Rikers Island is the centerpiece of the New York City Department of
Corrections, a sprawling prison city of concrete and steel with housing
for more than 16,000 inmates. Early in 1995, it was also the temporary
home of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, incarcerated for a
crime he swore he did not commit. And it was there that Angela Ardis,
acting on a late-night wager among her friends and coworkers, sent a
letter, along with a photo and her phone number. To her utter delight
and amazement, Angela's phone rang a short while later. Tupac Shakur was
on the line.
Over the next several months, Angela and Tupac
shared a near-daily exchange of letters, poems and phone calls, and
their the relationship quickly grew into something neither of them could
quite define, a kinship of souls that touched each in unexpected ways.
Those original poems and letters, many of them written after Tupac's
transfer from Rikers to Dannemora State Prison, are presented here,
along with the increasingly passionate and personal phone calls that
touched on every subject imaginable. Far from the media spotlight, Tupac
was by turns playful, sensual and serious, offering sharp observations
on prison, music and the uncertainties of life. His letters to Angela
reflect how he felt about being shot five times and left for dead one
terrible night in New York in 1994, and his heartfelt verse encapsulates
his dreams for the future--a future that would be so tragically cut
short just over eighteen months after their correspondence began.
Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7th, 1996 and died a week later
from his injuries. His murder remains unsolved, an ending as enigmatic
as his life. But while Tupac may be gone, his words live on here, giving
every fan a rare glimpse inside the mind and unbroken spirit of a
passionate and unpredictable musical icon.