February 4, 2010

Reader Review: 2Pac - Me Against The World (March 14, 1995)

(Today, A.R. Marks provides a second take on 2Pac's Me Against The World, an album that took me forever to actually get to. In fact, it took me receiving this write-up in my inbox to finally get motivated to give it a spin. So, for those of you who are appalled that I haven't gotten to your favorite albums yet, let that be a lesson to you. Anyway, enjoy yet another Pac review.)

I don't necessarily always agree with Max when it comes to what sounds good and what doesn't (something he'll probably be quick to point out I don't have to do, and neither do either of the two readers out there [side note: I always picture the infamous “two readers” as the old heckling film critics in the balcony on The Muppet Show]). However, I did find empathy with his statement that he likes any 2Pac music that doesn't spout off at the mouth, like the types of "bitches" that thug-ass gangsters like to screw in their spare time. So I took it upon myself to throw Max a bone by reviewing a 2Pac album that doesn't suck, which may bring him more Shakur-fanatic readers who are otherwise turned off by his reviews of the man's material.

Which brings me to Me Against the World, the only (if you didn't hear it, I said only) 2Pac record that I have ever felt the need to own. The album came in the midst of a clusterfuck of bullets, media controversy, fan adoration, and imprisonment for a rape charge—and this wasn't even the most controversial point of his career. This was also at a time when he and the Bad Boy camp had been on friendly terms, a fact punctuated by Easy Mo Bee's inclusion and the overall Ready to Die-esque sound of the album. All the controversy shows its influence, especially considering that his former friend, Stretch, was completely removed from the final cut of the album. (Stretch was also murdered execution-style, exactly one year to the day of Shakur's 1995 shooting, but that must just be a coincidence, right?)

While this is slightly more impressive than most intros, it's mainly just the jaw-dropping effect of listening to media coverage of all the different shit the person formerly known as Parrish Crooks got himself into. That effect could get old after not too long.

Heads right into possibly my favorite song on the album, and the one I tend to point to when people say 2Pac couldn't rap very well. One of the two Easy Mo Bee-produced songs, and some of the producer's best work, I should say. Pac also rips the fuck out of the beat solo, which helps.

A pleasant, jazzy instrumental, this is an appealing mix of east and west coast sounds from the time period. Pac goes on to rap more thought-provoking and (gasp!) technically impressive lyrics; it's also the first appearance on one of his albums of any of the rappers who would eventually make up the Outlawz; I always liked Yaki Kadafi (the first rapper after Pac) and Hussein Fatal (who doesn't make an appearance, as he was never in Dramacydal), but the rest were interchangeable to me.

Shock G, the guy that gave 2Pac his first shot in the industry, provides a pretty entertaining instrumental, but I always preferred Easy Mo Bee's original, which also featured Stretch.

The second of Mo Bee's contributions, this is another highlight of the record: 2Pac's honest appeal to the opposite sex about trying to be faithful while touring. (The sheer amount of women that 2Pac apparently fucked on the road makes one question why he would need to rape anybody, but I guess the jury didn't think of that). Makes better use of a singing Erick Sermon vocal sample than Sermon did in the first place.

6. YOUNG N----Z
A nice, cruising instrumental in step with the rest of the album so far; 2Pac takes the point of view of a young hustler trying to survive, although he did drop the "indo/window" couplet that would become repeated several million times throughout his catalog.

The first misstep; over a forgettable pseudo-reggae beat, this is the exact song on this album where 2Pac begins to repeat his previous subject matter, a theme that would start to permeate his music later on. It also features Lady Levi, whose bombaclat bloodclot Jamaican talk wears thin, and Richie Rich, a completely forgettable West Coast rapper.

Somewhat back in step, this song is pretty upbeat and entertaining, but not essential.

Needless to say, a highlight, and one of 2Pac's most popular songs; this introspective song was the single that drove Me Against the World to number one on the charts and fueled claims by fans that 2Pac was one of the most down-to-earth, soulful rappers of the generation.

A pretty low-key, repetitive song that could have benefited from some remixing by someone who knew what the fuck they were doing.

A much, much less engaging version of “Temptations.”

Another Pac classic. Damn, this sequencing seems pretty random, doesn't it? Over a euphoric beat of the style that apparently only that time period of hip-hop could produce, Shakur waxes poetic about his influences and the rappers he loved growing up, sounding very genuine about his love of the art form.

The other single that gripped the world's attention, although the reason for this one eludes me completely.

And, true to form, comes another standout track. This one shows 2Pac's trademark paranoia had manifested in his music a full year and a half before his morbid instincts were proven right.

This song might be referred to as “the other song featuring Dramacydal,” and there might be a reason for it. That reason might be the boring-ass beat, the shitty-ass hook and the dumbed-down delivery from the main star of the album.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I tend to be a fan of 2Pac music where more than two bars work consecutively to relate a concept. Me Against The World does that and more: it recalls a time when 2Pac wasn't the egotistical asshole who beat up the Hughes brothers or claimed he'd fucked Biggie's wife. Dr. Dre's one-time right hand man Bruce Williams wrote a book about working at Death Row, in which he observed that 2Pac was a guy who could turn wack beats into hits; to an extent that holds true here, as some of the beats are truly forgettable, but not as bad as they had been before or would be again.

BUY OR BURN?: Definitely buy this record. It could have benefited from some editing, and the inclusion of some tracks that didn't make the cut, but overall it's one of the Pac fanatics' most beloved albums for a reason.

BEST SONGS: “If I Die 2nite,” “Me Against the World,” “Temptations,” “Dear Mama,” “Old School,” “Death Around the Corner.”

