Fifteen years after his untimely death, many are still talking about Tupac Amaru Shakur. Today, June 16, would have been his 40th birthday had he survived the wounds he suffered that ill-fated Las Vegas night.

It’s hard to imagine a 40-year-old Pac.

The bravado, the swagger, the self-reflective, sometimes contradictory rhymes seemed born of a man who knew his days were numbered. The intensity with which Pac spit, lived life, and loved (and hated) poured from his gut with each and every lyric he’d ever written.

To this day, the legend of Tupac continues to grow. Many still cling to the idea that he is alive (in Cuba of course)—Newport in one hand, Heineken in the other—haunting a studio, and still putting out mixtapes.

His fans—excuse me, fanatics—treat Pac as a modern-day prophet. And in many ways he was. Opening our eyes to the perils of teen pregnancy, the plight of political prisoners, and the dangerous realities of the streets.

As hip-hop grew, so did Pac’s influence on a generation. Years after his death, many youngsters (who weren’t even born in ’96) are fans of Pac, finding solace in his words as if they were alive to witness him first hand.

Like Miles Davis, Coltrane, Run DMC, Tribe Called Quest, Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday, and so many others before him, people will continue to celebrate, study, and revel in the experience that was Tupac Amaru Shakur for generations to come.

Check out one of my favorite Tupac joints. What’s your favorite Tupac song?

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