In honor of the new Tupac biographical drama hitting the theaters, I thought I would make a list of his top 10 most influential songs. When I thought of this idea, I thought it’d be really cool since the movie just came out and people would be reminded of his greatness once again. Little did I know that this would be an adventure. Keep in mind that these songs are influential in their own way.
Pac has a HUGE music catalog filled with SO many different types of vibes.
Sifting through all his tracks and finding the right ones wasn’t very hard considering how much I already knew his songs. I was a 2Pac lunatic in Jr. High school.
Pac was the ONLY thing I played on my first generation black iPod nano (low-key I stole it from my sister but hey she never really noticed!).
Enough of my nonsense.
Let’s cut straight into this LEGENDARY list. Coming in at number 10…….
#10 – Runnin’ (Dyin’ to Live)
Album: Tupac: Resurrection Soundtrack
The 2Pac and Biggie beef was one of the hottest entertainment topics of the mid 1990’s.
Who killed Pac? Who killed Biggie? To this day, no one is certain.
The burning question in the mid 90’s HAD to have been, “What if we got a 2pac and Biggie collab before the beef?”. We’re talking about two of the hottest MC’s from each side of the states collaborating. A Tupac and Biggie collab? Come on now that would’ve blew the fuck up without a doubt.
Fast forward to 2003 and the documentary, “Tupac: Resurrection” was just hitting theaters. We might’ve got this beautiful track a little too late, but this song doesn’t fail to deliver the deep, hard, and real lyrics from both Pac and Biggie. The production was done by Eminem and if you really listen to this, it could send chills down your spine. The simple message in this song, “how am I dying to live, when i’m just living to die”, explains how certain lifestyles, have certain consequences.
This song might have been one of the most anticipated posthumous tracks EVER.
It’s THAT powerful.
Take a listen and indulge.
#9 – Trapped
Album: 2Pacalypse Now
Okay this is a real throwback. This track’s from “2Pacalypse Now”, back from before I was even born, 1991. Most of the lyrics on that album were written back when he was a young, vocal, visionary for the African American community.
Trust me, listen to this album and you’ll understand how politically woke this man was by the age of 20. In “Trapped”, Pac talks about the brutal and real life experiences he’s witnessed from his neighborhood as well as what he himself has experienced. The song is specifically targeting the law enforcement and their wrong doings that have been going unpunished.
Let’s pause and not forget what happened in 1991.
March of 1991, is when the world witnessed the police brutally abusing a taxi driver known as, Rodney King.
You get where i’m going with this.
Young 2Pac became a voice with this album and more specifically with this song.
“They got me trapped, can barely walk the city streets without a cop harassing me, searching me, then asking my identity”.
This line alone speaks to so many levels that I can just leave it at that.
#8 – Life Goes On
Album: All Eyes On Me
Whenever I hear this song play, it reminds me of a rough time for my friends and I in high school. This is a song that glorifies life and warns you about the many different curveballs that life itself, can and will throw at you.
This song is off the legendary album, “All Eyes on Me”. Pac talks about his homies and how no matter what happens in life, it doesn’t stop for anyone and keeps moving. He raps about how he envisions his own funeral on this track and explains how he would much rather have people celebrating his life rather than mourn it.
That’s exactly what, “Life Goes on” is.
A celebration and glorification of life.
This track is a comforting song in tough situations. Situations such as when you have your head down but know you need to keep moving. It makes you think of the brighter side of life and instead of mourning a lost life, you celebrate it.
There’s not much else to say about this classic.
#7 – Changes
Album: Greatest Hits
Changes is one of the most brutally honest tracks of the last 20 years. The song simply states how fucked up our society really was. This song dropped in 1998, and the issues that Pac raps about in this song, are very well still occurring.
There’s not many rappers who would sacrifice, and even risk, their platform to get so real about the numerous problems about life in the Land of the “Free”. This song touches on issues regarding, racism, poverty, suicide, the drug war, and abuse.
Pac thoroughly explains how being black in America is a severe disadvantage and explains the different types of struggles he and his peers face on a daily basis. He talks about how he copes with the unfair brutality from police and how even his homies will try to take the easy way out by selling drugs.
The first line of almost every verse in this song begins with, “I see no changes”.
To this day, much hasn’t changed and we’re still, as a whole, a fucked up society.
Pac never lied.
#6 – Thugz Mansion
Album: Better Dayz
“Thugz mansion” may be one of the most reflective and divine tracks 2Pac has ever released. There’s a couple different versions to this song, but I think Anthony Hamilton on the remix may be one of my personal favorite versions.
This song touches the gangsters and what Pac views as their heaven. A place where gangsters and thugs go to after they pass away, filled with no worries and evils. Pac is pretty much fed up with all the bullshit he goes through in his life and wants to go to a place where he and his homies could just chill and not be bothered by nonsense.
