort of magic.”

I can’t remember the day or the hour — which room I was in or who exposed me to it — I’m only certain of one thing and that is: I fell in love with hip-hop the moment I heard Tupac’s 1996 album All Eyez on Me. I don’t remember how old I was at the time, only that an adult owned his album and I began to listen to it without consent. Sadly, by the time the work of this genius poet had been unveiled to me, he had already made his transition to the other side.

It was a two-disc album and the cover art displayed Tupac sitting on a chair holding his chain emblem; he seemed to be looking directly into my eyes. I had fallen in love with my first dose of hip-hop — and the way he stared back at me in the photo made that love seem reciprocated. I remember kissing him right on his lips and then moving my face away so that we were able to stare into each other’s eyes for a moment before I kissed him again.

I was never able to choose which disk I enjoyed the most; both provided something different for me. Disk one began with “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” which gave me chills and got me hyped from start to finish. It was the perfect song to get the adrenaline pumping and the confidence boosted. I would be alone in my room blasting it in my CD player. I still blast it, only now it’s usually via Tidal on my phone.

The song gave me glimpse into how I imagined Tupac’s afterlife.

While I enjoyed the entire album, disk one included one of my all-time favorites, “I Ain’t Mad at Cha.” The song gave me glimpse into how I imagined Tupac’s afterlife. The video for that particular song confirmed, for me, that Tupac had an intimation of his death.

The production on “Got My Mind Made Up” was unique to me at the time. “No More Pain,” “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” and the production on “Heartz of Men” were all heavy hitters to me. “Life Goes On” made me sad; I would envision funerals and get teary-eyed, but I would still put it on repeat. I could not believe that I felt such strong emotions just from listening to music; it was like some sort of magic.

I was a very young girl and I probably should not have been listening to Tupac, but I am grateful that I did, for I gained an education that was unavailable at school. I learned about subjects that were usually off-limits to children. I learned about sex. I also learned how angered Tupac was by white supremacy and the government. That album grew me in a sense. I was able to visualize each song even if I didn’t understand the topic entirely. Listening to this album sparked questions inside of me. Tupac spoke strongly about police brutality, promiscuity of both sexes, monetary gain, loyalty, poverty, violence and the very great need for unity among black people — the most divided and neglected group of people in America.

My earliest experience with betrayal came when a friend of mine stole my chocolate from my book bag after I revealed to her where I kept my secret stash.

Disk two had its lessons as well. I learned that one part Alize and one part Cristal made up the drink “Thug Passion,” for example. I remember mixing juices and acting as if I were intoxicated. “Thug Passion” the song is one of my favorites on disk two, so much so that I made reference to it on a track called “Foreplay” from my forthcoming debut album. On “Foreplay” I rap, “I wanna freak to Pac’s ‘Thug Passion,’ turn on the radio and start smashing.” Tracks such as “Shorty Wanna Be a Thug” gave me an insight into Tupac’s more mature perspective and told the story of how he tried to guide a young soul — one who continually rejected the guidance. “Holla at Me” touched on betrayal, which any and everyone can relate to at some point in life. My earliest experience with betrayal came when a friend of mine stole my chocolate from my book bag after I revealed to her where I kept my secret stash. “Ratha Be Ya Nigga” and “All Eyez on Me” were both standouts as well.

There was absolutely nothing that was off-limits for Tupac. As a little girl, I learned through this album and through other aspects of my life that I have an obligation to speak out and stand up for what is right. Tupac represented those who were unspoken for; he represented a people who didn’t have the opportunity to be heard on the same level/platform as their oppressors. His ability to experience, observe and translate while simultaneously capturing and including the listener enhanced the act of just simply listening to his music.

Tupac was my first. He took my hip-hop virginity and I’ve been in love ever since.

K’Valentine began her lyrical journey by writing poetry to get out emotions she wanted to express. After a chance meeting with world-renowned poet laureate Dr. Maya Angelou before she passed, K’Valentine was encouraged to practice until she mastered her craft. K then wrote poetry non-stop, and those poems transitioned into songs. In 2014, K’Valentine linked up with Javotti Media, owned by Talib Kweli. Her debut album, Here for a Reason, is set to be released in 2017 on Javotti Media.