“When my heart beats, it screams Thug Life”
What do you think when you hear the word thug? A violent person maybe, or a criminal or a gangster? Well, Tupac Shakur came up with his own definition of Thug and sparked a whole movement from this vision.
Tupac was always for the underdog, the oppressed and the disadvantaged youth. In 1992, America was making out that most of the crime being committed was by the black community and calling them thugs and criminals.
In light of this and sick of his people getting blamed, Tupac came up with an an acronym for the word thug- “The Hate U Gave Little Infants Fucks Everyone“. It was not just a catchphrase to Tupac, it was a movement and a way of life. In the same year, Tupac formed a group called Thug Life, consisting of himself, Randy ‘Stretch’ Walker, Big Syke, Mopreme, Macadoshis and Rated R. They released one album together, Thug Life: Volume 1. He also got the words ‘Thug Life’ tattooed across his stomach, with the ‘I’ being replaced by a bullet.
Celebrating gangsters and street soldiers, getting paid and living large, combined with loving your community and having respect, Tupac came up with the ‘Code of Thug Life’. Tupac grew up around revolutionaries and gangsters who would give up their lives fighting for what they believed in. He used this as inspiration to draw up a code of ethics for gangbangers, promoting unity and peace. He visited his stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, in prison for guidance and direction with the Thug Life code. He put in place 26 rules and ethics for a more peaceful community
The Code of Thug Life
1 All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.
2 Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.
3 One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.
4 Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!
5 Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.
6 Slinging to children is against the Code.
7 Having children slinging is against the Code.
8 No slinging in schools.
9 Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.
10 Snitches is outta here.
11 The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the hood, and make it safe for squares.
12 No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!
13 Know your target, who’s the real enemy.
14 Civilians are not a target and should be spared.
15 Harm to children will not be forgiven.
16 Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.
17 Senseless brutality and rape must stop.
18 Our old folks must not be abused.
19 Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.
20 Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.
21 Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.
22 No shooting at parties.
23 Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!
24 Know the Code; it’s for everyone.
25 Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.
26 Protect yourself at all times.
Using this code, Tupac was able to get members of the Crips and Bloods to agree to it in California and was used in the 1992 gang truce. On the other side of the country, in Brooklyn, a meeting of big time gangsters and thugs firmly agreed to adhere to the code. “I got people in the penitentiary, big‑time OG criminals, calling me, telling me they want me to lead their movement,” Tupac explained.
By looking at the code he came up with, you can tell he was always thinking and strategizing, coming up with plans to help better himself and his people. At the young age of 22, Tupac had the vision of having the OG’s who were living the street life and getting money, sponsor sports teams, getting the churches selling food, putting not only money but community spirit back into the ghetto. He had a vision of putting a community center in every ghetto in the country, a center which included pool tables and a library, so the people living in the community could have knowledge, just like a kid can in Beverly Hills.
“When I say thug I mean not a criminal, someone who beats you over the head , I mean the underdog. You could have two people – one person has everything he needs to succeed and one person has nothing. If the person has nothing succeeds, he’s a thug. Because he overcame all the obstacles. Don’t ask me why, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the dictionary’s version of thug. Sorry. I have a whole energy that represents not just black youth but white youth, Mexican youth…Youth” – Tupac Shakur
Tupac’s thought process was way ahead of his time, given that he was only 22 at this time. There are many stories of Tupac thinking differently to others. Take Molly Monjauze, a friend and assistant of Pac’s. Molly helped put together the book ‘Tupac Remembered’ with Tupac’s aunt Gloria Cox. In the book she tells a short story of how her and Tupac saw a story on TV about a teenage girl who had been gang-raped and left in abandoned house and set on fire by a group of teenage boys.
Molly, horrified with what she had just heard, says “What kind of animals would do such a thing?” Tupac then looked at her with tears in his eyes and said “Imagine what kind of animal hurt a child so badly, it caused them to do something like that” Tupac saw past what the rest of the world were so quick to pass judgement.