22 years ago, rap icon 2pac Shakur released Me Against The World

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< 22 years ago, renowned rap star Tupac Shakur took the world by storm with his album Me Against The World–which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and established the African-American musician from Baltimore as a force to be reckoned with.

Tupac Amaru Shakur was a gifted musician and one of the most overwhelming entertainers of all time. One minute he was spewing hatred for police officers and the CIA, holding up obscene gestures for the cameras to show off defiance. The other minute, he was penning down emotional songs which had the ability to touch your soul and stir it deep. And that is exactly what his album, Me Against The World, portrayed about his persona when it was released on 14 March 1995, 22 years ago.

To understand the title of his music album, you’d have to see the context here. Tupac Shakur was shot five times outside a recording studio on November 30th, 1994 at Times Square, New York. The next day, he was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison for sexually abusing a fan, a charge he vehemently denied. Tupac claimed that he had been framed for the offence and claimed innocence. Of course, he blamed the shooting on musical rivals Biggie Smalls and Bad Boy group. A man shot five times and ‘framed’ for a sexual abuse offence will definitely go for the title Me Against The World.

The most awe-inspiring aspect about Me Against The World was the fact that it had topped the charts while Shakur was incarcerated at the time, making this a unique feat which has not been matched as of yet. This was the rapper’s third studio album and like his previous ones, did feature violence and activism but there was much more to it. While Shakur did confront his demons on most of the songs from the album, he did delve into his human side as well and churned out stellar hits such as Dear Mama and the fan favourite So Many Tears.

Dear Mama was an emotional tribute from Shakur to his mother and chronicled all the struggles she had gone through to raise a troublesome child despite their financial constraints and her problems with the law. Rappers were expected to talk about violence, poverty, activism, wealth and sports cars but here was Shakur paying tribute to his mother. When you’re a ‘gangsta rapper’, releasing emotional songs may put your credibility on the streets to test. Trust none other than the maestro to pull it off with perfection and that is exactly what Tupac did. It was mainly Dear Mama which drove the album to the number one spot, earning praise from fans, critics, contemporaries and women as well–which was almost unprecedented for a ‘gangsta rapper’.

So Many Tears is yet another song by Shakur which brings to life his wariness with the world and his suicidal tendencies. The song deals with how all of his friends went to an early grave and how the rapper fears the same might happen to him as well (something that did transpire in the same manner a year later). The song not only shows off Tupac Shakur’s lyrical prowess but his stellar storytelling skills.

If I Die 2Nite is another tragic song that hauntingly predicts his own death through shooting. Throughout the song, Tupac talks about his enemies and how most of them are after them for his life. He talks about striking back at them and not bowing out of a fight, something for which he was famous for.

All in all, Me Against The World is till this day, regarded as one of the greatest rap albums of all time. Throughout the album, Shakur speaks about pain, deception, violence, torture, love, defiance, life, poverty and of course, his own death. Tupac’s musical genius was evident throughout the album–which pushed away Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits off of the Billboard 200 top spot. As mentioned above, Shakur was imprisoned at the time hence this was an unprecedented achievement. The album has managed to sell 2.4 million copies in the United States. The album stayed number one on the Billboard 200 chart for four consecutive weeks, making Shakur a force to be reckoned with.

Tupac was shot to death a year later in September 1996, bringing to life all the predictions he had made in earlier songs detailing his murder. Though dead at 25, albums such as Me Against The World make him one of the most revered posthumous artists, even more than 20 years after his passing.

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