Understanding The Impact of “All Eyez On Me” 20 Years Later

20 years ago, 2Pac put out one of the most important albums in hip-hop history. It was called “All Eyez On Me”. Being a teenager at the time, I couldn’t tell you that I foresaw this album becoming so big or so important. To be honest, I wasn’t what you would consider a “Pac Fan” and it had nothing to do with Biggie. It had everything to do with lyricism and wordplay.

Pac was great rapper, but he never impressed me lyrically. Very emotional, very real, but creatively it just never spoke to ME in a great way. All that said, this is definitely one of the most important rap albums of the 90’s and hip-hop in general for what it starts and for what will never end.

I remember a time Myself, Kevin and J.J [Dub] were going to run to the Shell Gas Station on Chicago st. Kevin found a leather vest, I believe in his parents closet. He put that on with a wife-beater, shorts and I think some loafers or dress shoes and walked right out the house with us. Dub of course roasted him and called him all kinds of “retarded mugs” but Kev acted like it was just another day.

We end up seeing some girls we know from the neighborhood and they get to laughing and giggling and talking about Kev and his response was “If I was Pac y’all would say this is hot and how fine I am.” The girls agreed and of course you know it leads to a “You Ain’t Pac though” conversation.

In 1996, Pac was the ruler of the hip-hop world and All Eyez On Me was confirmation of that. We had never seen or heard of a Double CD before. We had never heard of a rapper getting shot and living to tell the tale nor did we ever see a rapper go to jail and come out and put out great music upon release.

Although I hate the song to this day, the Mad Max themed “California Love” video is iconic. The uncensored video of “How Do You Want It” was literally years ahead of BET Uncut’s time. You had one man literally put a whole coast on his back and start the now unforgettable ” Throwing up the W” which is 4 fingers up; Two twisted in the middle.

Some of the things I just mentioned are mainstays and timeless actions in hip-hop. That is why this album is classic. Everything around this album embodies change, impact and progression of the culture.

The media made Pac and this album spark plugs to the “East Coast vs West Coast Beef” because of this album. All you have to do is listen and find out it was never really about that. K-Ci and JoJo, Method Man, Redman, Kurupt, Khadafi and Hussein all from the east coast or south east coast and all on this album. Pac was born on the east coast, so again the “East Coast vs West Coast Beef” was started by the irresponsible media outlets of that time and that should never be forgotten.

Pac dies before this album would turn a year old. I often wonder, what other videos would we have gotten if he lived? I wonder, does this album sell 10 million faster because he lives and brings us more visuals? Another album would be put out, but I honestly doubt that happens if Pac lives to see 1997.

I also feel that a remix album could have happened and Biggie would have ended up on a song or two. I say that cause of the remixes and alternate verses of the singles he put out.

So many song titles, lyrics and concepts from this album are still used to attract the masses today. They come in the form of “Pac Homage Lyrics” t-shirts, tattoos, paintings and justifications in arguments.

“Ambitionz Az a Ridah”
“2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”
“Life Goes On”
“Only God Can Judge Me”
“I Ain’t Mad at Cha”
“Shorty Wanna Be a Thug”
“Wonda Why They Call U Bitch”
“Thug Passion”
“Picture Me Rollin'”
“Ratha Be Ya Nigga”
“All Eyez on Me”
“Run tha Streetz”

You haven’t lived a day in hip-hop since Feb 13, 1996 and have not heard any of these songs get quoted or “borrowed” from.

To be honest, it’s impossible to recreate the feeling the moment and the timeless actions that this album creates. As I sit here right now, I’m thinking you maybe get one album like this per decade. All Eyez On Me is one mans hip-hop influence on steroids.

Respect To The Legendary Tupac Shakur.

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