What can late, great rapper Tupac Shakur do for community newspapers in 2017?
Inspire the readership. Or so hopes the 115-year-old Warroad Pioneer, which ran a choice 2Pac quote on its front page Tuesday.
"I'm a reflection of the community," Pac states beneath the weekly paper's nameplate. From there, inch your eyes downward, and you'll find the Pioneer's clarion call to support community journalism: "Without YOU, There is NO Newspaper!" And that's it. That's the entire front page. See for yourself:
The tiny Minnesota town of Warroad, population 1,799, sits just below the Canadian border, closer to Winnipeg (126 miles) than Minneapolis (355 miles). The Pioneer intended for Tuesday's edition to remind residents that local news still matters, even as market forces torpedo the industry, Pioneer publisher Rebecca Colden tells the Grand Forks Herald.
"We have readers that are just passionate about getting their paper every week," she says. "We're a united force in small towns -- let us be your cheerleader."
Admirable! But ... why 2Pac? The Pioneer runs a quote reflecting the community or the staff each week, Colden tells City Pages. She says editor Koren Zaiser tabbed one from the celebrated rap god, who was murdered in 1996.
"[Zaiser] felt, not unlike us, Tupac was passionate about his contributions, his life, and his community (immediate or otherwise)," Colden explains via email. "While he may have made some poor choices -- as we all have -- she believes he lived his life the only way he knew how and by doing so, he was trying to educate others in what he believed in and what he experienced."
Shakur served a brief prison sentence for sexual abuse crimes committed in 1993, so yeah, very poor choices. At the same time, he was a deep-thinking, multifaceted street philosopher, and that was reflected in his art.
"This quote, to [Zaiser], represented the good, the bad, and the ugly in the American way of life," Colden continues. "You are -- whether we are talking about a person or an entity -- a direct reflection of your community. And what better way to convey that message than to quote one of the most controversial and passionate personalities of our time?"
It's unclear how many of the Pioneer's 1,200 subscribers are versed in classic hip-hop, but no matter; Tuesday's cover is badass.
The Pac quote about community has become something of an out-of-context inspirational meme, so we listened to the original audio interview for some context. Here's 2Pac talking to DJ Sway -- who you can see hosting Soundset this May -- back in 1996 on L.A.'s 106 KMEL-FM. Sway had just asked Pac about his ongoing legal setbacks.
"It hurts me because [fans] be looking at me like, ‘Damn, you got everything, why you doing this?' And in my heart I be like, ‘Damn man, ya’ll know I don’t wanna go to jail' – I’m just trying to live, ya know what I mean? On the other hand, I can’t really take it personal because I’m a reflection of the community. All young black men are going through that. Young black females, young white males. A lot of minorities, period, is going through that, trying to come up and then getting pulled back five steps, you move eight steps, and they pull you back 18 steps … to me, it’s not personal because they all going through it. Only thing that makes it different and original with me is that people get to watch it beginning to end like a soap opera.”
Semi-related: We'd like to introduce the new corporate tagline for all City Pages content: