On Tuesday (June 6), The Art of Dialogue released the latest segment of their full-length interview with Billy Garland, Tupac Shakur‘s estranged biological father. During the sit-down, Garland was asked directly to address how he felt about being called a “coward” on ‘Pac’s maternal ode.
“At first, I was upset ’cause I’m trying to see you and, you know…but then it hit me,” Garland said. “For one, I ain’t dead, so you really didn’t know me. Because if you would have known me, you would know that I wasn’t dead. So I knew there that someone had lied to him from that point.”
“Later on, when I found out that somebody did lie to him, that song made perfectly good sense,” Garland added. “I understand it totally. When I hear it now, I laugh. I still love that f**king record though. I love it. I do. I listen to his music daily. Every freakin’ day. And I like it. Then it hits me, he’s my son. It’s a twin thing.”
Tupac released the single “Dear Mama” in February of 1995 as the lead single from his Me Against the World album. The song featured the disparaging lyrics about his father, “No love for my daddy because the coward wasn’t there/He passed away and I didn’t cry, ’cause my anger wouldn’t let me feel for a stranger/They say I’m wrong and I’m heartless, but all along I was looking for my father, he was gone.”
Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, an activist and Black Panther, had the rapper one month after being released from jail following being acquitted on conspiracy charges. In 1975, she married Mutulu Shakur, whom ‘Pac would fondly refer to as his father. Garland claims he was not able to locate Tupac from the ages of 3 to 18 and they were never able to fully establish a relationship before his death at the age of 25 in September of 1996. Afeni died in May of 2016 at the age of 69 after suffering a cardiac arrest at her Sausalito, Calif. home.
“Dear Mama” is considerer one of Tupac’s greatest songs. In 2010, “Dear Mama” was inducted into the Library of Congress Registry. In 2021, the song was certified three-times platinum by the RIAA. Back in April, FX chronicled Tupac and Afeni’s bond in the new five-part docuseries Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni & Tupac Shakur.
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Author: C. Vernon Coleman II