"I won't deny it. I'm a straight ridah. You don't wanna fuck with me. Got the police bussin at me, but they can't do nothing to a G."
20 years later that chorus STILL gives me chills. The greatest opening to a song, to a album, in any genre of music ever. Daz laced the beat and it's definitely a all time favorite beat of mine. Pac was fresh out on bail out of jail thanks to Suge Knight and he wanted revenge on everyone. The people who set him up. The media. Rappers. The industry. He wanted blood. Who could really blame him? He went through so much shit. They were throwing dirt on his name. Calling him rapist. Claiming his career was finished. He was betrayed. After his release he was reincarnated and he had this eerie feeling that he didn't have a lot of time left. You always got this impression through his music so I truly believe that's why he put his heart and soul into "All Eyez On Me." Now knowing what we know now. Pac didn't have a lot of time. He died the year it was released. This album set the trend of Double Disc albums because they started coming out the wood work after it was released. He made this album in 2 weeks. 2 FUCKING WEEKS. Think about that. Out of every album I've ever heard whether it was a R&B album, Rap, Rock, whatever. All Eyez On Me taught me more than any album I've ever heard. I was already a child taught to not fear anything or anyone but once I heard "All Eyez On Me" I definitely didn't fear nothing. This is the album that helped me evolve into a strong, proud black man. I'm a share my personal history on Tupac first before getting into the classic.
"I don't want anybody to follow me what so ever. I don't want a army"
"Instead of a role model I wanna be a real model because a role is a role."
"Yes I'm a say I'm a thug because I came from the gutter and I'm still here."
Great quotes from a great man. I first heard Pac from seeing his video "Brenda's Got A Baby" on BET's Video Soul. I remember always really being sad and scared to watch some of his videos because I knew as a child the imagery he showed in his videos I've heard or seen around St.Louis. Shit that's real will always hit home because it could possibly happen to you. I INSTANTLY started looking up to him after I seen the videos. He was so cool and passionate to me. He never had to tell you how great he was. He never told you he was a genius. There are no geniuses. Only genius ever is the most high. Tupac's focus was always showing us right and wrong and having us learn from his mistakes and triumphs. My dad had all his albums so I never had to buy any of his cd's or tapes. I would be at recess at school rapping his lyrics along with all my homies. Cussing and all. We was always throwing up Westside. Some of us were from the Westside of St.Louis some of us weren't but shit we was like 9 or 10 years old. We didn't know any better. We seen Pac do it so we did it. When he got shot the first time and survived we thought he was Superman. I remember I could NEVER watch the end of the "Dear Mama" video because they showed the image of him on the stretcher shot in the head. I never wanted to see Pac hurt. It scared me as a kid.
What some people don't understand especially in debating who's the greatest of all time. Is that in my world it's not about lyrics. I honestly stopped caring about that argument years ago but I go by influence. No rapper will ever surpass Tupac Shakur. Ever. He is a notch under Michael Jackson to me. You can disagree all you want. I don't give a fuck. He is the most influential rapper ever. I've never seen a rapper that had everyone's heart. He wasn't super lyrical. He just rapped what he felt and delivered it powerfully. You felt that shit. The closest rapper that can do that today is Lil Boosie. Yes Boosie, that is not a typo. You just FEEL what the fuck he says. It's a gift a lot of artist don't have. He is the ONLY celebrity I ever cried over. When he died I cried. I seen my best friend lose his shit. He damn near fainted and you couldn't say Pac name around him for days or he'd trip. We all came out our cribs on my block after seeing the news on MTV and niggas was straight crying. Kids, Grown Men and Women were crying. God bless Michael Jackson but I didn't cry over Mike. I related more to Pac. We thought Pac was invincible. When he got shot in Vegas and was in the hospital we was at elementary school saying he was going to come back again and even stronger and I'll never forget there was this girl in my class named Mauriel and she was the only one saying he was going to die. She was like "Nah that nigga got shot too many times. He not making it." She said that word for word. We wasn't trying to hear it but she was right. A few days after Pac died, the "I Ain't Mad At Cha" video premiered on MTV and the video eerily predicted his death and he spit my all time and realest verse on the 3rd verse of that song. The 3rd verse is only on the edited version. He rapped that verse in the video with his praying hands. Man. I was like damn. My hero is really gone but I can't help but smile with tears. We all ran out our cribs AGAIN to talk about the video. We were so proud of him and that video put a lot of us at ease about losing him and helped us realize what he did for us.
