Cover Image: Changes

Changes

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Member Reviews

Changes is an oral history of Tupac Shakur's life and legacy, perfectly timed for release of the 25th anniversary of his death and 50th anniversary of his birth. The title references a song of Tupac's that became an anthem in worldwide protests last year. It became so popular (again) that it charted on iTunes. More than 20 years later and Tupac's music of systemic racism, policy brutality and mass incarceration still applies.

Sheldon Pearce delivered one of thee best accounts of Tupac's life. Instead of a traditional biography, he interviewed dozens of people to offer an oral history. He didn't include tons of well-known celebrities either. Readers are gifted with rare insight and fresh stories from lesser-known people close to the rapper/actor/activist. We hear from a high school teacher, music executive, childhood friend, fashion designer, a juror and a pen pal.

With music-related books, I like to play the songs mentioned. This practice made Changes even more enjoyable to read. He was a legend before his time and the lyrics remain relevant today. What a genius and true talent Tupac was. Well done, Sheldon Pearce, in telling his story in an unconventional way!

Happy Belated Pub Day, Sheldon Pearce! Changes is now available.

~LiteraryMarie
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As much as I loved Tupac I was disappointed in this book only because I know all the stories in it! A great read for anyone that loved music and historical reads based on facts. If say it's more like memories collected from colleges and friends. Good for new readers on his life.
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Changes is a fresh perspective on the life and death of Tupac Shakur. Author Sheldon Pearce does a great job getting together accounts of his life from people in his life from early childhood until the day he died and how Tupac’s life has been a big influence on the hip hop world.
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What made this book great also is it's one downfall.  Pearce shares quotes from those who had knew Tupac Shakur in an oral history format.  The fact that the book is a stream of quotes allows us insight into various relationships or interactions that Shakur had with people from various portions of his life (teachers, friends, those who worked with him) and give us a deeper understanding of who Shakur was from many different perspectives. However, the quote based format did at times make the narrative difficult to follow. All in all, the benefits of having those various perspectives outweighed the difficulty there was at times with filling in the gaps or transitioning between speakers.
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I received a digital ARC from Netgalley.

For as much as I love learning new information about Tupac , I really had a hard time following this book for the first 75%.  The stories are all over the place, the interviews are labeled as to who is talking but they do not state how they are involved in the story. 

I did like reading stories I have not heard, as some books can be repetitive. I think a little organization would be great for this story overall.
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I am a diehard Tupac fan. Therefore, almost any book written about him is a must read for me. Unfortunately, I found 
Changes: An Oral History of Tupac Shakur
by Sheldon Pearce minimally satisfying at best.

Although the book is written in chronological order, the contents within each chapter are disjointed and patchy. Each page contains the thoughts of multiple people as they share stories from a particular moment in Pac’s life. While the idea of writing a book with multiple perspectives interchanging on each page may sound good in theory, it failed horribly in execution. This unorthodox writing style made for a very unconnected read. 

Throughout the book I experienced a mixture of boredom and frustration. It felt like a bunch of people got together and wrote random thoughts about their experiences with Tupac. They weren’t even good stories at that! Ok, maybe one or two had the potential to be good. But because they were broken into multiple pieces throughout the book, it was hard to really appreciate that individual’s narrative. 

One of the potentially good stories was by the fashion designer Karl Kani. Kani told how Tupac did a photoshoot for Karl Kani clothing. Tupac did the entire campaign for free because he wanted to support the black business. The only request Tupac had was that “thug life” be featured in the ad (swipe). Pac even paid for all his own clothing, and never accepted anything for free. I thought that story was dope. It also shows how business savvy Tupac was. At such a young he was very aware of branding! Kani said Tupac’s campaign was one of the most iconic shoots his clothing brand had ever done.

Another story I found rather interesting came from Richard Devitt. Devitt was a juror in Tupac’s rape trial. He actually shared some very disturbing information about how they (the jury) came up with a guilty verdict. That story pissed me off! Based on the jury’s findings, there was no way Pac should have been found guilty.

