I came across this Pitchfork article and thought I’d start grouping some artist and/or albums on the same pages and maybe do a little editing and summarizing (while including link to full original), include related info… we’ll see where it goes. We’re new to this. – Frank
2Pac’s All Eyez On Me is the magnum opus of a paranoid genius – Pitchfork
Tupac’s 1996 double album was made in a frenzy. It is paranoid and brazen, fun and fearless, but it is Pac’s singular style that keeps his magnum opus from coming undone at the seams.
About 300 miles north of Manhattan sits the Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison that, in 1995, housed its most famous inmate: Tupac Amaru Shakur. He was awaiting trial with an incredible bail price over his head, facing one and a half to four and a half years in jail. On top of normal psychological torture that comes with imprisonment, Pac was also having trouble sleeping. In November of the previous year––the night before a jury convicted him—he was shot in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio. “I have headaches,” he’d later tell Vibe. “I wake up screaming. I’ve been having nightmares, thinking they’re still shooting me.”
“FBI agents would approach Tupac at school and hound him for information.”
But outside of prison, he was becoming a superstar. In March of ‘95, Interscope released Pac’s third album, Me Against the World. It’s a remarkable record, at turns tender and fatalistic. There are fever dreams of the golden age in New York City; he mulls suicide and perches by windows with AKs. The album went immediately to No. 1.
It also had Pac’s first Top 10 hit, the towering “Dear Mama,” where he raps about “hugging on my mama from a jail cell.” Few mothers could relate more than Afeni Shakur, who was one of 21 members of the Black Panther Party indicted by a New York grand jury in 1971. They were accused of plotting to bomb two police precincts and the Queens Board of Education office, and of planning to shoot the officers who would flee from one of the precincts after the explosion. The Panthers were ultimately acquitted on all 156 counts in what was, at the time, the most expensive trial in the history of New York state. A month later, Afeni gave birth to her son who, growing up in East Harlem, was surrounded by radicals: the Panthers, the Black Liberation Army; Assata Shakur was a family friend. His stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list and on the run for much of the ‘80s—FBI agents would approach Tupac at school and hound him for information.
Apparently, there was an “All Eyez On Me” movie with mixed reviews. Here’s the Rotten Tomatoes summary:
ALL EYEZ ON ME tells the true and untold story of prolific rapper, actor, poet and activist Tupac Shakur. The film follows Shakur from his early days in New York City to his evolution into being one of the world’s most recognized and influential voices before his untimely death at the age of 25. Against all odds, Shakur’s raw talent, powerful lyrics and revolutionary mind-set propelled him into becoming a cultural icon whose legacy continues to grow long after his passing. ALL EYEZ ON ME stars Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan, Hill Harper, Jamal Woolard, Danai Gurira and Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac Shakur.
The title of 2PAC’s fourth album, All Eyez on Me, is not just a reflection of his usual arrogance and paranoia — people are watching 2Pac. This two-disc set comes just four months after he was released on bail pending appeal on his conviction for sexual assault. It comes barely a year after he was shot. Most important, All Eyez on Me marks 2Pac’s new allegiance with the West Coast’s powerhouse rap dynasty, Death Row Records.
All this drama was bound to affect 2Pac’s music. What made him interesting in the past was his contradictory nature: He would play the thug one second and exude vulnerability the next. He wrote some of the most woman-positive songs in rap, “Keep Your Head Up” and “Dear Mama,” while throwing down rhymes about ho’s and bitches. Sadly, those intriguing conflicts have now vanished. Rendering himself a cardboard cutout of a “playa,” 2Pac has surrendered wholesale to his thug side. There’s no equivalent to “Dear Mama” on this record, unless you count the vaguely affectionate “Wonda Why They Call U Bytch.” Now everything’s about (expensive) booze, bitches, cash, cars and contempt for his enemies. “What’d I tell ya I was gonna do, nigga, when I got out of jail?” he calls out on the introductory “Heartz of Men.” “I’s gonna start diggin’ into these niggas’ chests.”
But if 2Pac has traded in his complex persona for a place in the Death Row camp, the payback, as they say, has been a muthafucka. The lyrical content may be less original, but the sound is better. His new crew has given him badass beats, rolling choruses and funky quirks, and 2Pac, with his appealing voice and distinctive delivery, makes the most of this foundation. He moves easily between an angry staccato, as on “Holla at Me,” and a slower, more melodic drawl, as on “Life Goes On.” Dr. Dre, Death Row’s producing genius, turns out two songs — the grooving single “California Love” and the riotous “Can’t C Me,” with George Clinton — that prove to be two of the LP’s best for sheer melodic inventiveness.
Guests joining 2Pac include Zapp’s Roger Troutman and the new R&B crooner Danny Boy, as well as members of Jodeci. The hypnotic “Got My Mind Made Up,” with Dat Nigga Daz and Kurupt (both of Tha Dogg Pound), Redman and Method Man stands out, as do tracks with Snoop Doggy Dogg. Even as a garden-variety thug, 2Pac shows more skill than most. He deserves to have all eyes — and ears — on him.