Home » How 2Pac made dichotomy iconic with ‘Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z’ and its two biggest hits

How 2Pac made dichotomy iconic with ‘Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z’ and its two biggest hits

by The Grio

Rapper Tupac Shakur poses for photos backstage after his performance at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois in March 1994. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Tupac Shakur was as famous for the contradictions in his music as he was for the music itself. In one breath, the late MC known as 2Pac created cautionary tales like “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” or a tribute to his mother with “Dear Mama.” In another breath, he could just as easily churn out songs like “All Bout U,” “Hit ‘Em Up,” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” glorifying hedonistic behavior, vengeful manipulation and violence, and misogynistic dismissiveness.

The world got to know 2Pac from his affiliations with Digital Underground and his acclaimed 1991 solo debut, “2Pacalypse Now.” But the unfiltered, angry, cynical, playful 2Pac the world remembers today is the one heard on 1993’s “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,” released 30 years ago today.

Before 2Pac, hip-hop had seldom seen an MC that wrote and rhymed with such unveiled in-real-time emotion. Like most transcendent Black American artists, 2Pac’s catalog contains songs with a wide breadth of themes. But where 2Pac stands alone is the blatant, unchecked polarity of his messaging within an album.

2Pac TheGrio

Many artists have been able to record songs that were left turns from each, but never veered too far off the path. Bob Marley was able to have “Concrete Jungle” and “Kinky Reggae” on the same album, and N.W.A. went from “F–k Tha Police” to “Express Yourself.”

In 2Pac’s case, such differing perspectives and viewpoints that occur within a single body of work were wildly opposite from each other. On the surface, it seems like hypocrisy or a lack of moral foundation. Under the surface, you realize this was a 21-year-old man,…

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