On what would have been Tupac‘s 44th birthday, songstress Jhene Aiko pays tribute to the rapper by recreating some of his most iconic photos. Drawing inspiration from shots from All Eyez On Me and David LaChapelle’s “Becoming Clean” shoot, Aiko channeled the late rapper in three photos for MTV.
Jhene also shared the story of how “Keep Ya Head Up”-a song that she often performs live-became her favorite Tupac song:
I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter and that song came on. I just cried like never before. His words meant so much to me. I just felt like I needed to hear that. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I wasn’t in the best position to have a child. I was growing hopeless. At that moment I was leaving a free-clinic-type-of-family-planning-type of place to do my prenatal stuff. I was on the county, I had my E.B.T. card, I had my food stamps. I was in the system and I felt like, “Where was my life going at this point?” It was hard for me to be optimistic. But that song came on and that’s what changed the whole mood of my pregnancy.
From that day when I heard that song, I was like, “You know what? He’s right. I need to just keep my head up and keep it pushing and do what I have to do.” From then on everything turned into a positive experience. It really stuck at that moment, because that was 2007 and the song had been out for years and years and years. Not until I had that full-circle moment of understanding struggle and pain did I relate to the song that much more.
Check out the rest of the photos below.