Jhene Aiko Pays Tribute to Tupac Shakur With Three Iconic Photos. Singer Jhene Aiko payed homage to legendary rapper Tupac Shakur on his would be 44th birthday in a very special photoshoot. Shot by Danny Williams Jhene recreated three iconic Tupac photos to celebrate the life and legacy of the famous rapper. Get the full scoop after the drop.
MTV: You recreated three iconic Tupac photos, that we’ve debuted here today. When did you get the inspiration to recreate these?
Jhené Aiko: I would say like a few years ago. It’s been a few years, but every birthday of his I always want to do something. I feel like I have to give his legacy some type of present. It started off, one time I did a video shoot where they spread his ashes. And it was a coincidence that I was there that day, we were all like, “Wait a minute, this is Tupac’s birthday and we’re here on the same beach.” So after that, it’s been several years since then and every year I want to do something. I wrote a letter one year, I put it on my tumblr. It’s a special day because to me he was such a special person, so this year it was just an idea that me and my team had and I’m passionate about Tupac so it was something and I was like, “Yeah.” It was just random, it just happened on the spot; it was a really good idea for his birthday.
MTV: June 16 would’ve been ’Pac’s 44th birthday and he was 25 when he passed away. At what age did you become aware of Tupac? What was your earliest memory of him?
Aiko: My earliest memory of Tupac — I’m from L.A., born and raised, so I think the station at the time was 92.3 the Beat. They obviously played all the West Coast hip-hop and R&B. I’m super young, I was born in ’88, so when ’Pac was at his prime, I was still a toddler, I was a baby. I guess I have early memories of hearing him on the radio and seeing his CDs laying around because I have older brothers and sisters. But I didn’t form a personal love for him until I was a teenager and I saw “Resurrection” and living in L.A. they play Tupac still like he’s a new artist on certain stations. So I grew up listening to him and loving the music. I always liked the way he looked, I always had a crush on him — that started in elementary school. When I saw “Resurrection,” I was so inspired. I was young at the time and obviously the people that were older, that got to witness Tupac in his prime, they were already — I was late. I was a kid just discovering something at the right time when I could fully understand what he was all about.
MTV: How did things change for you after seeing “Resurrection?”
Aiko: I remember getting home from watching that and just feeling so inspired and I wrote this long journal entry about how inspired I was and motivated. I was so in awe of his story that I just dove in. I got books and I tried to find everything about Tupac. I started watching all the interviews, I started becoming obsessed and it wasn’t about the music at that point. It was about him as a person and what he did as far as aside from music.
In addition to the photos, Jhené shared a video of her covering her favorite Tupac song, “Keep Ya Head Up,” and she sat down with MTV News to talk about the influence that Shakur has had on her life, her soul and her music.