There are few celebrity couples that seem like odder fits than 2Pac and Madonna were when they were together. On the surface, they existed within very different spaces as artists, with ‘Pac speaking on issues of police brutality and black power while Madonna was cranking out pop hits.
And as it turns out, there was a bigger elephant in the room than the type of music they made. In a newly-publicized letter 2Pac wrote from prison, he explains a motivating factor behind his breakup with Madonna—race. Though segments of the letter shared by TMZ have been blurred out, there are long sections we can read, including this bit on calling it off.
“For you to be seen with a black man wouldn’t in any way jeopardize your career, if anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting,” he wrote. “But for me at least in my previous perception, I felt due to my ‘image’ I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was. I never meant to hurt you.”
Though he doesn’t say it outright, the implication from the letter is clear. If you listen to 2Pac’s early work, especially his debut album 2Pacalypse Now, a lot of the issues he’s speaking to specific to the black experience in America. “Why did you lie to me? I couldn’t find a trace of equality,” he rapped on the song “Trapped,” and the message of black America’s tilted playing field was intertwined through his work until his untimely death. In his eyes—or at least in the eyes of a certain segment of his fan base—continuing a relationship with a white pop star like Madonna was no bueno.
This is also a lot different than, say, Kodak Black’s recent assertion on his racial dating preferences. 2Pac’s motivations don’t appear driven by his own perception of beauty, but rather societal pressures put on him by the people supporting his music.
Later in the letter, 2Pac also admits that things Madonna said publicly cut him deep. One interview she conducted in particular struck a chord, and it looks like it caused friction between them.
“An interview where you said, ‘I’m off to rehabilitate all the rappers & basketball players’ or something to that effect, those words cut me deep seeing how I had never known you to be with any rappers besides myself,” he said. “It was at this moment out of hurt & a natural instinct to strike back and defend my heart & ego that I said a lot of things.”
In the end, it seems like they were able to leave things on good terms, and 2Pac even closed the letter by asking Madonna to visit him in prison so he could talk about this with her in person. Though he felt they needed to end things for various reasons, it doesn’t sound like there was any ill will between them.
The letter, which will be up for auction for $100K starting on July 19, can be viewed here.