The Music Is Tupac, The Story Is Now: ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ Musical Review

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140108-tupac-musical-holler-broadwayAs a loyal Tupac Shakur fan, I was overly excited when I heard the news that “Holler If Ya Hear Me”–a hip hop musical inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of the late rapper– was coming to Broadway.

An obvious change from traditional Broadway musicals which typically consist of revamped movies and classic screenplays, “Holler If Ya Hear Me” is the story of the trials and tribulations of a young Black man (Saul Williams) living in the inner city who was recently released from prison and is now in search of peace within himself. Although the story line isn’t a direct representation of Tupac’s life, it portrays similar racial and social injustices that he rapped about frequently during his career.

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#TeamBeautiful  got a chance to catch a preview performance of the production and I must say, I was utterly impressed and became more of a fan than ever before. The director, Kenny Leon (who is also credited with directing the latest adaptation of Broadway’s “A Raisin in the Sun” with Denzel Washington), and writer, Todd Kreidler, both did an amazing job of taking the lyrics from songs like “Hail  Mary,” “Dear Mama” and the title track, “Holler If Ya Hear Me” and bringing them to life throughout the story.

Hearing Tupac’s words used as the script for the unjust, yet all too familiar urban scenarios portrayed in the musical gave me a much deeper understanding of the messages the late rapper delivered and allowed me to appreciate the poetry in his lyricism.

I will admit, I was hoping the musical would focus more on Tupac’s life, his career and the moments leading up to his untimely death, but I was impressed how Leon, Kreidler and Tupac’s mother, Afeni (who serves as the musical’s producer), were able to take the timeless lyrics and accurately relate them to the present day. “It’s a story about unconditional love that uplifts all of his [Tupac’s] words,” Kenny Leon told the New York Times.

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If you’re looking for a biography of Pac’s life, then you’ll have to wait until an official biopic is released because this musical just isn’t that. It does, however, serve it’s purpose of being a story about friendship, revenge, change,  family and hope and brings awareness to the reality of violence and gangs in the inner city — topics that Tupac was most passionate about.  See a preview of the play in the video below and click here for even more sneak peeks of the show.

 

“Holler If Ya Hear Me” opens on June 19 in New York City at Broadway’s Palace Theatre.  Will you check it out?

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