On this day, 26 years ago, 2pac released his critically acclaimed Me Against The World while serving his time in prison after shooting 2 off duty cops and for sexually assaulting a woman. The album reached number 1 and took over Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits as the best selling album of the year. More lyrical and personal then his previous albums, it showed a maturity and his way of confronting his past. The first artist to have a number 1 album while serving in prison, the album showed lyrics that were more reflective and personal to him than before. Let’s take a stroll and relive the album that reached Double Platinum.
Before I break down the album track by track, let’s talk a little bit about some of the themes on this album. Like his previous albums, the album talks about the trials and tribulations of survival in the ghetto. It consists of despair, paranoia, anguish, self-loathing and hopelessness. A lot of these things, we all go through on a daily basis. I know for sure I have and even to this day, I still deal with a lot of these. This album itself could be considered one of the many soundtracks to my life except I never grew up in the ghetto. However I did grow up not having much and was kind of a troublemaker that resorted to stealing and fighting, which in return, brought beatings and after being caught, forced to move to a town that used to be alright but now I hate with a passion. This album was the very first album I heard by him and easily became my favorite album. I related quite a bit to a lot of these songs and felt like he was specifically talking to me. 26 years later and this album is still ranked in my top 10 of favorite albums of all-time. And listening to it now, man was literally quite one of the best lyricists in the game. A poet that spun tales of his personal life in an art form that artists to this day try and duplicate. I can name a few off the top of my head but one personally I feel is heads above the rest and that’s Kendrick Lamar. But for now, let’s talk about Me Against The World.
Starting the album, we get hit with an intro that is a news report telling us that 2pac got shot in a hotel in New York that led to him getting hospitalized and eventually thrown in prison. If you watched the biopic, All Eyez On Me, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about. After the intro we get hit with the track “If I Die 2nite” which is one of the darkest tracks on this album that talks about getting others before they get you. He talks about drugs, society, about dying, heaven. In general, just a lot of subjects that shows us what happens in the ghetto. The main base of the track is him telling us, “if he dies tonight, don’t cry for him” which in some ways, preludes to the events that leads to him getting shot and him dying is a way to atone for his mistakes. Hard to imagine but 2pac in some sense had a way of seeing his future. Which leads me to the title track of the album, “Me Against The World”. This time he has help from Dramacydal aka The Outlawz on this track. Once again he questions whether he’s going to live or if he’s going to die. How he’s losing his homies which eludes to the death of one of his homies named Biggie Smalls, not Notorious B.I.G. that went by that name before he changed it to Notorious. He talks about how he can’t trust no one which harkens to him getting shot and him accusing Notorious and the Bad Boy clique setting him up. He talks about how the world doesn’t really focus on the youth, especially in this country unless there’s shooting involved. Crooked politicians which to this day, still exists and the reason why the country is so divided. He encourages studying to make your life better and have dreams and make them into a reality by not giving up. Just so many things in here that anybody can relate. I relate to a lot of this. Some of the things he talks about in here I wish I did things differently. For example, focusing on my education instead of slacking and cutting class and getting into trouble. To this day, I have regrets and unfortunately I can’t change them but I can learn from them and pass what I learn to the next generation. The next track is the second single of the album called “So Many Tears” that starts with a line from the bible about walking through the shadow of the valley of death. The whole first verse at the start of the song is him talking to God. Second verse kicks in with him talking about his childhood and how much trouble he got in. In the next verse he talks again about how many of his peers he lost which then leads into the punchline “I suffered through the years and shed so many tears.” In the next set of verses he talks about struggling in the business and him being in prison. Talks again about his foreseeable death. Later in the song, he talks about being in delusion and witnessing homicides and kids dying. Wanting to change and get out of the life but how he’s stuck which in some sense is precursor to his eventual departure from the life by death. The next track is the third and final single off the album called “Temptations” Song samples Zapp and Roger;s “Computer Love”, the song talks about relationship issues and loneliness and even thugs feel emotions despite their tough exteriors. The next track is “Young Niggaz”. The song talks about kids who grow up in the ghetto rush to join gangs and his experiences when he banging and slanging while surviving drive-bys and thinking about riches. Wanting to be something more and emphasizing to us that there is more to live for. Don’t join gangs, focus on your education and make something of yourself. One thing about Pac is he always focused on the kids in his earlier albums and this song is no exception. The next track is “Heavy In The Game” featuring Bay Area rapper Richie Rich and Lady Levi. The first 2 verses look like he’s glorifying drug dealing but really he’s telling us that’s how he’s making money. Rich’s verse talks about how some refuse to change and settle but more importantly be your own man and don’t be a punk. Respect the rules before you end up in a body bag. Pac fires back with his experience but also says follow the rules unless you want to follow those that died. Heavy stuff but Pac was on a whole other level. The next track is “Lord Knows” and it’s about him wanting to die after seeing so many of his friends dying and how he’s losing hope. Song is definitely talking about his fight with suicidal tendencies which I recently was going through. The main theme of this song is about what’s going to happen to him and what he does want to happen.
