Almost 18 years after his demise, Tupac Shakur remains among the most influential artists in recent history. The Broadway play “Holler If Ya Hear Me” is a testament to this reality.
Among the cast are poet and actor Saul Williams, Tonya Pinkins, Ben Thompson and many others. “Holler” tells the story of a young man struggling to get his life back together. In this context, Tupac’s music is the backdrop to this struggle, and the issues that face the neighborhood he lives in. Directed by Kenny Leon, Holler has the stage actors recite and sing the songs we all know and love from Pac’s catalog. Some of the songs recited were “I Get Around”, “Dear Mama” “Changes” “Hail Mary” and “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”
As a hip hop head, it was really interesting to see this representation of the art form on such a traditional outlet. I could see that the actors were getting into it, reciting Pac lyrics with feeling. I also caught myself singing along to some of these songs. I feel as though to truly appreciate the play, you have to be familiar with most of Tupac’s hits. Otherwise, the context and the set up of it will be slightly lost.
The story of the travails of urban life are expressed through the music of a man who was gunned down at the age of 25. Holler is a spirited recitation of the work of Tupac, and yet another example of the influence of hip hop on American culture.