Today, as we wish Happy Pi Day to each other on Twitter or go day drinking amidst a Chicago River turned green, we may also recall that 2Pac’s #1 album, Me Against The World, turns 20 years old.
On March 14, 1995, people were flocking to stores for the album as 2Pac was serving his prison term for a sexual assault charge. Me Against The World debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts amidst the controversy that was also chillingly documented on the album’s intro.
The intro of news clips set the tone for a furious ‘Pac to rhyme in alliteration throughout the unfortunately prophetic next track “If I Die 2nite”. The skill on display was one of the initial tracks I really gravitated to as an adolescent and it’s still today in my top tier of 2Pac tracks.
I couldn’t ask for a better start to a hip hop album so between Me Against the World and years later, Common’s Be, I have my answer to the greatest start of an album.
Between the start and the iconic album cover, it’s my first memory that’s triggered of Me Against the World, followed soon after by the next, and title track of the album. It’s a classic rise above anything anthem that still today has a motivational pull on listeners of all generations.
The mood of Me Against the World became increasingly personal and is long considered one of ‘Pac’s most personal albums of his career. “Dear Mama”, his classic ode to his mother Afeni Shakur, was the album’s first single and peaked at #9 in the Billboard Hot 100. Can you imagine that compared to today’s climate of top 10 singles?
Later singles “So Many Tears” and “Temptations” peaked at 44 and 68 respectively and are also personal favorites from the album. I also particularly enjoy “Old School” and “Lord Knows” and in listening to the album in full today, I found myself vibing to some of the subtleties in “Young N****z”.
If I had to pick one 2Pac album as my favorite or as one for first-time listeners I would go with Me Against the World. Join me in a reflective and renewed listen above, 20 years to the day that it was released.
“It was like a blues record. It was down-home. It was all my fears, all the things I just couldn’t sleep about. Everybody thought I was living so well and doing so good that I wanted to explain it. And it took a whole album to get it all out. I get to tell my innermost, darkest secrets I tell my own personal problems.”
– Tupac Shakur