2Pac was born on June 16, 1971 and died on September 13, 1996, but his legacy was birthed on March 14, 1995. On this day 26years ago, Pac's third studio album, Me Against The World, was released and rap hasn't been the same since. Because of this album and the controversy surrounding it, critics and fans have used the work as a litmus test for "realness" in rap.
With Me Against The World, Pac took the opportunity to address his many run-ins with the law, his feelings towards friends-turned-enemies, paranoia and even his own mortality. The fact that his words were backed up by the truth via news headlines resonated with people around the world, making it his definitive body of work.
“The emotional, the sad songs, were his personal favorites,” said Johnny J, one of the late Tupac Shakur‘s producers. There was always a plaintive side to 2Pac’s thug-life tales, and he foregrounded the pathos on his 1995 ballad tribute to his mother, Afeni Shakur. The song is the ne plus ultra of hip-hop odes to Mom.
Tony Pizarro’s beat, with its plush Seventies soul samples, sets a tender mood, and the rhymes strike a similar note: “I appreciate how you raised me/And all the extra love that you gave me.” But “Dear Mama” hits harder for its warts-and-all realism, as 2Pac doesn’t shy from describing his own failings, his pain over his absent father and his mother’s struggle with drug addiction: “And even as a crack fiend, Mama/You always was a black queen, Mama.”
So Many Tears
Tupac died violently on September 13, 1996. In fact, he believed an early death was his fate — a mountain impossible to move. A year earlier, the rapper, actor, poet, and author predicted his own demise when he released a powerful spiritual hymn called 'So Many Tears'. This song, is not only eerily somber and pessimistic about his disposition in life, but also boldly optimistic about God’s redemptive grace after death. Despite experiencing “hell on earth” and the steep struggle with urban life, he still believed that attaining salvation was possible.
Before Tupac was out on bail and California Dreaming in the Summer of ’95, his closest friends held him down when he was locked up, for the music video “Temptations.” From the opening intro with Ice-T and Coolio singing classic Keith Sweat and the “video 2pac” snatching the hotel room key, it set the tone for the romantic-comedy music visuals.
With Treach, Warren G, and of course Bill Bellamy all seen getting into the mood with their ladies, the video had a wire-array of cameos also from Shock-G, Salt-N-Pepa, Jasmine Guy, Isaac Hayes, and Jada Pinkett Smith. This music video was even a preview to Bill Bellamy’s “Def Jam’s How to Be a Player” film that released 2 years later, centered around those same temptations we see in this clip. While All Eyez on Me may be considered Pac’s best album by the masses, some of us were always Me Against the World listeners, especially with gems like this flashback.
'Temptations' was included on 2Pac's Greatest Hits album in 1998.
The song can also be heard in the movie "8 Mile", starring Eminem, after the first battle, towards the end of the movie.