Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Tupac (Myspace Re-up and Reedit)

(I wrote this blog 4 years ago on MySpace. With today's being Pac's birthday, I'd figure I'd share it with you plus add some observations since.)

So I've had this argument brewing for a while and it goes like this: Tupac Shakur is one of the most overrated and underrated rappers of all time. Why do I dare say this about a hip hop (better yet, West Coast) legend that I truly admire and respect? Because I believe it's true and here's the evidence.

1st why is 2pac is overrated. For this to be understood, we have to break up Pac's career in two stages. Pre-Death Row Pac (his 3 albums before signing with Death Row) and Death Row Pac (every album starting with All Eyez On Me, his final album while alive). This is an important stage because Pac changed herefrom being a more conscious rapper to the epitome of gangsta rap.

The gangsta-rap version of Pac (Death Row Pac) is HIGHLY OVERRATED because this is the version we identify him with now and we think of this so often. This is the Pac that most people are fans of and it heavily contributed to the mythology of Pac due to his death soon after. (Most people did indeed become fans after this album as this was his highest-selling album with 9 million sold).

However, his music here is classic for gettin parties started but his albums (with the exception of the Makaveli album) are hit or miss. All Eyez on Me has prolly 1 disc worth of great songs and another disc worth of filler. Death Row Pac is all we see and no doubt this version of Pac is prolly the one we'll pay attention to the most, but look beyond the surface and you'll see there's more than meets the eye which brings to......

Pre-Death Row Pac being one the most underrated (and overlooked) rappers around. Pac made 3 albums during this time and it was during this time that he was more of what we call a "conscious rapper".

He still partied and was a rebel (he did go to jail during this time) but his music reflected more of his thoughtful side influenced by his Black Panther background and strong awareness of issues. It's worth noting, these albums sold decently (his first album went gold and the next two went double platinum, with Me Against the World debuting at #1 while in jail) and he did have hits on the charts (3 hits went Top 15 on pop charts).

But I think a LOT of Pac fans prolly haven't checked out these earlier albums or these songs unless they bought the Greatest Hits album. I dunno whether he's more lyrical during this stage but he definitely was more a "conscious rapper" and fans would be probably be more impressed to hear this side of Pac because it would give them a complete view of who he is

I believe Tupac is one of the most complex, multi-dimensional figures .not just in hip-hop but in all of music. He's misunderstood as just a gangsta rapper. Tupac was a smart individual who was highly educated and thoughtful. He was a thug poet and he represented passion rarely seen in hip-hop. I love Pac but I don't just love the gangsta side of him, I admire his insight and depth and I dare say he embodies some of the qualities of Malcolm X. I say he's over-rated and under-rated not as a diss but as a criticism of those who only embrace his gangsta side and a praise of how talented he truly is.

(To add on to it. I firmly believe that the Makaveli album was a reflection of pre-Death Row Pac. Listening to it, there's an urgency behind it. It feels like the flip side of Me Against the World - that was more introspective, this was looking at the world around him. There is no question that Pac wanted to leave Death Row and do more music that reflected his ideals/beliefs.

As an actor, Tupac would've made more critically acclaimed roles. He had a passion that many couldn't emulate today and perhaps many are scared to emulate. Look at DMX - the closest thing since he passed and his demons overtook him.

I couldn't do a Favorite 10 for Biggie so it's almost impossible to do it for Pac. But here's one of my favorite songs. Tupac is bigger than hip-hop and his message/words/impact will never die.

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