Overall, I would have enjoyed this book much more if each person’s story wasn’t broken into pieces and scattered throughout the book. As much as I would love to give this one 5stars in honor of Tupac, I simply cannot. Therefore, it’s 2stars for me.
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An intimate account of Tupac Shakur’s life and tragic death. Written in the tradition of an oral history, the story is told based on personal accounts of witness and friends who knew him.  While it felt like some voices were missing in this rich retelling, the book is a refreshing reminder of the artist and genius that was Tupac, it will hopefully offer new insights and appreciation for his life and his work to his generation and new generations of people yet to discover his work.
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This book was a fantastic revival of Tupac from those he worked with and had interacted with. I enjoyed the book even though there was not anything in the way of new information. The book read very quickly, had I not been working and running around I could've finished this in one sitting! 

Tupac was and still is a great voice in the world of rap and Black culture. I remember when he died. I remember my mom calling me upstairs from my room as I was getting ready for school when Kurt Loder was reporting it on MTV that morning. I stood in the living room crying. This man was so artistic and grounded that his life meant something to many many people. His art is still appropriate today, which is a sad reminder that not much has changed in our world in 25 years. 

Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!
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Changes is a dope and fresh look at the life and legacy of Tupac Shakur. Sheldon Pearce provides readers with a raw and unique look at the legend that is Tupac.

I am and will always be a fan of Tupac and to say I have seen all the documentaries and interviews about his life and music would be an understatement. And yet this is unlike anything I have read or seen before. I was so intrigued by the accounts from close friends, acquaintances, and celebrities. I felt like these accounts were so personal and intimate and didn't focus too much on his life as a celebrity but rather on the person.

I give Changes 5 stars. I feel like fans will enjoy getting to know Tupac at his youngest and understand who he was and how he became the rap legend that he still is to this day. Sheldon Pearce also wrote this book in a way that is like a conversation piece which is so engaging and just pulled me in.
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Changes offers an oral history of  the late, iconic hip hop artist Tupac Shakur. This book didn’t offer much new information or perspective on Pac. There’s eye opening commentary from the likes of writer Justin Tinsley and scholar Mark Anthony Neal. On the flipside, I questioned why certain people were contributors to this book when there are far more insightful and interesting people who actually knew Tupac and his family well enough to speak to his legacy in a more meaningful way. At times, this book felt like a “this is who was available” list of people to talk about Pac. (I honestly skipped most of the Greg Kading parts because i don’t trust his information). This book is just decent at best because with the treasure trove of information about Tupac that exists, this book doesn't really add anything to the conversation or uncover or discover anything about the multifaceted human being that Tupac was.
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I absolutely loved this book. Had no idea how good it would be going in, kept my expectations low, but it exceeded them and more. Would definitely recommend to anyone.
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What a fabulous book. Enjoyed the structure. It had me reading endlessly. Read very fast. Loved it. Highly recommend.
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This was a great read I loved the personal accounts of Tupac's life from friends. I found out things I did not know and it made me love him even more.
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This was a great read I loved the personal accounts of Tupac's life from friends. I found out things I did not know and it made me love him even more.
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“If we'll go see a movie about Mongolian nomads, why don't we ever go see a movie about rap music?”

So said the Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) a few years ago, back when the hashtag #oscarssowhite was in the news. The bit about Mongolian nomads is not hyperbole – we had seen an actual movie from Mongolia about nomads only a year or two before. That's how I ended up seeing “Straight Outta Compton”.

I wish I could say that I came away from “Straight Outta Compton” with a profound understanding of the problems of African-Americans, or something like that, but I didn't. However, through a very unlikely set of circumstances, less than a month after I saw the movie, I met the actor who played Eazy-E. When I told him that I (a jowly middle-aged white guy in a suit) had seen “Straight Outta Compton”, his astonishment was comical in the extreme. He then very charmingly shot the breeze for quite some time with self and LSW before attempting to teach me how to shake hands, etc., in the manner of certain African-Americans that I have seen on stage and screen. I failed the class miserably.