You have to understand. My generation didn't have a Martin Luther King Jr. A Marcus Garvey. A Malcolm X. Tupac Shakur was my Malcolm X. I am extremely lucky to have my childhood in the 90's and be able to recall it. I truly thank the lord for it. I lived through the greatest music and cartoon era and I can recall it all. I wasn't a infant. I lived through a time where I seen Pac interviews live. I was aware he was alive and well. It seems weird but it shocks me every time I think about it. Pac is the reason why I look at all these rappers and call them fake for not speaking their minds on real issues. He loved black love. He didn't worship or want approval from these corporations or fashion industries ran by white people who never cared about our people. He wanted the approval of black people first before anything else because that's what he related to and he knew his people understood him best. All the protests we seen in 2014 and 2015, Tupac would be leading the charge if he was alive. No doubt. He would not be hiding. Pac spoiled my generation. When Pac had a problem he'd voice it immediately. If you fake or do some weak shit he'll call you out on it. We were so used to that. These kids today worship lames and cowards and they don't think they're cowards because the way these artists behave today is the norm to them. It's all they've seen growing up. They don't know anything else. Tupac is a myth to them. There was no such thing as playing the industry game and being P.C, so when we see these rappers today not speaking how they feel we look at them like clowns. Watch his interviews. No one was safe. He spoke what he felt. Find me a rapper going to hood house parties with no security. Rare as fuck. They'd ask Pac why he'd still go back to the hood even though he had money. What you want a black man who came from poor circumstances to do? Hang in the rich neighborhood with the rich white folk who don't like him and he'll never fit in? He wants to be around his people. He went back to help the people who helped make him rich, that's why I get so fucking upset at people today saying rappers don't owe anybody anything. BULLSHIT! The people put them where they are. Pac went back and threw shows in the hood and always tried to get gangs to call truces and stop killing each other. He talked to the youth and tried to get people to put the guns down. He was for the people. He gave the neighborhood kids money. He was always active in the communities. There will never be another one like him. He had all the rappers shook. He probably the only black man in history to shoot corrupt cops and not go to prison or die for it. All the women loved him. He was the most respected. The most imperfect and real artist I've ever seen. The imperfect side of him is what makes "All Eyez On Me" so timeless.
All Eyez On Me turned me into a man because it showed me reality and imperfections in humanity, myself, and the world. I wasn't receiving that on any other rap album. It had an example of almost every situation in life. The way Ambitionz Of A Ridah kicks this album off is so uplifting to me. It gets me so amped because I'm hearing a man everyone counted out come back so viciously and say this is what "YOU" created. Now I'm going to give you something to fear. A black man with a purpose. It showed me to stand up for myself and fight through adversity. Fuck who counting you out. You're only done when you say you done. You have to keep fighting. Don't be a fucking coward. Man the fuck up and hold your shit down. You have the track "No More Pain" that echoes the same sentiment. Sometimes you have to carry yourself as if no one can fuck with you except god. It'll make you feel great and that's what those 2 songs do for me. They gave me extra confidence. The funny thing about this album is that it would've been even better if Dj Quik production samples would've cleared because "Late Night" was left off the album. One of my favorite songs Pac made and Quik had a classic verse on it.
I definitely learned about women listening to "All Eyez On Me." Video Vixens, Gold Diggers, and Scandalous women are discussed on "Scandalouz" and "All About U." God rest the soul of Nate Dogg because he killed the hook on both songs. Women who are promiscuous and don't have their priorities in order on "Wonder Why They Call." In my opinion that's the song with the most powerful message on the album. You have "Thug Passion" where I really heard Henny for the first time and really wanted to drink it. The drink Thug Passion is actually nasty as fuck because Alize is so fucking thick. I don't know how Pac mixed it with Henny because that shit had me making bitter faces and shit when I started drinking when I was older. Thug Passion is just the ultimate chill with your shorty track. My Aunt's and Uncle's used to play the fuck out of it when they would have fish fry's. There's "I Rather Be Ya" featuring Richie Rich which is a true side nigga anthem. I became a instant fan of Richie Rich after I heard that song and the "I Got 5 On It" remix. "Run The Streetz" taught me how to explain to my woman that I'm just going to kick it with the squad and when I come back I'm all yours. Just give me some space. She don't need to be up under me all day and night. I'm coming back to you. I'll bring some Henny and chicken back. Watch some Adult Swim. Fuck. Conversate. Chill. Pac literally described every woman you'll come across in life on this album. I was well prepared. Except for Gold Diggers. I always been broke as fuck so there was nothing to dig for.
