Best Tupac Shakur Rap Songs (About Inequality)
As controversial as Tupac Shakur might be, most 21st-century rappers and hip-hop fanatics give him credit to helping shape West Coast rap and agree that inequality and racial injustice are major themes throughout his discography.
24 years ago today, Tupac Shakur was pronounced dead after being shot six days prior in a drive-by shooting. This case remains unsolved as the gunman’s identity is still unknown. Shakur’s music broke barriers as he paired his persona of a gangster with emotional songs about systematic inequality and the daily struggles of underrepresented communities.
Tupac Shakur, better known as 2Pac, spoke his truth and is considered to be one of the most successful and influential rappers of all time.
2Pac’s Political Upbringing
Although born in New York City, Tupac spent most of his young adulthood moving around the U.S. He transferred to the Baltimore School of the Arts for his junior year of high school and excelled in ballet, theatre, and poetry. When he was 17, his family moved to Marin City, an impoverished suburb of San Francisco. Meanwhile, he continued to perform in plays at Tamalpais High School and develop his rapping skills. In addition to being creative, he took an interest to politics from an early age. While 8 months pregnant with Tupac, his mother Afeni, was a part of the Panther 21 criminal trial in New York. Even, Tupac became a member of the Young Communist League USA while living in Baltimore.
Using His Platform As A Political Activist
2Pac uses music to explore issues like police brutality, gang violence, and the prison system. So, I’ve compiled the top three 2Pac songs that are ahead of their time and tackle different forms of inequality.
“Trapped” is the first single off of 2Pac’s first studio album, 2Pacalypse Now. The track examines police brutality, prison, and the daily discrimination the African American community faces. He raps “Sweated me, hunted me, trapped in my own community / One day I’m gonna bust, blow up on this society / Why did you lie to me? I couldn’t find a trace of equality.”
2. “Keep Ya Head Up”
This smooth song from 2Pac’s sophomore album is dedicated to his mother and other women adapting to hardships around them. Some even refer to this track as a feminist anthem as he touches on single parenthood and leaving abusive relationships. 2Pac raps “You know what makes me unhappy? (What’s that?)
When brothers make babies / And leave a young mother to be a pappy (Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah) / And since we all came from a woman / Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman.”
One of the most well-known and inspirational tracks by 2Pac, of course, comes in as number one. “Changes” combines all of the struggles he faced as a poor Black man in America. 2Pac discusses the war on drugs, gun violence, and racism. This song plays during protests today and the lyrics resonate. He calls for change as he raps “We gotta make a change / It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes / Let’s change the way we eat / Let’s change the way we live / And let’s change the way we treat each other.”