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As a joke, someone gave me a Tupac CD for Christmas, and while driving yesterday, I decided to give it a listen. The guy obviously had talent, but when I was listening to his music I just couldn’t shake the feeling I was listening to an actor read a script. After all, this is the same guy who played the Mouse King in The Nutcracker and later reinvented himself as a gangsta rapper. The only really gangsta thing he ever did was get murdered.

In order to cleanse my brain, I put in a LeadBelly CD, and there’s no doubting that guy’s authenticity. He may have been a master of the 12-string guitar, but he was also a frightening dude. His first brush with murder came when he shot someone as a teenager, but his dad was able to cover it up. He wasn’t so lucky a few years later when he killed a relative in a fight over a woman. Did I mention he was also on the run at the time for escaping prison?

He was pardoned after seven years after singing a song to the governor, but he didn’t stay out of trouble long. He knifed a guy in a fight, and he was back to the pokey. While in prison an inmate stabbed him in the neck, but he took the knife away and almost killed the guy with it. If you see him wearing a bandana in later pictures it was because he was covering up the gaping scar.

Amazingly, he was released again after singing another song to yet another governor, and he left the south for New York. I’m pretty sure you now know how this story’s going to go. He promptly stabbed a guy in Manhattan and went to jail.

In addition to having a great tenor voice, and undeniable skill playing half-a-dozen instruments, you have to agree. That was a bad, bad man.

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