“This is not the way of my people,” I explained, as he laughed.

I approached this book with all of the above in mind, thinking, well, while it's unlikely that I will gain any profound insights from this, you never know when and how attempting to expand your experience will pay unexpected dividends.

Now, I have had personal trainer who is African-American. I started with him at the gym in person, and I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. When the pandemic hit, I made a special effort to arrange remote classes. He is excellent at his job, but our experience does not overlap much, so sometimes small talk is awkward. Occasionally, without warning, he will insert into our exercise rest-break banter a bit of trivia from the life of Tupac Shakur, like, “Did you know Tupac dated Madonna?” (I didn't). I am usually at a loss for a response – a situation he enjoys. He's yanking my chain a little, but it's all in good fun.

One day recently, while cruising the latest free book offerings from Netgalley, I noticed this book. I thought: I did not hesitate read a book about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire or the beheading of Marie Antoinette to partially remedy my ignorance. Why not read about Tupac Shakur for the same reason?

Also, I anticipated a satisfyingly shocked reaction from my personal trainer when I told him about what I was reading. I was not disappointed.

All of the above is to say: I'm a 60-year-old Caucasian with little to no previous experience with the subject matter. I listened to most of Tupac's songs on YouTube while reading this book, and recognized none of them. I did not know the song “Changes”, but, when I listened to it, I recognized it as one I heard often during the troubles which followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020. In short, I don't think that I am what the writer was picturing if he tried to imagine the typical reader of this book. But still, I enjoyed it.

If you are as un-Tupac-saavy as I am, it might help you to read his Wikipedia entry before starting. Of course, the Tupac that emerges from the book is a more complex character than that of the Wikipedia entry. In the last year of his life, he seems to have gone pretty deep into behavior resembling the gangsta thug stereotype, but before that he was a smart, even sweet, young man. He went to a performing arts high school in Baltimore, danced ballet, and performed Shakespeare. His high school English teacher remembers him fondly. He showed up early for recording sessions at studios, in stark contrast to most musicians. He was a fan of the soundtrack album of “The Lion King”, singing along with enthusiasm. He was polite to music industry lawyers, even when he didn't have to be.

In this book, there are a lot of the references to albums, artists, movies, directors, and other apparently important figures that meant nothing to me, but I was able to follow the story well enough without stopping to search the internet for everything I didn't understand.

The book is an oral history, meaning, most of it is interviews with people who knew Tupac or intersected with his life, often in unexpected ways. I thought that many of the most memorable and interesting interviews were with the random people whom fate threw into Tupac's path, for example, the NY emergency room hospital doctor who treated him when he was shot in 1994, one of the jurors from his 1993 trial for sexual assault, the Las Vegas journalist who was first on the scene when he was fatally shot in 1996.

As a bookish and introverted guy, I mostly understand the word by reading about it, and I was happy to have this opportunity to take a look into a part of the world that in some ways is lying in plain sight but in other ways is completely hidden. As with my earlier experience at the movies, I don't feel that I have any special insight now, but I hope that reading this book will somehow provide a little puzzle piece that will help widen my perspective, improve my understanding, and increase my empathy. Failing that, at least I can hope to pleasantly surprise somebody.

I received a free electronic galley copy of this book from Simon & Schuster via Netgalley. Thanks to all.
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Thank  you NetGalley for the digital eARC. I was in the middle of reading this book when DMX passed away and I could not stop thinking about how little we know what goes on in these celebrities personal lives. From the outside it looks so great. Money, cars, jewelry ...but this book about Tupac goes deeper. It is a collection of interviews from people who knew him "when"... and it paints a portrait of a gentle genius. I wish everyone knew this side of him.
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