Top 10: 2Pac Songs

Posted: 02/04/2016 in Hip Hop, Lists

The worst thing about making a list of 2Pac songs: It’s extremely hard to choose when there are so many terrific songs and almost certain that you’re going to leave some of them out. The best thing about making a list of 2Pac songs: You can never go wrong with the guy. No one’s going to scream at you like, “Hey, that’s a really bad song!” about one of the picks on the list.

Next 10 (in no particular order): How Do You Want It, I Get Around, Ratha Be Ya Nigga, Keep Ya Head Up, Tradin’ War Stories, California Love, Krazy, Me Against the World, Do For Love, All Eyez On Me

2Pac

10. Brenda’s Got a Baby: “I hear Brenda’s got a baby / But Brenda’s barely got a brain,” what a way to kick off that hit. It’s one of the first examples to display Pac’s brilliant portrayals of socio-cultural issues in the 90s. His fictional character Brenda gives birth to a baby when she’s only 12 and Pac takes you through her journey in a way that no one else could. You feel the pain and the ordeal Brenda’s going through deep in your heart while you listen to the track, even though having no connection on any account with the desperate little girl and her newborn baby. And the fact that 2Pac was only 20 years old when this one was recorded makes the song even more impressive than it already is.

9. Dear Mama: The majority of people, mostly the so-called fans among others, tend to see 2Pac as an iconic figure for Thug Life and gangsterism, but as real 2Pac followers all around the world, we know that he was much more than that. This song is the best evidence of the existence of Makaveli’s touching emotional side. While it’s hard to know whether it was the love for his mother or the hatred towards his father had given him the needed motivation to write this one, it’s undoubtedly among his best works. Dear Afeni Shakur, thank you for giving birth to the greatest artist I’ve ever seen.

8. Holla at Me: An odd pick, right? This one has been on my all-time list since the first time I had listened to it. It obviously does not give you the “Hit ‘Em Up Effect”, but this still is a perfectly constructed diss song with marvelous punchlines and a crazy hook that gets you addicted just like that. It goes out to Stretch, one of Pac’s ex-homies, whom the West coast rapper blamed as one of the traitors who set him up in 1994’s shooting. Nanci Fletcher’s sings “You better beware where you lay / We better not find where you stay” to suggest beefing with Tupac is never a good idea, which usually ends either with someone on the other side getting shot or beautifully outraged diss records like this one.

7. Hail Mary: Always been a fan favorite, “Hail Mary” has to have made every single list of 2Pac songs in history. The song reflects all the things Pac has been going through, which is amazing and terrifying at the same time. The lyrics point to the fact that the rapper is desperate, angry, and tired but he also sounds fearless and absolutely sure that he has nothing to lose, which makes him quite scary. “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me / Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting pussy,” isn’t one of his famous lines for nothing. It means “I’m coming for you,” and we know that no one, and I mean no one can stand a chance against Makaveli in his prime.

6. Ambitionz Az a Ridah: The first song of my all-time favorite album has 2Pac like the straight up, real G that he was. He tears the track apart, thanks to his three monster verses with massive punchlines, pure gangsta talk and no fucks to give. “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” is a spectacular proof of how technically and lyrically skilled Tupac Amaru Shakur was at that young age of 25, which unfortunately was the oldest he got. Whenever it’s dark and I have to walk home, I put this song on to feel as strong as he was, even though deep down I know no man ever lived had a more distant relationship with fear than 2Pac.

5. Ghetto Gospel: You can actually feel how young 2Pac was at the time he recorded this song by paying attention to his voice. This is the perfect combination of teenager Pac’s rapping style, which got a little sharpened up as he got older, with his mature lyrics that are way ahead of his age, his time and his elders. Pac raps about politics, race wars, poverty, and summarizes his stance on all of those subjects by singing, “I refuse to be a role model / I set goals, take control, drink out my own bottles,” which also sums up Tupac as a man and as a public figure. Sir Elton John’s extraordinary hook is so harmonious with this confident youngster, it’s like a slap on the face to those who think rap music can not be associated with anything else than streets and gangsters.

4. Life Goes On: Back in the days when predicting your own death and rapping about it wasn’t a trend, 2Pac was actually the first one to do it. “Life Goes On” is not a simple song, it’s about getting used to the deaths around you, making your peace with the concept of living and dying, and getting prepared for your moment. It’s about learning not to fear death, but welcome it with open arms. This song is also a solid piece of evidence that Pac knew his moment was getting closer and closer. And he was never afraid of embracing it.

3. Changes: Predicting a black President for the United States? Yeah, Pac did that, too. This posthumous song is more than enough to tell you why this 5’9” L.A. guy is so important for Hip Hop culture and people affiliated to it. “Changes” is a song where Tupac not only points out what’s wrong with the society, but he also offers logical solutions to all the problems out there, which after 20 years, most communities still struggle to apply. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that 2Pac was in fact, a genius. So unfortunate that we still see no changes, all we see is racist faces.

2. Hit ‘Em Up: In terms of musical quality and lyrical proficiency, angry 2Pac is the best 2Pac you can get. He was the only artist out there to use 5 gun shots straight through his body as a motivation, smile first and then record the best diss track ever made in the history of music. It would literally take hundreds of hours to analyze each and every line of the song, but all those lines and words had one thing is common: They were fearless. No nicknames, no implications, no nothing. Real G’s don’t need any of that and Pac was as real as they get. They really felt the wrath of a menace, he hit ‘em up!

1. Only God Can Judge Me: So what can be better than the best diss track to ever be recorded? May it be a song that is so significant for the history of Hip Hop that it was covered by thousands of artists? Or a song so powerful that its name became one of the most used tattoo designs all around the world after it was released? “Only God Can Judge Me” is Hip Hop at its finest, and it symbolizes how far rap music can go. It’s also like a summary of 2Pac’s life. His strengths, his weaknesses, his beliefs, his sorrows, his dreams and everything else you need to know about the guy are all in those 5 minutes. Rest in peace, Tupac. You are and always will be a hero.

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