I was watching Dirty Harry last night which featured our fellow cowboy, Clint Eastwood. A scene from the movie had some shots fired on individuals travelling by a car. Somehow, it reminded me of the Rap legend, Tupac Shakur, who met with a similar fate. Tupac is one of the greatest rappers of all time.
As mentioned last week, Bandra cowboy and a musipedia, Narendra Kusnur, and I spoke about one of the most influential Rap albums, Me Against The World by Tupac Shakur for this week’s Album Talk. And as cowboys, we deliver on our word.*
Me: Tupac is one of the most controversial rappers in history. But even his biggest critics have praised his album, Me Against The World. It is probably the best rap album from the ’90s.
Kusnur: Tupac made songs that his listeners could relate to. Rap music was all about the Ghetto life, especially of the black community in the U.S. Earlier the rappers would just use rhyming words while writing songs. Later, the anger and frustrations of daily life started pouring out onto the lyrics. Tupac took this out-pour to another level.
He was only about 22-23 years old when this album came out.
Me: He was also facing a jail sentence before he released it.
Kusnur: The jail factor, his impoverished childhood and daily struggles came out in this album. The title itself, Me Against The World, is hard-hitting and blunt. The songs F*#@ The World and If I Die 2nite talk about depression, angst and all. And because of the jail term he was serving, a hype to album was built.
Me: If I Die 2nite is the first song on the album, right?
Kusnur: It’s the second one.
Me:If I Die 2nite has some profound lyrics like P*s*y and paper is poetry power and pistols. Also, there’s a track where he introduces the other artists on the album, the producers, and the backroom team.
Kusnur: Interestingly, these tracks did not come out as a single. The first single was Dear Mama, which was a tribute to his mother. Where he thanks her for his upbringing. His mother, an activist, later turned into a cocaine addict.
Me: This must be his softest song ever. I particularly remember this one as it was, I think, the first Tupac song I heard. It has lyrics like If you can make it through the night, there’s a brighter day.
Kusnur: The second single was Temptations.
Me: Did So Many Tears release as a single?
Kusnur: Yeah! That was the third one.
Me: I like So Many Tears as it is not an everyday Rap song. It has a harmonica feel with hard-hitting beats.
Kusnur: Temptations was more of a love song. The rest of the album is all about rebellion with a “Gangsta Rap” vibe. The album sold very well and Tupac became an influencer for the next generation of rappers.
Me: It is the first Rap album to debut at No.1. Except the three singles, the common theme of rest of the songs is death. There’s a song called Young Niggaz which is ironic as it is about the dangers of “gangsta” life, the one he was living! However, he never left it, even though it got him killed, eventually.
Kusnur: The production quality of the album is too good. There are fourteen producers involved in the album, apart from Tupac.
Me: Do you think they promoted this album to portray his image as a caring human being and improve his “gangsta” image?
Kusnur: He himself maintained that he wanted to make this album very introspective. He wanted to show his respect to the art of Hip-Hop.
Me: But the “gangsta” life caught up with him.
Kusnur: Yeah! That infamous incident after that boxing match.
Me: Should we go “desi” next week?
Kusnur: We are “desis,” if you remember.
*Language may be changed to meet publication’s requirements.