(Don’t forget all the court cases this dude was dealing with)
This track glorifies what freedom should really be like to Pac. The concept of the song alone, is incredible and the lyrics to this song will grab your attention right away. I’m sure all the modern day thugs still ride out to this song and are wishing for their peaceful place like Thugz Mansion.
I don’t know about ya’ll, but Thugz Mansion sounds dope as fuck.
#5 – Ghetto Gospel
Album: Loyal To the Game
“Hit em wit a little ghetto gospel”
Pac really out does himself on this one. The lyrics are completely honest and you can hear the passion in his voice while he raps about crack addicts, homeless people, and the youth who are dealing with rough childhoods.
This track is off his ninth studio album, “Loyal to the Game”, which was released in 2004. When you think of classic 2pac, nobody thinks of this album. This album was home to more of a modern sound. Eminem’s production is consistently all throughout this album and you can hear the Shady records vibe in all the songs.
2Pac is telling us how the streets of his hood are and how the world needs to get it together. He’s calling out for society to find peace on the streets before we can even attempt to find peace through wars.
This is one of the few tracks on the album that people can listen to and feel enlightened by the end of it. The truth Pac spills out is painful and can really help us learn about the issues we still have in this world.
Hell, these types of issues will probably never go away.
#4 – Hit Em’ Up
Album: Greatest Hits
Okay, i’m sure everyone is wondering why the fuck this song is on here as one of 2pac’s greatest influential tracks. Let’s be real, beef in rap music is apart of the culture. Without it, where would the genre even be?
This is arguably one of the GREATEST diss songs ever created.
Diss tracks are straight ruthless, vulgar, demeaning, and threatening. Pac made sure this song had ALL of those aspects…and then some. 2Pac took diss tracks to a whole other level with this. I mean, he opens the song yelling about how he fucked Biggie’s wife…
RUTHLESS, FAM. STRAIGHT COLD-BLOODED.
Pac even went to another level towards the end of the track.
“All y’all motherfuckers, fuck you, die slow motherfucker! My .44 make sure all yo kids don’t grow!”
If any artist is out here making diss tracks but isn’t trying to make it as HARD as this, then give up. “Hit em’ up” is the OG diss track that is un-fuckwittable and should be considered as the main example of how to execute a diss track so well.
Yeah, this shit is scary, but effective.
#3 – California Love
Album: Greatest Hits
The anthem of the greatest state in the country.
Sunny, warm weather with palm trees for shade and the scent of a beach nearby.
This song is the classic track to have bumpin’ in your car throughout the summer.
Pac was all about the west side and made sure people knew about his true love for the sunshine state. This track is still played on the radio and featured in movies all the time to this day.
With all the love that Pac and Dr. Dre showed for California in this song, they both found a way to make sure their lyrics were real and had a dope flow to vibe to.
What made this song even more of a big deal, was that this was the first song Pac released after getting out of prison. It was the first single off of his double disc album, “All Eyes on Me”, which many people consider his greatest album. So, you can say the anticipation was at a really high level.
Pac and Dre did their thing and ended up dropping one of the hottest songs ever created. If you know this track, then you know for a fact that it’s a classic.
If you don’t know it, then I’m more than convinced you’ve been living under a rock.
#2 – Dear Mama
Album: Me Against The World
“Ain’t no women aliiiive that can take my mama’s place”
This is the one and only track that Pac penned for his mother. The honest and touching lyrics of this song, makes it so any listener can vibe to it, all while thinking about their love for their mothers.
You won’t go another mother’s day without hearing this song on the radio.
That’s a fact.
“Dear mama” is a song for the ages. Throughout Pac’s whole career, he was viewed as the thug, who raps about fucking bitches, drinking hennessey, and taking revenge on his enemies.
When you hear Pac on this song, you’ll hear the most heart-warming lyrics that he dedicated to his mama.
“Even as a crack fiend mama, you always was a black queen, mama”
Straight up, this might be the realest line on the whole track. Pac is aware of all the troubles his mom had to deal with while raising him and through everything, he still had unconditional love for her.
This song can touch the heart’s of many people. Whether you have a great relationship with your mother, or even if you don’t see eye to eye with your mama.
“Dear Mama” is the song to make you reminisce on your child hood and remind you of how much work your mom put in for you.
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate our mothers.
#1 – Keep Ya Head Up
Album: Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
2Pac’s release of this track expressed how much he really glorified and loved women. Pac dealt with a ton of controversy and scrutiny in his career about how his lyrics were really demeaning to women.
One listen of this song, and you’ll hear the softer, and more uplifting side of 2Pac.
The lyrics in this song are all about being positive and making sure women are given the respect that they deserve. There’s been tons of songs that were created by females which are respectful towards women. The difference here is that there’s only been a handful of male rappers who have made tracks showing their respect towards women.
This is where I believe 2Pac broke the barrier and was ahead of his time.
Women make the world go round, and deserve to be glorified in all types of ways. Pac delivers on his message to women and rasied the bar to rappers who thought they were so “real”.
There’s a reason the planet is called Mother Earth.