In honor of what would have been Tupac’s 44th birthday, Jhené Aiko released a trio of new photos in which she recreates famous pictures of the rapper—including the cover of his epic double-album, All Eyez On Me, shown above. “Every birthday of his I always want to do something,” she told MTV. “I feel like I have to give his legacy some type of present. It started off, one time I did a video shoot where they spread his ashes. And it was a coincidence that I was there that day, we were all like, “Wait a minute, this is Tupac’s birthday and we’re here on the same beach.’ So after that, it’s been several years since then and every year I want to do something.”
Aiko finds Tupac’s versatility and wide range of interests particularly inspiring. “I never felt there were a lot of people I could relate to as far as wanting to do so many things with my life that don’t necessarily have to do with the other,” she said. “He was so contradictory to people, but to me he was just human and not afraid to express himself.”
Aiko ended her interview with a gentle reminder about the importance of the past. “Don’t forget about Tupac, don’t forget about Biggie, don’t forget about these amazing people that taught us these things. You can listen to her full conversation with MTV here. Below, watch footage of Aiko performing a live cover of her favorite Tupac track, “Keep ‘Ya Head Up,” check out her interview with FADER TV.