2Pac and his mother Afeni Shakur have become the subjects of a new docuseries that promises never before shared content as it looks at their unique relationship.
The new FX series Dear Mama is set to premiere on April 21, with the first two of five episodes released concurrently. The remaining three parts will then be delivered weekly on the following three Fridays. The show will also stream on Hulu one day after its network broadcast.
According to Deadline, executive producer Allen Hughes — who directed the Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine docuseries The Defiant Ones — shared details about the latest project examining 2Pac’s life during a presentation on Thursday (January 12) at the Television Critics Awards winter press tour.
During his chat with the media, Hughes explained that he and his team prioritized finding and using previously unreleased audio and video content of Afeni Shakur and her son.
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“Wherever possible, we tried to find archival footage that hadn’t been seen so there’s a lot that we have in the five parts,” he explained. “There’s also audio that’s never been heard. And not just some of his acapellas and vocals, there is a lot of stuff of 2Pac from his baby years that had never been seen.
“For 2Pac superfans, I believe that two of the most important things in the project is the never seen before [footage],” Allen Hughes continued. “But most importantly, you get to understand why he made certain decisions.”
The new docuseries borrows its name from ‘Pac’s 1995 hit single, which heard the late star detail the at-times tumultuous relationship he and his mother shared, highlighting the parts of his childhood that were marked by financial hardship and his mother’s addiction.
A year before the poignant multi-platinum single was released, the rapper explained why he was grateful for those early experiences during an interview with BET.
“My mother’s my partner. She a soldier like I’m a soldier,” he said after discussing how the absence of his father impacted them both. “And I watched her, I peeped the game that she went through. I woulda went the same way my mother went, had not she did her route and showed me where it went wrong with her.”
In 2010, “Dear Mama” was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, becoming only the third Hip Hop song to be preserved by the organization, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I’m incredibly touched,” Afeni Shakur said in a statement at the time. “It could have been any song, but I’m honored they chose ‘Dear Mama’ in particular. It is a song that spoke not just to me, but every mother that has been in that situation, and there have been millions of us. 2Pac recognized our struggle, and he is still our hero.”
In addition to being 2Pac’s mother and keeping his legacy alive in a number of ways after his death in 1996, Shakur left behind her own impactful story as a political activist.
After joining the Black Panther Party in 1968, Afeni Shakur went on to become a section leader of the party’s Harlem chapter, a position which she held until her arrest in 1969. She and 20 other members of the political organization, who collectively became known as the Panther 21, were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to bomb police stations and other sites across New York City.
She spent two years at the New York Women’s House of Detention, until the case against the Panther 21 was eventually dismissed in 1971. According to Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson, Afeni Shakur’s cross-examination of detective Ralph White — who had infiltrated the Harlem chapter — effectively destroyed the prosecution’s case.
The “Dear Mama” video opens with Afeni Shakur recounting her experience being incarcerated while pregnant with 2Pac, and her release a month and three days before his birth.
Following her release, Shakur also used many of the organizing and activism tactics she had learned from the Panthers to support the cause of the Gay Liberation Front.
Many years later, after her son’s tragic death, Afeni Shakur established the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She ran the nonprofit and managed her son’s estate until her death in 2016.