Jasmine Guy Talks of Her Afeni Shakur ...     

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2/3/2004 3:10:00 PM
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Jasmine Guy Talks of Her Afeni Shakur Biography
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JASMINE GUY first met Afeni Shakur in December 1994. Guy and friend Jada Pinkett (now Jada Pinkett-Smith), a close friend of Tupac Shakur, went to a New York City courthouse where Tupac was awaiting a hearing on sexual assault charges. Wrapped in bandages and confined to a wheelchair, Tupac had been shot five times the night before in the foyer of a Manhattan recording studio.

Guy met Afeni in the hallway. The women quickly struck up a friendship, and the former Alvin Ailey dancer and "A Different World" ' co-star was fascinated with Afeni's life.

Guy, who stars in her second season on the Showtime series "Dead Like Me" ' (10 p.m. Friday), spent the next 10 years talking with and recording Afeni's thoughts. Guy initially thought about making a movie on her life, but turned these intimate conversations into a book, "Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary." '

Guy signs copies of her book Tuesday at 2000+ Bookstore in Long Beach.

The memoir spans four decades, revealing the evolution of Shakur through a series of frank personal discussions on love, race, drugs, music and her son, Tupac, who was riding in the car of Death Row Records founder Suge Knight when he was shot four times. He died six days later, Sept. 13, 1996. His murder remains unsolved. Afeni doesn't hold back, and Guy is there every step of the way to capture every word.

Controversial, outspoken and candid, Shakur presents her life as she lived it -- from the dirt roads of rural North Carolina to the streets of the lower Bronx. She talks about her marriages, her pregnancies, her drug addiction, abandoning her daughter, Sekyiwa, her addiction recovery, her years in the Black Panther Party and her love of Shakespeare.

Here, Guy, 37, recounts meeting Afeni, listening to Tupac's music and putting everything in the book.

Q: What was it like the first time you met Afeni outside that courtroom in December 1994?

A: It wasn't quite what I had envisioned. I was feeling that I should sit back and let the family do their thing. (But) Afeni was so warm. She looked right at me and gave me a big hug, and was so grateful that Jada and I were there.

Q: Did she know who you were?

A: She knew that (Tupac and I) were friends. Actually, I won an Image Award from the NAACP, I forget exactly when. I went to the press tent afterward, I thought, to talk about the award. But all they did was ask me about this rapper Tupac. What did I feel about him winning an award? Should he have been nominated?

I wasn't up on the controversy and didn't get what the big deal was. The songs at that time that I knew him for were "Brenda" s Got a Baby'' and "Keep Ya Head Up." ' I was really confused. What's the big problem with "Keep Ya Head Up" '?

When I said, "Could you be specific about the songs you find offensive?" ' They said, "I don" t find them offensive, but (some people) and different women's groups do.'' I said, "I think we have to listen to pop music with a discerning ear. Even based on that, I don" t see that he, in particular, is responsible for most of the bitch and 'ho music out there.' I thought Two Live Crew (was more offensive).

The Shakur family heard that I'd stood up for him. It was purely a social opinion. I wasn't standing up for him because he was my friend's friend kind of thing.

Q: At the time you weren't familiar with his more controversial music, but since listening to more of his music, what do you think of the songs?

A: I wasn't offended by Tupac's music. I've been offended by some rap music, but his music wasn't offensive to me, especially in the beginning when he was so focused on his life experiences. If anythi

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