Being that we just past the 20th anniversary of his death, the powers-that-be here at Swurv Radio wanted me to review Tupac’s “All Eyes on Me”. That seemed fitting enough since it was the last album he dropped while living and was his highest selling album. However, I felt it was more important to take it back to his first release, “2Pacalypse Now”.
When Interscope decided to take a chance on the twenty-year old former background dancer/rapper, few expected Tupac Shakur to hit so hard on a street level. His presence demanded attention from the beginning. “2Pacalypse Now” is a tour guide detailing the injustices of the underprivileged side of society. Racism, poverty, black on black crime and police brutality are all addressed in 2Pac’s debut album. He quickly let everyone know what he wasn’t playing games with his first single, “Brenda’s Got a Baby”. This all too real story may be fictionalized but it speaks on a tragedy that happens far too often. “Violent” is a gem with a ‘Pac detailing a dramatized story involving racial profiling and police brutality. This song sparked a huge debate over its content which involves shoot outs with police. Government officials, including then-Vice President Dan Quayle, used “Violent” as an example to ban gangster rap. However, if people listen to the first verse, they will know that he is not condoning shooting cops but rather telling a story about people claiming that blacks are violent. “Trapped” is another song about the disempowerment of African Americans. “Soldier Story” is an impactful gem about a brother doing time in the penitentiary. Always a chameleon, ‘Pac will never be pigeon-holed as just a conscious rapper. “If My Homie Calls” is a happy banger. Staying true to his Digital Underground roots, he enlisted Shock G to produce three tracks; the best being “Rebel of the Underground”. (A formula he would continue for his later hit “I Get Around”).
“2Pacalypse Now” was released in November 1991, almost six months before the L.A. riots. Unfortunately, the topics 2Pac talked about back then still plagues black communities around the country. What we had with “2Pacalypse Now” was a foreshadowing of actions that will happen if the mistreatment of African Americans continued. This was not the first album to fire warning shots at the masses. Boogie Down Production, Public Enemy, and N.W.A. all gave heed to the tyrant oppressors that blacks are set up to fail in the current state of society. Dan Quayle once said that there is no place for “2pacalypse Now” in this society. That is like telling Colin Kaepernick he is not an American. Now in 2016, it is sad to say that “2pacalypse Now” is still as relevant as it was twenty-five years ago. No more warning shots. Now it is time to do something about it.