As the 20th anniversary of the rapper's 1996 death approaches, an evocative Powerade ad sets the tone for a reimagination of his legacy.
Late in February, Powerade premiered a commercial starring Chicago Bulls all-star Derrick Rose and the voice of the late Tupac Shakur reading poetry taken from his song "Mama's Just a Little Girl." As a child, representing Rose, rides his bike through an inner-city neighborhood, the voiceover intones, "You wouldn't ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals."
The spot marks the beginning of a "total reset of the Shakur estate," says Jeff Jampol, whose JAM Inc. was brought in by Afeni Shakur early in 2013 to oversee her son's business. In partnership with Tom Whalley -- current head of Loma Vista Records, who signed Shakur to Interscope in 1991 -- the company plans to mirror the work it has done managing the legacies of the Doors, Rick James, Janis Joplin, the Ramones and Otis Redding, and consulting the Michael Jackson estate -- specifically overseeing licensing, apparel and other media ventures. As the 20th anniversary of the rapper's September 1996 death approaches, elements in the works include new apparel rolling out later in 2015, collections like a recent Grammy Museum exhibit showcasing Shakur's writing, and a biography by a "very serious writer" whose deal is being finalized, Jampol says.