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Top 10 Tupac Songs

Tupac Shakur

Christopher Polk, Getty Images

The late Tupac Amaru Shakur is both a hip-hop legend and an urban legend. Reason being, he stands as one of the greatest artists to ever pick up a mic, yet his posthumous releases have led his gigantic fan base to believe more than once that he may still be alive and recording. In his 25 years on this earth, ‘Pac recorded more songs than probably any artist ever. While it was difficult to choose just 10 from his catalog, found the tracks that impacted in various ways. Tupac was quite a renaissance man, and his music adequately reflected that. Here’s the top Tupac songs.

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‘2Pac Greatest Hits’
Tupac passed away two years prior to the release of this song. While it borrowed some verses from other Pac tracks, it doesn’t make this one any less poignant. Tupac muses over the world around him, wondering why he sees no changes happening. He even says, “And although it seems heaven sent, we ain’t ready to see a black president.” Had Tupac Shakur lived to see the 2008 (and 2012) elections, he’d know we were ready now.

‘I Get Around’

‘Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.’
Tupac switched gears like nobody’s business. In one breath he’s talking about politics and injustice in society, in another he’s speaking about the betterment of women. Then of course there’s the other side of Pac, the womanizer who likes to have a good party with the female persuasion. On ‘I Get Around’ he links up with former Digital Underground group mate Shock G to throw the ultimate party. And boy do they get around in the video.

‘I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto’

‘R U Still Down?’
Tupac spent a lot of time pondering his own demise. It’s something that haunted him throughout his entire career. It was like he somehow knew his time on earth would be cut short. A song like ‘I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto’ was so cryptic. For one, it arrived a year after Pac passed away, so to know he dedicated a whole song to questioning his own spot in heaven before heading there was deep.

‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’

‘2Pacalypse Now’
This was Tupac’s introduction into social commentary rap. The track addressed domestic abuse, teen pregnancy and other acts of violence that artists often sweep under the rug in song. Considering Tupac never held his words, music was the perfect platform for Tupac Shakur to address topics like these. The fact that he was doing it from the start shows how bold he was from the jump. Other artists should take note of that level of courage.

‘Hail Mary’

‘Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory’
There was something so crazy about Tupac adopting the moniker Makaveli, especially when he did. The name is a loose interpretation of philosopher Machiavelli, who often spoke about staging one’s own death as an ultimate act of deception. When Tupac released ‘Hail Mary’ as Makaveli, and then died seven days after being shot with an album subtitled ‘The 7 Day Theory,’ it was no wonder why people thought he was still alive. Some still do to this day.
Tupac feat. Dr. Dre

‘California Love’

‘All Eyez On Me’
This song had everyone wishing they lived on the West Coast, since apparently, California knows how to party. With Dr. Dre on the assist, the two went back and forth in a futuristic metal clad video looking like they were having the time of their lives with a vocodered backdrop. Let’s not forget the fact that Tupac was just released from prison around the time this song arrived. “Out on bail, fresh outta jail, California dreamin’” was his lyrical homecoming.

‘Dear Mama’

‘Me Against the World’
Afeni Shakur, a former Black Panther who was pregnant with Tupac while she was serving time in jail, was the subject of an entire song dedicated to her by her son. Surviving poverty, drug addiction and the aforementioned prison system, Afeni was an inspiration to Tupac. When he passed, she started the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, as well as Amaru Entertainment, continuing her son’s legacy. This song shows how much Tupac really and truly loved his mother.

‘I Ain’t Mad at Cha’

‘All Eyez On Me’
This was another cryptic song, considering it released the same year as Tupac Shakur’s passing. The song is basically Tupac remembering his life and making peace with it. It’s as if he knew he was going somewhere and wanted to somehow right all of his wrongs. The song even breezes by a friendship gone sour, complete with some romantic regrets. While there is no real conclusion if this was his peace treaty with Biggie, it sure felt like it.
Tupac feat. the Outlawz

‘Hit Em Up’

‘All Eyez On Me’
Then we reach the other side of Tupac’s bi-polarism, where he spits pure fire. ‘Hit Em Up’ was his lyrical revenge over his enemies, and sparked an East Coast/West Coast war. Tupac felt Biggie had something to do with his shooting at Quad Studios and aired him out on wax. Then he went for Mobb Deep’s jugular and even threw Chino XL under the bus. The Outlawz helped. It was one of the most flagrant beef tracks in rap history.

‘Keep Ya Head Up’

‘Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.’
Sometimes he partied, sometimes he yelled, sometimes he made trouble. But Tupac Shakur had a story to tell. It was filled with twists and turns, often flooded with the obsession of death. While we lost him way too soon, his multiple messages will forever live on. Out of all of his meaningful songs, ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ rings the loudest. It’s inspirational and reminds people (particularly women) to always remain hopeful. Wise words from a true poet.

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