So the second half of the album starts with the first single off the album and one of his most endearring songs to date. A song dedicated to the mothers around the world, specifically his, called “Dear Mama”. A lot of us, love our moms and sometimes we do fight with them. I know I do and I’m not proud of it. A little something about me that no one in my life knows, is there are times where I am so mean to my mom that is downright disrespectful. I try every day to be good to her and fail a lot. Every time I fail, I die a little inside. Me personally, this song hits me very hard and I cry every time when I hear it because deep down, my mom has done the best she can for me and I don’t appreciate it. But that is for another time. All I’m saying is, respect your mom and show her love because you never know when she’s going to go. The next track is “It Ain’t Easy” and it’s about optimism that is bittersweet. Talks about how he can’t sleep at nights because he thinks someone is going to get him. Once again talks about how many of his peers he lost. Kids you can’t trust because deep down they’re wild. Talks about prison which once again eludes to him. This whole album foreshadows things to come and that’s pretty scary. Next track is “Can U Get Away” and talks about how he meets a woman that is taken but yet wants her. Pretty much the track is about lust and loneliness. Wanting to take her away from an abusive relationship which to this day, a lot of women still go through. Up next is “Old School” which talks about his influences and how they paved the way for him and others to do what they do. That without them, he wouldn’t be here today because he relied on their music to keep sane. The next track is “Fuck The World” which doesn’t take a scientist to figure out what he’s talking about in the song. Talks about allegations and backstabbers. All kinds of people coming after him and questioning where he stands. Just him giving those who accuse him the middle finger. The following track is “Death Around The Corner” which states that death lurks and stalks, especially him. Sins of his past coming back to get him. Only a matter of time before he dies. Once again, he foreshadows his upcoming death. If anything this album is showing us his future and teaching us what not to do. A lesson that we need to learn from. He’s not wrong about death stalking us. Any of us at any given time can die and that’s the truth. As far as you know, I can drop dead and this would be the last thing ever done by me. Heavy shit. The final track is called “Outlaw” which pretty much is self-explanatory. Talks about the life and what happens in it. What happens to you when you join it. What to expect and things to come. He gives us his experiences which is his way of teaching us don’t follow in his footsteps. The perfect track to end one of the most quintessential albums to own.
There you have it guys. If you read this far, congratulations. I broke down this landmark album track by track. To show the world that 2pac is truly one of the greats. His lyrics, his experience, he turned that into art. This is my favorite album by him and I wanted to show you guys a little bit about me and what the album means to me. His death to this day still affects me. This album still hits home. One of the few albums I can just lay back, close my eyes and just listen to him speak. Hard to believe that this album is 26 years old. I was only 10 when this album came out. Just think, one year later he dies. This September, it’ll be 25 years since he left us and look at his legacy that he left us. Rapper today still peg him as one of their primary influences and there’s a reason why. Dude is one of the deepest lyricists of the game. And he is still missed to this day. Thank you for reading this. Allow me to end this post with a quote from him, “Through every dark night, there’s a bright day after that, so no matter how hard it get, stick your chest out and keep ya head up and handle it”
One love! ♥