B-SIDES TO TRACK DOWN: Easy Mo Bee only contributed two tracks, but recorded several other songs for 2Pac in 1995 that didn't make the cut, including the original “Runnin' From the Police” with The Notorious B.I.G., Stretch, and Dramacydal; the original “So Many Tears,” featuring Stretch; and “God Bless the Dead”, which popped up on 2Pac's Greatest Hits CD (this song also starts off “Rest in peace to my motherfuckin' n---a Biggie Smalls,” which confused me to no end, until I realized he was talking about a deceased DJ whose nickname Biggie borrowed in tribute).

-A.R. Marks

(Okay, including the b-sides was a pretty nice touch. Be sure to leave some comments for A.R. Marks below. And if you're interested, here's a link to my original write-up.)


  1. diamond d (Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop)

  2. Nice review, definitely agree with it, Pac's best album though I like all of his albums when he was alive (most of them Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. though).

    And to Max, how do we submit reviews? I'm planning to put up something.

  3. P_C - Just drop me a line at the e-mail in the top right of the page.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. Awesome.


    Best music production on the web.
    All you rappers out there, this is the first step.
    Produce beats, instrumentals,etc.
    Check it out and make quality sounding music!

  5. Yes, a mention of 'God Bless The Dead'! Thought I'd never see that on this site, as it's only on the Greatest Hits record. Even though he has a good number of songs that are admittedly better, it's always been my favourite Pac song EVER.

    Good review.

  6. Much more fair review than Max' one. Big ups for givin' props for Easy Mo Bee.

    Original "Runnin'" was released on One Million Strong compilation the same year.

  7. I love "Old School".
    How about reviewing Makaveli, Max?

  8. i actually prefer All Eyez On Me, but this is my second favorite album from 2pac, just before Makaveli. Don't agree with you on Richie Rich, definitely not forgettable. His voice makes him stand out from your everyday rapper. A true Bay Area legend. Snoop cited him as a major inspiration and got his 213 group name off Richie Rich's 415(which isnt original at all i agree haha), just like Biggie cited Too $hort as a legend. U should listen to his song "Do G'z Get To Go To Heaven" if you don't know it, there's a video for it and it's dedicated to Pac, very heavy production (from Mike Mosley, who produced Heavy N The Game and Can U Get Away) and good lines.

    otherwise nice review

  9. this is the best

  10. How ironic is it that when u cited that most of the album takes kind of a east-coast backdrop thanks to easy-mo-bee that this happened to be 2pac's favorite album... even after 2pac (at points) went out and said fuck the whole east-coast! But this has got to be his best album by far and even tho it's got some cliche acts in a few tracks, those tracks don't stand out to be memorable, most of the tracks on all-eyes on me were just that. This album to me is spectacular! right behind Don Killuminati.. and all eyes on me right after that.

  11. wow.... when this came out i remember being disappointed in this cd as a follow up to "Strictly 4 My N.i.g.g.a.z."; maybe i'll have to give it another listen. thanks guys

  12. KING KONGJune 27, 2010

    lol you are so wrong on 'heavy in the game' it isnt even funny.

    2pacs second verse is one of the greatest ever. stop being a hater!

  13. AnonymousJune 21, 2011

    Nobody can ever understand a person like Tupac Shakur, but we all know one important thing - this is the most honest person to ever touch the music. Where most musicians try to show themselves as saints, Tupac stays honest, because he knew no one was perfect. This album is much better then reviewed here. Richie Rich is a rap legend in his own way. Whoever wrote this review did not know what he was doing. If you ever wanted truly to understand Tupac Max, you should have first understood where he came from. This world is filled with too much SHIT and it's pretty hard to write nice things when everybody hits you with hate. And you should know that. "MAX"

  14. @ Anonymous - Nice try, but I didn't write this version of the review. Just as A.R. Marks did, I liked this record and recommend a purchase. But thanks for playing!

  15. Now, I realize that I'm late to the party, but I just thought I'd say my piece. I've read dozens on Tupac reviews these last few days, and it feels like a lot of them are just pointlessly going on about what a messed-up person he was, based on the controversies surrounding him and the tracks he recorded. But it feels like people forget a few things, like that he was only twenty-five years old when he was killed and had only just begun to touch the downright frightening thing that is honestly questioning yourself.
    A guy between twenty and twenty-five, who grew up without a father and whose mother was a crackhead for a long time, who had to look for love among drug-dealers. Who wouldn't have had a hard time trying to rip through the wall of attitude that he constructed in order to escape as relatively unscathed as possible? And doing this while having such a massive sense for social injustice WHILE being surrounded by onhoppers and suck-ups, leading to the kind of controversies that only Pac got regularly dragged into... keep in mind that he was twenty-five years old when he was shot FOR THE SECOND TIME and this time also killed. T.b.c..

  16. Continued.
    Nobody spoke up like Pac did. He didn't only tell of his own experiences or paint pictures of ghetto lives, he went a step farther and said "LEARN from this, DON'T make the mistakes I did and will keep on doing just because I don't yet possess the inner strength to step away from my ego". And remember that even the Vice-President bashed him. It's easy to think that having politicians and an untold number of upset people didn't faze a hardened thug like him, but he was "a man like a bared blade" who was hurt to the same degree as he showed his inner self, and because of this couldn't hide his frustration and thus ended up making even more people into his enemies.
    I'm not sure if there's any real coherent point to this. I'm way too tired to be writing anything, really. But, yeah, that's what I have to say about it. Not sure if this was the right place to say it. Peace.

  17. RazoramonJune 06, 2013

    I like that, thank God for Tupac

  18. the greatest rapper/poet/thug ever!