“I Think of Him as an Ancestor”: Tupac Shakur Fans and the Intimacy of Pop Cultural Heritage

We consider the ways intimacy with pop cultural icons works as a type of heritage. Based on interviews with Tupac Shakur fans about his recent biopic and their histories with the rapper’s music, we demonstrate the emotional investments fans have in the artist’s image and their individual and communal connections to his memory. The 2017 biopic All Eyez on Me (AEoM) sparked public discussion of Shakur’s legacy and prompted his fans to reflect on the importance of his work in their identity development. Specifically, they connected with him through deeply felt moments of commonality and family experience. Revisiting their connection to Shakur through the biopic functioned as intimate heritage, as fans used a variety of mediated forms to reflect on their lives through the symbolic record of Shakur’s life. Therefore, the movie’s content was secondary to the ways a mediated discussion of the artist facilitated fans’ self-reflection.

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