Complex magazine has come up with a list of the best rapper for each year since 1979. It’s crazy when you look through the ’90s and see how much talent existed in the hip hop community. That fact becomes especially obvious when you start comparing the list to the 2000s – 2010s (Drake on the list multiple times, really?).
My personal favorite is, of course, Tupac.
1996 is a case study for every aspect of why 2Pac is so celebrated. He was a viable, competent artist in multiple arenas, and he had the discipline to incorporate his varied and conflicted missions into a single mantra. That savvy paid off in this year more than any other. It’s a shame that 2Pac’s ride had to end early, and on someone else’s terms, but the dedication to his craft that was on such full display in 1996 is why he’ll live forever.
In the event of my Demise
when my heart can beat no more
I Hope I Die For A Principle
or A Belief that I had Lived 4
I will die Before My Time
Because I feel the shadow’s Depth
so much I wanted 2 accomplish
before I reached my Death
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
and wiped the last tear from My eyes
I Loved All who were Positive
In the event of my Demise
Tupac Amaru Shakur
June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996
13 years ago today, at the age of 25, Tupac Amaru Shakur passed away after being shot six days earlier in Las Vegas. He was a talented musician, poet, and actor and will forever be missed. Rest in peace Tupac.
After waking up and seeing this article on the front page of Digg, I was instantly in a Tupac mood. The article does a good job of narrowing down his music to 22 of his best tracks (I’d disagree with some of them there) and it made me start thinking about his true place in history as an artist.
A lot of people dismiss Tupac as a typical thug. In fact, one of the comments on the Digg page stated:
People should forget about this thug and spend more time remembering real men like Dr. King, the Tuskegee airmen and Bernie Mac. Question, how long do you think it would take Dr. King to listen to a Tupac album before he hung his head in shame and walked away? Do you think Dr. King would be proud of the whole thug gangsta mentality? I doubt it. I want to see any man become more like Dr. King, not more like Tupac.
I can see his point to an extent, however, this commenter is limited by what the media saw of Tupac most of the time. They never saw the good things he did, they rarely played the deeper songs on the radio, only the party and gangster tracks, they never showcased his poetry. At least his acting ability garnered positive praise (though, he usually portrayed a thug in the movies, but that’s an issue with Hollywood and typecasting of African Americans and not of Tupac himself).