Tupac will forever be one of the most influential rappers of all-time. His songs from decades ago still have an important impact on the music industry and society as a whole.
Tupac, also known as 2Pac, was born originally as Lesane Parish Crooks and had a very political upbringing. His father was part of the Black Panthers party and the two never formed a relationship until he was an adult. As a child, Tupac’s mom worked hard to instill values of pride and having the motivation to do good in the world and even change the world. And as a young budding artist, he developed a complex taste in music—which later transitioned into his songs that had an impact on the rest of the world.
Just at the height of Tupac’s musical career, he was famously murdered on the Las Vegas Strip on September 13, 1996. While he was easily one of the most iconic rappers of the time, he had managed to remain a mystery in terms of his true persona—which is still foggy to this day. But what remains clear is that Tupac’s songs continue to impact us all and have forever changed the face of the musical world. Here are five reasons why.
1. His songs show rappers can have multiple identities.
Tupac came across in his music as a mean thug who was a violent criminal. That transitioned to real life, where one moment he would be cuddling his son and then the next moment spitting at news reporter’s cameras. But then, in one of his last songs “I Ain’t Mad At Cha”, he depicts himself as a literal angel in heaven. His songs proved that rappers can have multiple identities and just because they come across mean doesn’t mean they have a soft side too.
2. His songs changed the way people think about criminals.
There was no hiding that Tupac loved to embrace his thug side. According to Rolling Stones, his album 2Pacalypse Now changed the way people think about crime. Thugs were now seen as musical superstars who people idolized all around the world! He even released something the media called a “pre-prison” album, in which he openly predicts he will eventually get convicted for future crimes! The album known as Me Against The World highlighted that his fans were okay with idolizing criminal music stars and also showed a softer side to criminals, as lyrics on this album show him making amends with his mom and also finding God.
3. His songs changed the way people think about criminals.
Tupac’s songs had an incredible impact on conspiracy theories. The main examples of this were the numerous parallels between his album The Don Killuminati: The Seven Day Theory that was released in 1996. The lyrics on this album have many convinced he survived his Las Vegas murder and that it was even all staged. Twenty years later, the debate continues to this day and not all Tupac fans are convinced he is actually dead!
4. His songs defined THUG LIFE.
Billboard describes Tupac as a “poet, actor, advocate and free-thinker”. Tupac describes himself as living the THUG LIFE. To further support his identity, Tupac even made up an acronym for this, saying that it stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody”. Many of his songs were really brutal and violently descriptive. He would often talk about how disposable females were in his lyrics and had no fear of singing about crimes and violent thoughts he has.
5. His songs highlight social injustices.
Tupac’s songs brought to light the horrible parts of life, such as injustice to young girls dealing with assault in his song “Brenda’s Gotta Baby”. Or in his song “The Trap”, Tupac sings about the oppression that is systematic in black neighborhoods. But it wasn’t just his songs that advocated for a better world. Tupac was also an active member of the Black Panther Party. All of his songs consistently highlighted issues like teen parenthood, poverty, and other extremely controversial topics. ABC News explains that Tupac could craft stories out of anything and all of his songs proved that. He even compared himself to a THUG Shakespeare, having taking a liking to the legend while attending the Baltimore School of Performing Arts. In songs like Brenda’s Got A Baby”, he was able to communicate through an actual story to an epic rap beat. The story was complex but allowed listeners to have an instant connection with it.
5. His songs made having emotions acceptable
Tupac was a true artist, as his songs were able to connect people emotionally. In his song “Holla If You Hear Me”, he had mastered the ability to relate to listeners, evoking emotions of fear, feeling stuck, and dealing with anger. He then also shows his tender side through his song “Dear Mama”, where his lyrics depict the comfort she provided him with and the hardships that faced having your son be a convicted criminal. His songs also show that angry people can be positive too. In his song “Keep Your Head Up” he crafted lyrics that celebrate the black community and females. While his songs were known for being tragic and violent, he left an impact that even the most hardened criminal can have a soft side.
6. His songs impacted the way collaborations in songs happen.
Tupac was all about using music to elevate others too. And he proved that legends never die in music. He famously played around with sampling various artists on his tracks like Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown. For Example, the song Changes incorporates Bruce Hornsby’s lyrics from Range’s The Way it Is, with the chorus of the song having the lyrics “that’s just the way it is, things’ll never be the same” in the background. That tied in with Tupac’s lines about ending racism, war and violence creates a very impactful song. And oh man, the impact that song had on listeners is still prominent today.
7. His songs changed the course of hip hop and rap forever.
Tupac’s songs forever changed the course of hip hop and rap musical genres forever, especially when he released his hit song “Hit Em Up”. The song was the first big banger that had the main motive to diss other rappers on the track, which included East Coast rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Mobb Deep. People went absolutely nuts for it and people began picking sides of the debacle. But the diss became the ultimate end to Tupac’s life, as three months after the song went live, he was murdered in Las Vegas. The insults were real, the feud was real and people ate it up! This song became the representation of a massive divide in the rap world, where the beef would cause an even bigger divide between the East Coast and West Coast rappers. Rap TV explains that “Hit Em Up” had a huge impact on Tupac’s life but an even bigger impact on hip hop and rap genres as a whole.
Tupac’s songs will undoubtedly have an impact on the music industry for eternity. He elevated the way rap told stories of real life, humanized criminals, and showed how various genres could work together to produce powerful music.