Changes: An Oral History of Tupac Shakur

Jun 29, 2021

By Frank Valish

With Changes, writer Sheldon Pearce attempts to document the life of Tupac Shakur through a new and somewhat different lens. He talks to many people involved in Shakur’s life but often to a peripheral degree, and he allows for the new insights of these lesser-known players craft a new vision of the artist, his talents, his motivations, and his life.

In a large manner, Pearce is successful. Those he interviewed include Shakur’s high school drama teacher, a childhood friend who also had a parent active in the Black Panthers, one of the jurors for his sexual abuse trial of 1994, and the trauma department chief at the Las Vegas hospital where Shakur was treated after he was fatally shot in 1996.

Some of the interview subjects provide fresh insight, such as those listed above. The part of the book detailing Shakur’s trial is pithy and fleshed out well. Other interview subjects, however, seem to be so secondary as to lend question to how necessary their perceptions and impressions of Shakur are to his story.

Changes is not meant to be comprehensive; Pearce acknowledges the same in his Author’s Note at the end of the text proper. However, reading through this relatively brief oral history (it caps at 269 pages, and the margins are large), one finds oneself wishing for more. The book is engaging, moves at a good pace, and certainly sheds light on Shakur’s life and legacy. One just wishes it was a bit more of a definitive document.


Author rating: 6.5/10

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