Review Summary: After death, after my last breath, when will I finally get to rest?
He’s an inspiring man, an iconic man, and a talented man. Tupac Shakur epitomized what hip-hop was trying to do; make it political, make it relevant and above all make it funky. “Me Against The World” was his magnum opus, a brilliant example of rhythm and rhyme intertwined. This point in time could be called his “prime”, and ironically he was in prison but that didn’t hurt his beautiful mind. Pac’s focus and determination is evident on “Me Against The World” within every song, and while it isn’t perfect, it’ll maintain his perfect legacy for years to come.
Shakur’s poetic ability is no stranger to this album; lyrically it rivals the masterful performance on his debut “2Pacalypse Now” and from time to time, surpasses it by far. He’d already lived on the West Coast for a while before this was released and his gangsta-rap mentality left a permanent mark on his lyrics, but thankfully didn’t encompass everything because this guy was a poet at heart, and not necessarily a gang-banging hoodlum as some like to believe. And while you will encounter this aggressive side of Pac on almost all of these songs, you’ll be able to hear his intellectual side go to work too, and just as well. So from the hard-hitting G-Rap jamz of “If I Die 2nite” to any loving mother’s anthem “Dear Mama” 2Pac uses his talent very well, and its clear that his young, ballet-dancing art-school attending self is trying to break the mold. Sure, he could be considered an innovative artist; he had more than an “ear for a beat” but was groove savvy like no other mainstream rapper of his time. His emotion was more than enough to bring these smooth beats to life; he usually opted to include great singers to give these songs a professional feel, for example, choruses. He revolutionized West Coast rap, which was used to such mottos as “Bitches Ain’t ***” and memorable quotes like “Cruisin’ down the street in my 6-4, jockin’ the bitches, slappin’ the hoes”. Pac gave ghetto Californians something they could show the whole world, and the whole world responded nicely enough – turning Tupac into one of the most revered artists in the history of American music, and if not, one of the most recognizable.
“Me Against The World” is a wonderful storyteller, by the way. “It Ain’t Easy” takes us through the life of a broke, yet extremely passionate person preaching about the struggle that goes on during hardships. We’re told of friends dying, suicidal thoughts, poverty, enemies, among other things and a decent dose of drug use to escape the sorrows of someone who lives in the thick concrete jungle. Other songs like “Lord Knows” and the title track share this common theme…common, but powerful nevertheless. Tupac confesses his unconditional love for Afeni Shakur, his mom and endless supporter on “Dear Mama”. Reminisces of the “golden age of hip-hop” on “Old School”, a time so many long to see again, to this day. It’s all so real, and while it may not be exactly profound
its easy to see Pac’s understanding of people around him and the things that cause them trouble. He had an insight he shared through his art and was unpretentious, straightforward and disciplined. That’s a word that does his legacy justice, when you think about his convictions from the good to the potentially dangerous he was obviously an earnest man with mountains of self-confidence. Some say that his enthusiastic attitude is what got him killed; could have been a jealousy-ridden, angsty fan who cowers in the face of success and fame, or a political disparity turned militant. We'll never know, but released rather soon before he died, "Me Against The World" paints a picture of a man destined to die young, a spine-tingling, enlightening experience.
As an album this one delivers a fascinating exploration through Tupac’s troubled and fervent mind. A life cherished by so many given a voice over some of the grooviest jams the man ever rapped with. “Me Against The World” is a seamless stream of ideas and music, but as I mentioned before it isn’t perfect. Well, you may argue that not many albums are and that’s true, but why isn’t this one? He’s supposedly the greatest rapper of all time, or at least so far. Despite these massive claims he can grow tedious, especially to the casual listener. His raps are genuine, however they tend to be the same kind of genuine. But all in all, its not a broken record. Its not unlistenable, its just much better in smaller doses. But when this record is good, its great. Some of Tupac’s finest lyrical work resides here, and that’s what he was best known for (either that or the piano loop on Changes).
To this day, “Me Against The World” remains not only relevant but pleasing in its musical prowess. The album makes for good company on a hot summer day alone or on a cool beach at dusk with friends. Tupac Shakur was a multi-dimensional artist if there ever was one, a thrill to experience. I suggest you find this record.