In the spirit of the late great Tupac Shukar, I felt it was only natural to celebrate some of his best work. Now often during a radio 2pac mix or video dedication, the playlist is the usual “I Get Around,” and “Keep Your Head Up” type songs, so I’ve decided to shed some light on the B-side type records that also made Pac a legend in the culture. So here they are….

***Honorable Mention***  

If I Die Tonite

The legendary producer Easy Mo Bee blessed Pac with a beat that could keep up with a rapid-fire flow that answered critics who claimed he (Pac) was more passion than lyrics.  The opening line “They say p***y and paper is poetry power and pistols/Plotting on murdering muthf*****s before they get you,” is as about as complex of a tongue twist as it is lethal. 

5) Me And My Girlfriend

Sorry but this isn’t the radio-friendly love song that brought us Hip Hop supreme couple Jay-Z and Beyonce. The original is not Pac stating his admiration for a woman but professing his love for a gun. The background guitar plays like a Carlos Santana song in a Robert Rodriguez movie. Pac’s vocal tone is borderline craze and passion when he says “Pick you up when you was 9, started out my life of crime wit you/Bought you some shells when you turned 22.” Pac’s genius was the ability to create a melody that was birthed by seduction and violence that describes the allure of power one can feel when a gun becomes their livelihood.

4) The Streetz R Deathrow

Any glamorization one may have of the Hood is beaten away by a reality baseball bat on this song. Pac’s rhymes are a combination of the life he experienced and witnessed when he speaks on the stressful toll of living in inner city poverty. The American Dream seems like a joke with lines like “I’m tired of being a nice guy/Been poor all my life and don’t know quite why.” The track is an open letter to America that represents the voice of the forgotten who are lost; while ready to explode with unchecked depression and frustration.

3) Violent 

2Pac’s freshman album 2PACALYPSE NOW was lead by the heartfelt track “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” which over years has overshadowed the other songs that showcase his not yet polished potential. “Violent” is the soundtrack for every Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Eric Garner tragedy. Back when storytelling in Hip Hop was a must, “Violent” tells the story of how 2pac and a friend strike back at police officers who beat them. All blue authority should take heed to Pac’s lyrical tale of what can happen to overly aggressive police when the victim is fed up. 

2) Ambitionz Az A Ridah

Even to a non-2Pac fan, the background piano tune added with the West Coast baseline that Daz Dillinger provides on the beat is undeniable. Pac was fresh out on bail for alleged rape case and survived being shot multiple times so his level of “Giving no f**ks” was at an all-time high. The song represented Pac’s newly formed outlook on life that was an emotion mixture of hurt and betrayal, so when he rapped “My attitude is f**k it/Because muthaf***s love it,” it was a believable direct punch in the gut that represented all his fury.

Pac has been on record to say that his fourth album “Me Against The World” will always be the favorite, but one can argue that “So Many Tears” is the best song possibly of his career. 2Pac is the absolute best at displaying the coexistence of vulnerability and strength on the song. He is more Poet than MC when he speaks as a tormented soul who delivers an explanation-in-rhyme to God. Pac speaks on how the burden of carrying the weight of the world can take a toll on the spirit. On the hook when Pac raps “God, I lost so many peers, and shed so many tears,” he sounds more like a wise ancient old man rather than a young early 20-something. Each verse is a story within itself that digs deep in the dark part of life that Hip Hop in present time no longer visits.