2Pac's 'Keep Ya Head Up' trending on TikTok following US Supreme Court overturning abortion rights

Headlines 29/06/2022

2Pac is often referred to as the voice of his generation, but such is his genius that he is also able to transcend his own time and become the voice for future generations too.

And that has become evidently clear after his feminist anthem 'Keep Ya Head Up' began trending on TikTik shortly after the US Supreme overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The decision has caused mass outrage as it removes the federal constitutional right to an abortion, overturning the nearly 50 year-old piece of legislation. 

The song's stance on pro-choice politics and 'rape culture' remain as relevant today as they were back in 1993, featuring lines such as:

"I wonder why we take from our women, why we rape our women, do we hate our women?" and "And since a man can't make one, he has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one".

Admittedly the song itself was originally penned with specific reference to black women, as Pac explained in a 1995 interview with LA Times journalist Chuck Phillips:

"I think the sh*t that I say, no one else says. Who was writing about Black women before ‘Keep Ya Head Up?’ Now everybody got a song about Black women. Who was writing about that when I was writing about that?"

The song's music video opens with a tribute to Latasha Harlins, a 15 year-old girl who was tragically shot by a LA shop owner in 1991, and then goes on to detail our society's shortcomings around it's attitudes towards black women.

It's important to recognise the true origins and intent behind the song, art can often be very contextual so we felt it very necessary to write about the original meaning of the song before we discuss how it's been adopted by any other groups. 

That's not to dissuade anyone from finding their own meanings and empowerment from Pac's work, or anyone else's work for that matter, it's more just to establish the context within which Pac was creating his art and tautoko his intended subject matter.

It initially became an anthem for the black feminist movement, but it has now been adopted by several TikTok creators who oppose the Supreme Courts ruling on abortion rights.

Despite the song's origins, women from all walks of life can relate to many of the issues detailed in Pac's lyrics, especially in times like these where women's rights are being trampled on by backwards legislation.

The song rose to the top of TikTok's trending songs chart in Aotearoa, (but has since fallen to 2nd at the time of writing) showing that Pac's message and art still remains as poignant and provocative as ever.

Music has to power to unite people, and it has the power to bring about change. Few artists have had the societal impact and influence that Pac had, and his relevancy has proven to be as strong now as it was when he was alive.