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The tragic story behind Tupac Shakur's 'Brenda's Got A Baby'

Aside from his intense charisma and charming personality, something he used to devastating effect, Tupac Shakur was capable of some of the most incredible verses the rap world has ever seen. While much of his output has come out after his shocking death in the mid-1990s, we like to think of his best work coming while he was alive. It was here that he assumed the role of thug storyteller, and it was arguably the position he was born for.

There are few artists who can boast the kind of huge impact Tupac had on his audience, and he did it largely with a plethora of massive songs. It is in these songs that Pac made himself a legend, and with these songs that we still pay tribute to the late, great rapper—arguably the greatest of all time. Below, we’re looking at one of his most potent track, the heartbreaking and emotional ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’.

While gangsta rap was popularised around the intrigue and flashy nature of guns, girls and gripping chains, Pac operated out of the ghetto in a new way — not escaping to the high ground but leading the way for his fans and friends to follow him. Though the rapper was never afraid to talk about the streets, he chose the darker side of life to illuminate.

His rhymes for ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’ perfectly showcase this style as he provides an empathetic retelling of a tried and tested story. A single verse allows Pac to run through the progressively saddening narrative with a venomous flow. It would be some of the rapper’s darkest moments, even if it did enlighten us all. That verse is one of Pac’s most brutal and honest.

“Now Brenda’s gotta make her own way
Can’t go to her family, they won’t let her stay
No money no babysitter, she couldn’t keep a job
She tried to sell crack, but end up getting robbed
So now what’s next, there ain’t nothing left to sell
So she sees sex as a way of leaving hell
It’s paying the rent, so she really can’t complain
Prostitute, found slain, and Brenda’s her name, she’s got a baby.”

The story told is one that is tragically all too familiar to the streets. It’s unclear whether Brenda was a solid reflection of a real person or just a composite of many different mothers. But many have suggested that Pac wrote the song after reading a story about a 12-year-old girl who threw her baby into a trash compactor. The harrowing story, and the lack of social welfare to support the child, struck a chord with Pac and he penned one of his most visceral songs because of it.

It is one of Tupac’s most jarring tracks and remains one of the most sincere moments we witness the human behind the thug.