"One day I'm gonna bust/ Blow up on this society/ Why did you lie to me?/ I couldn't find a trace of equality!"
As he proceeds to critique the so-called justice system and the prison complex, the tone in Tupac's voice grows more and more urgent with each bar. 'Pac finally lets out his aggravated tension in the last line: "I'd rather die than be trapped in a living hell/ They got me trapped!" JM
11. "Old School"
With the name-dropping and homage that takes place in Pac’s name today, it’s easy to forget that he was once an up-and-comer. On “Old School,” Shakur gives a nod to everyone from MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim to Melle Mel, Slick Rick, and Chuck D. for paving the way for aspiring hip-hop artists. IR
10. "Life Goes On"
This gem from All Eyez On Me finds 2Pac nudging himself forward after losing some loved ones. "Life Goes On" is a bittersweet reminder that 'Pac had a knack for displaying strength in the face of adversity. HA
This title track from the 1995 masterpiece, Me Against the World
, is a perfect example of 2Pac's eff-the-world, melodrama-inducing attitude. HA
("Don't cry through your despair /I wonder if the Lord still cares, for us n***as on welfare /And who cares if we survive /The only time they notice a n***a is when he's clutching on a .45 /My neighborhood ain't the same, /Cause all these little babies goin crazy and they suffering in the game.")
'Pac shouts out his 'hood, while praying for better days. HA
Backed by a hazy cosmic soundtrack, 2Pac delivers a dose of vitriol on this standout track from 1996's Makaveli
. In 2003, Eminem, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes famously summoned 'Pac's spirit as they re-imagined "Hail Mary" as a diss to Ja Rule and Irv Gotti. HA
2Pac and Rappin' 4-Tay trade bars about imperfection on one hand and ponder afterlife on the other. Hear 'Pac predict his own death: "I hear the doctor standing over me, screaming I can make it /Got a body full of bullet holes layin here naked /Still I, can't breathe..."
One of the standout moments on the critically acclaimed double album, All Eyez on Me
Laid across the somber puffs of the harmonica solo from Stevie Wonder's "That Girl," "So Many Tears" finds Tupac pleading with God, renouncing past sins and his "mind full of demons."
'Pac recollects over the tears he's shed on account of the lives he's seen lost to violence. Truly one of his deepest and most personal moments.
4. "To Live & Die in L.A."
From Venice Beach to the San Gabriel Valley and all the areas in between, Tupac loved the City of Angels and the city loved him. Sure, "California Love" was a great party track devoted to the Golden State, but "To Live & Die in L.A." was an authentic gesture of homage -- paid to his true adoptive home -- where it "never rains in the sun." The fact that it became one of his several swan songs further eternalized his name and never-ending presence in the city, even to this very day. JM
On his debut single from 1991's 2Pacalypse Now
, 'Pac narrates the story of a 12-year old female who accidentally conceives and is incapable of raising her child. 17 years later, many rappers have kept this discussion alive by churning their own versions of the song ("Runaway Love," "Lil Girl Gone"), but "Brenda's Got a Baby" still reigns supreme. HA
"Dear Mama," 2Pac's ode to his mother Afeni Shakur, is pretty much the unofficial Mother's Day hip-hop anthem
. On this meticulously-crafted masterpiece, Shakur pats mama on the back for working tirelessly to put food on the table during the day and trying to liberate him from the perils of street life at night. HA
Perhaps the perfect showcase of the man's softer side, "Keep Ya Head Up" is arguably his best individual performance ever. Over DJ Daryl's rendition of Zapp & Roger's "Be Alright," Pac delivers a message about staying ahead of the struggle and showing respect to all, regardless of gender. ("Time to heal our women, be real to our women /And if we don't we'll have a race of babies /That will hate the ladies...") HA