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Friday, January 10, 2014

Tupac’s Songs Coming to Broadway

Written by Kyle Slagley

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that most serious fans of today’s rap and hip-hop music can rattle off a few details about the life, career, and murder of the late Tupac Shakur. It’s also probably safe to say that most of today’s rap and hip-hop artists will acknowledge Tupac’s influence over the entire genre in a very short amount of time.

Tupac’s fame was short-lived, but his influence enormous. He began to gain notoriety around 1991 while performing with the group Digital Underground.  That same year, he released his first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now. In the next five years, he would produce four more solo albums and act in seven films. On September 7, 1996, at the age of 25, Tupac was shot in Las Vegas by rival gang members on his way from the MGM Grand to Club 662 (now known as the restaurant/club Seven). He died on September 13.

Six additional solo albums and three of his seven films were released after Tupac died. The big news earlier this week was that the Broadway musical made from his music has announced it will premiere sometime later this year. The show, titled Holler if Ya Hear Me, is reportedly set in the present day in a fictional Midwestern industrial city and tells the story of two childhood friends as they grow up on the inner-city streets.

Holler if Ya Hear Me is not the first full-length Broadway production to be made from the music of a single artist.  In recent years the show Jersey Boys, featuring the music of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, has seen huge success. A few years ago, Mamma Mia, featuring the music of ABBA, was extremely popular, and Movin’ Out was drawn from the songs of Billy Joel. Today, the most popular show made from repurposed pop songs is probably Rock of Ages featuring some of the top songs from ‘80s rock bands.

According to, Holler if Ya Hear Me will run at the Palace Theatre and officially open on June 19 after three weeks of preview performances. It replaces the 2012 revival of Annie.

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