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A new docuseries explores Tupac Shakur's relationship with his mother

DEAR MAMA “Changes” Episode 2. Pictured: Tupac Shakur. Credit: FX
DEAR MAMA “Changes” Episode 2. Pictured: Tupac Shakur. Credit: FX

Tupac Shakur’s story is well-known. He’s sold more than 75 million records to date, landed 11 platinum albums, and has a devoted fan base that continues to grow long after his murder in 1996.

The influence his mother, Afeni Shakur, had on his music, philosophy, and social activism is less known. The new five-part docuseries from FX Network called “Dear Mama” examines the close bond between the Shakurs and how they shaped each other’s lives.

Afeni Shakur was an influential member of the Black Panther party and exposed her son to a range of people with diverse identities and lived experiences at a very young age. Filmmaker Allen Hughes interviewed Afeni’s sister Gloria “Glo” Jean for the series.

DEAR MAMA “So Many Tears” Episode 3 (Airs Friday, April 28). Pictured: (seated, center) Afeni Shakur. Credit: FX

“She brought an array of characters that I never thought existed. [Black] Panthers, hustlers, gay women, gay men. If she opened up my world,  imagine her son around this array of characters and what that was for him. In the beginning, it’s beautiful,” she explained to Hughes.

The series explores Tupac’s poetic lyricism and desire to tackle complicated topics through hip-hop. “Brenda’s Got a Baby”is about the true story of a 12-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated by her cousin. The song “Dear Mama,” for which the series was named, unpacks the artist’s deep admiration for and complicated relationship with his mother.

New episodes of “Dear Mama” come out on Friday nights on FX and are available for streaming on Hulu.

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Chris Remington