These features on here though. I have to talk about them. Nate Dogg held it down like the true legend. E-40 (In my Top 5). Redman. Method Man. Kurupt literally rapped one of the craziest verses in hip hop history on "Got My Mind Made Up." I felt sorry for Red and Meth for going after that verse. It was just unreal how timeless that verse was. I can count on one hand of verses that are debatably just as good but that's as far as it goes. You had Dre, Snoop, Outlawz, Richie Rich, Rappin 4 Tay, C-Bo, B-Legit, there's so many to name. I liked how every feature were placed on the right songs. I could hear the feature rapping on the beats without Pac, so their feature is justified.
Reality. Life. Problems. Trial and Error. These factors in these specific songs are this albums foundation. "Life Goes On" is self explanatory. Whether if you here or not the world going to continue with or without you. The same goes for if you lose loved ones. "Only God Can Judge Me." We're all imperfect. No one can judge you because they've committed sin just like you have. "Shorty Wanna Be A Thug." The youth can grow up in a good situation or bad situation but it's up to them to make the right decision. "Picture Me Rollin." Imagine me succeeding. Who knew? Look at me now. I beat the odds. Last but not least. My favorite, "I Aint Mad At Cha."
I told you why "I Ain't Mad At Cha" was very important to me. It was a song that helped me and my homies have closure about Tupac's death but I never understood the song until I was about 17 years old. It taught me that even though I love a lot of people in my life that there will come a time that we will grow apart. It's how life works. We grow up together. Fought together. Kicked it together but we all have our own paths and journey's. Pac was explaining this on this song. He was stuck in the past and running the streets while one of his closest friends was growing up and changing right before his eyes and instead of holding it against his friend, he was proud of what he was witnessing. He showed selflessness. He seen that his friend didn't want to sleep with a bunch of women anymore and was starting his own family. He didn't want to drink and smoke in the hood anymore. He respected his friends growth and that shows that he's experiencing growth within himself and that's a start for him to change himself. This song shows why Pac was special. He didn't have to be super lyrical or have a bunch of metaphors in the song. He just spoke the real and how he felt about a friendship that he felt was ending and was happy about them growing apart because his friend was becoming a better man and he wasn't holding him back. He just acknowledged his friend's growth and instead of saying he's fake for changing he just simply tells him "Go head cuz I ain't mad at cha." Life hard as fuck and sometimes you have to choose yourself over every one else especially if you're trying to do right and steer your life in the direction you want it to go. Tupac understood that and he taught me how to understand that and I believe that was the most important thing I learned from this album and prepared me for adulthood. The 3rd verse brings a tear to my eye every time I watch the video. It just hit home so hard because it's still relatable today.
"Father Forgive Us For Livin` While All My Homies Stuck In Prison,
Barely Breathin` Believin That The World Is A Prison,
It`s Like A Ghetto We Could Never Leave, A Broken Rose,
Giving Bloom Through The Cracks Of The Concrete,
So Many Other Things For Us To See, Things To Be,
Our History so Full Of Tragedy And Misery,
To All My Homies Neva Made It Home,
The Dead peers I Shed Tatooed Tears for When I`m Alone,
Picture Us Inside A Ghetto Heaven, A Place To Rest,
Findin` Peace Through This Land Of Stress,
In My Chest I Feel Pain, Comin` Sudden Storms,
Life Full Of Rain In This Game Watch For landstorms,
Our Unborn, Never got to Grow Never Got to see What`s Next,
In This World Full Of Countless Threats,
I Beg God, To Make A Way For Our Ghetto Kids
To Breathe Show A Sign Make Us All Believe
Cuz I Ain`t Mad At Cha" - Tupac Shakur (I Aint Mad At Cha Verse 3 Edited Version)
20 years later. This album still means so much to me. It cemented Tupac's legacy and taught me how to be a man. Salute to Tupac's Thriller. A Magnum Opus. See you in September.