The poem Tupac Shakur wrote for Charyl ‘Salt’ James
(Credit: Alamy)


The poem Tupac Shakur wrote for Charyl 'Salt' James

Tupac Shakur was one of the most well-known rappers in the world and, during the 1990s, was the go-to artist if you wanted hardcore and passionate gangsta rap. As the primary artist of Dr Dre and Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, Tupac undeniably made massive hits and, before his murder in 1996, was one of the most famous rappers in the world.

Pac, as well as being a talented rapper, was also highly controversial and was, for all intents and purposes, the perpetrator of the east coast vs west coast feud. The bloodshed and horror of the 1990s was primarily down to Shakur and Suge Knight. The rapper, as the son of Afeni Shakur, a political activist and member of the Black Panther Party, naturally had an anti-establishment mindset and, as such, was quite a brash character and highly troublesome character. But still popular.

When we’re looking back at hip hop in the 1990s, we’re looking (for the most part) at two feuding record labels, Death Row Records on the West Coast and Badboy Entertainment on the East Coast. Both companies had their own stars, with Pac signed to Death Row, and Biggie Smalls signed to Bad Boy. Respectively, these two artists, with their affiliates i.e. Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Lil Kim and Diddy, were ruling the rap charts and selling unfathomable amounts of records with their feud actually fuelling sales. 

Tupac knew of his popularity and power, which is why he described his music as “America’s Most Wanted” and, in a 1996 interview with MTV, inferred that Bad Boy “sell a couple of records, we [Death Row] sell large amounts of records.” The rapper was aware of how many units he was actually moving. 

During the ’90s, Tupac had various public romances. Shakur’s most well-known was with Jada Pinkett-Smith, with whom he went to the Baltimore School for the Arts. Both looking to enter the acting profession, Shakur was a part-time drug dealer when the two of them met, but unlike Shakur, she graduated from the school while the rapper got sent to California by his mother.

However, one lesser-known romance Shakur had was with Charyl ‘Salt’ James of hip hop duo Salt-N-Pepa. Shakur appeared in the duo’s racy video for their song, ‘Whatta Man’. Speaking to online magazine Rock The Bells, James revealed that in 1995 “When he went to jail — me being a Christian — I wrote him letters about my faith to encourage him and also to let him know what kept me going in hard times.”

Shakur wrote back. However, in addition to the letters, Salt received a poem titled ‘4 What it’z Worth.’ The poem reads:

“Am not much 4 pretty words and such / Cuz these days my pain is deep / But there is always pleasure 2 be found / In times of struggle and grief / If a tree can grow through New York concrete / Then a thugg can change his heart / If I can survive 5 deadly shotz / We can discover light within the dark / I’m sure u have had times of misery / All of us experience hurt / But only the strong in spirit survive this wicked world / 4 All It’z Worth”

You can see an unseen picture of the poem below.

Tupac poem – ‘4 All It’z Worth’ (Credit: Rock the Bells)