This isn’t Pac’s life story, instead, it’s a story inspired by Tupac’s lyrics, featuring Saul Williams as John, a guy fresh out of prison and trying to get his life together. John gets a job and tries to maintain a very simple life, but when a young kid with a bright future dies, he is tempted to jump back to the gangster life he’s left behind. Holler If Ya Hear Me is a story about the peace Tupac struggled to find in his music.
Pac’s often contradictory lyrics play out before our eyes in a similar way that his music had an effect on all of our lives. From the white mechanic taking over daddy’s business, to the street thug sliding money to his mother with hopes of changing his life around, nothing captures this moment more clearly than when the guys of the play rap “I Get Around,” while the women sing a Broadway-inspired version of “Keep Ya Head Up.”
The musical uses Pac’s classic songs and others the casual Tupac fan might not know or remember, but either way, it’s truly eye-opening to see how his art was transformed to fit into the Broadway sphere.
Holler If Ya Hear Me is directed by Tony Award-winning Kenny Leon, who also helmed Raisin In The Sun and The Mountaintop. Leon told EW that Pac’s music is, “about access to the American dream, and equal lives having equal value in America. It’s still holding a mirror up to us so we can see ourselves. That’s what Holler If Ya Hear Me really does on its good days.”
That comment leads me to my only gripe about this play. While I wish they used more of Pac’s hits, the songs featured still do justice to Pac’s brilliance. Holler If Ya Hear Me opened June 19th.
PHOTO CREDIT: WENN