Poetic Justice is a film that’s considered to be a cult classic. Almost 27 years ago, the film that starred Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur opened at number 1 at the box office. In a time where classic films of the early 90s such as Friday and Waiting To Exhale are being revisited, the John Singleton written and directed film easily enters conversations in today’s world.
Following Tupac Shakur’s breakthrough role in Juice, he was cast as the role of “Lucky” in Poetic Justice. Initially, John Singleton had his sights on Ice Cube for the role, but he turned it down. “Actually, Ice Cube was supposed to be opposite her, and he was like, ‘Man, I can’t do no romance,’” Singleton said while speaking with Foundation Interviews. He also revealed that after viewing a screener of the actor in his debut role, he became intrigued.
Critics praised both Tupac’s and Janet’s performances in the film. In a 1993 interview with E! News, Shakur admitted that the film’s impact had a deeply personal effect on him. “It was therapeutic for this period in my life. I needed to do a part like this,” he said. “It would let me look inward to see where I was as a person—as a human being. And it left me with some good foundation to move on. I like to think that I do my thing for the young Black man. This is just another way since my rapping is geared mostly toward a certain crowd.”
Shakur would further go on to praise his then co-star, Janet Jackson. “I’d do anything with Janet,” he stated. “I’d go to the beach with Janet, I’d go to the trash dump. She was great. She’s a good person.”
Tupac’s portrayal of “Lucky” would go down in the rapper’s history as a very memorable role. Singleton also shared with The Daily Beast a time where he felt close enough to give some advice to the rapper concerning his career. “When we were working initially, he wasn’t that good a rapper,” the director explained. “I was like, ‘You ight, but you a better actor.’ He was like, ‘F**k you, man. Hip-hop is my voice.’ Hip-hop, being a rapper—that’s like being a gunslinger, that’s your manhood. Can’t nobody take that from you. If you can spit 16 bars and take somebody down that’s like having multiple weapons. I’m telling him, ‘That’s not your weapon—your weapon is the fact that you’re going to be a major star.’ He couldn’t see it. I’m stupid for saying it but also, he couldn’t see it.”
Years after the film’s release, someone who was once a part of Pac’s inner circle is coming forward with some new information. Haitian Jack, a former executive, and promoter in the music industry shared with The Art Of Dialogue podcast that the “California Love” rapper only received $7,500 for his work in the film. Check the clip via their Instagram below.