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Thursday, 10 November 2011

All Eyez On Him: An Inspiring Reflection

All Eyez on me:  was the double platinum album released by Tupac Shakur in 1996. This album would be his most successful. This album would also be his last before his murder. This album was, what I believe, the Death of Tupac Amaru Shakur.
When Tupac shot to fame way back in 1991 with his first official album, 2pacalypse now, I was three years old. Unfortunately I didn’t understand Hip hop at that age, in fact music in general did not seem to excite my ears! I never really had a song growing up that really had an effect on my life, but I do remember my mother playing Simply Red and Bon Jovi in the mornings. So I suppose the effect they might have had on me is to share an opinion on them as artists, and to me, now, I think Jon Bon Jovi and Simply Red are Magnificent!
When the boy band era came around some years later, the likes of Backstreet boys and five?  for me, they shared music to my ears. I liked them two bands in particular. As for Love of music, I was not there yet.  Around the year 2000/01 was when I first appreciated an artist before his music.
 Tupac Shakur had been dead almost 5 years by then.  I had a lot of catching up to do, as I was one of those people who knew the famous song “Changes”, so any knowledge of Tupac after that was out the window!

From 1992 onwards, Tupac Shakur released 4 successful albums.  2pacalypse now - Strictly for my Niggaz – Me against the world – All eyez on me (2 disc).

The album was released in 1996. It was inspired by hatred, love and betrayal. Tupac Shakur was serving a two year jail sentence for false accusations involving a female fan in a hotel room. This was a rape charge he strongly denied in the year before his death.

A deal was agreed with Death Row records owner Suge Knight to bail out Tupac Shakur on the condition he signs a contract with them, the agreement was to record three records, the first being  All eyes on me. The contract, signed upon his release was according to some, “A deal with the devil”, the devil being Suge Knight of Death Row Records.
This was the album I came upon some years later. It introduced me to Tupac and what he was about. It also introduced me to real rap music, the meaning of it and the path Tupac took to success, as well as numerous artists in the rap game at that stage.

The first song on the album, “Ambition as a rider”, was an instant classic which was later moved to the two disc greatest hits album released in 1997. The song still sends shivers down my spine as Tupac shakur describes his reputation, reincarnation and his wish to have things his way.  My murderous lyrics woke up the spirits of the thugs before me stay off the block evading cops cause I know they coming for me”  The song is a great intro to an album that clearly affected his views on society after his stint in prison.

“Skandalous “ featuring recently deceased rapper Nate Dogg, touches on untrustworthy women, asking you to reconsider who you trust because fame and money can get you into a hell of a lot of trouble, hence the charge Tupac was convicted previous.

The album was the next generation of rap music. Its originality was genius and no one dared talk about the stuff Tupac did in his two disc masterpiece.
Tupac’s signing to Death Row records unfortunately showed his greed, and greed definitely played a part in the album. He knew all eyes were on him, and he would let no one bring him down again, even though he himself knew that this might be his last album. His paranoia was blowing up as well as his head.  My own mama say im thugged out, my shit be poppin out the record store as if it was a drug house”  (You Can’t see me) .

A personal favourite of mine, is one that I can’t relate to in any way, but one that hit me. “Trading war Stories”  is a song featuring his group, the Outlawz. This song defines Tupac and what he is about. He describes his fight with society, jealousy,  gang members and the hard knock life of growing up. It’s not meant to be a sad heartfelt song, but when I listen to it, I get emotional.
Like a lot of his songs I just think, its a brutal world when someone who found so much success from growing up in poverty can be just taken away in the blink of an eye. “Now can your mind picture, a thug nigga drinking hard liquor, this ghetto life has got me catching up to god quicker, who thought all I need was a hair trigger semi automatic mack eleven just to scare niggas!”

Tupac Shakur always had a sensitive side to his lyrics, and that is how a lot of his classics were formed. He expressed his passion for women and children on the album and a fair society for all cultures. He learned from the great Malcom X and Martin Luther King. His knowledge is heard through his music and read through his poetry.  “Wonder why they call you bitch” is a beautiful song aimed at lower class black women, who get treated badly for all the wrong reasons, but sometimes bring it on themselves. In this song Tupac pleads with the women to hear him out and listen to the reason, that most of them are indeed labelled by most rap artists as Bitches.
See he said you were sleazy? Even easy sleeping around for what you need, see its your thing and you can shake it how you wanna, give up free or making money on the corner, don’t be bad play the game, get mad at change then you wonder why these mothafuckers call you names, I can see ya looking for a way out? It’s okay I can see you in a stray there’s a way out.”

Another Example of Tupac’s sensitive side, an iconic song, “I ain’t mad at ya” is based on the appreciation Tupac shows towards a friend or someone who has moved on and left the ghetto to pursue better things, and someone who lives the life, money, drugs and women don’t live the perfect life and does all come to an end eventually,  giving Tupac inspiration to consider a better life, away from gang life and petty ghettos.  “It seems my homey is a changed man, hit the pen and no sinning is the game plan, when I talk about money all you see is the struggle when I tell you im living large you tell me it’s trouble, congratulations on the wedding, I hope your wife know, she got a player for life and that’s no bull shitting!”

Rather than Tupac’s vision on gang life and poverty, this album, like many, also gives the time to reflect on Love and every day affairs. Example of his love towards certain characters is “Dear Mama”(Greatest Hits), which is a personal favourite for most who appreciate their mother,” Neva call you Bitch again” (Better Dayz)  an amazing song directed as an apology to women who were taken advantage of.

“Mamas Just a little girl “(Better Dayz) is a beautiful story describing his own mother and the struggle she went through.  Then there is “Changes”, a popular one even to people unfamiliar with tupac’s work, this song goes down a treat. The concept of this song is brilliant as Tupac pleads for a change in American society.

The All eyez on me album started it all for me. It inspired me to learn more about Tupac. I went on to read his poetry, biographies and movies.  He was a great writer and actor. His acting and writing has inspired a tremendous amount of rappers to follow in his path to success. Fans will always argue over Tupac’s best album. This one was most successful in gross and the charts. But to compare it to everything Tupac has done is a tough one.

The release of the album in 1996 certainly made Tupac, but also killed him. His paranoia showed in the album as well in interviews leading up to his death.  There is no doubt in my mind that Tupac wanted out of Death Row records after the album release, he just didn’t know how. He had several unreleased songs tied in with Suge Knight at Death Row records. Tupac had ambitions to set up his own Record label and take all his unreleased songs with him.  Unfortunately Suge Knight knew of Tupac’s desire to leave the label. I believe, like many, that Suge would in no way have let Tupac leave after the money the album brought to his record label.

When Tupac shakur was gunned down on the Las Vegas strip in 1996, Death row got all the rights to tupac’s songs. They got just what they wanted.  Thankfully in the end, Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur fought and won the rights back for most of Tupac’s songs and has went on to release a further 6 albums containing all new Material by the man himself.

Tupac Shakur believed in his paranoia and saw his death coming. The guy was a genius in preparing a legacy before his time had come. He wanted to live on through his music, and that, to this day what is happening. That contract he signed with the devil back in 1996 proved to be a fatal move....but like Bob Marley, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, Tupac Shakur will remain forever.

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