“Out on bail fresh, outta jail, California dreamin’/ Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearin’ hoochies screamin’.”
If the ladies loved cool James to the East, then Tupac was the LL of the West. Despite originally hailing from the East Coast, ‘Pac repped hard for Cali. He was the mouthpiece for an entire region, and during his reign, few touched him.
“Keep a vest for protection, from the barrel of a Smith & Wesson/ And all my n—-s in the pen, here we go again/ Ain’t nothin’ separatin’ us from a Mack-10.”
‘Nothing to Lose’
Tupac’s mantra was two simple words: Thug Life. He carried this message to the very end. While this line first appeared on ‘Nothing to Lose,’ it made the greatest impact in the infamous freestyle between ‘Pac and Biggie, which was the last time the two shared a stage together.
“Fingertips on the hips as I dip, gotta get a tight grip, don’t slip/ Loose lips sink ships, it’s a trip/ I love the way she licks her lips, see me jocking/ Put a little twist in her hips ’cause I’m watching.”
‘I Get Around’
It wasn’t always serious in Tupac’s world. The man knew how to party and how to draw the ladies in with his aggressive charisma. His machismo was rarely off-putting and has set the tone for the swag of other rappers currently making radio rotation.
“I heard Brenda’s got a baby, but Brenda’s barely got a brain/ A damn shame, the girl can hardly spell her name.”
‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’
When Tupac parted ways with Digital Underground, his entry into solo music began with discussing his environment. ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ talked of teen pregnancy and real issues happening around him. That level of heightened awareness and social commentary followed ‘Pac throughout his entire career.
“I see no changes, all I see is racist faces/ Misplaced hate makes disgrace for races.”
This line was originally part of ‘I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto’ and retooled for the posthumous ‘Changes.’ ‘Pac spoke years ahead of his time and used music as his podium to voice his thoughts on race relations, infusing his views into his rhymes.
“Grab your glocks when you see Tupac/ Call the cops when you see Tupac/ Who shot me, but you punks didn’t finish/ Now you’re ’bout to feel the wrath of a menace.”
‘Hit Em Up’
When Tupac was shot five times at Quad Studios in New York City, the blame was unfortunately placed upon the late Notorious B.I.G. and his crew. The lyrical product was ‘Hit Em Up,’ one of the most potent and vicious beef-related tracks in hip-hop history.
“I’m not a killa, but don’t push me/ Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to gettin’ p—-.”
Tupac’s alias of Makavelli was a nod to Italian philosopher Machiavelli, who advised that faking one’s death was the ultimate way of tricking an enemy. Tupac would often craft lines about murder and revenge, but in a way that was calculated, much like his philosophical counterpart.
“They say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice/ I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots.”
‘Keep Ya Head Up’
‘Keep Ya Head Up’ was one of Tupac’s most inspirational tracks, aimed to pay homage to Black women. While Tupac harbored many lyrical styles, his intense metaphors were one of his strongest attributes. ‘Pac rhymed in poetry, painting pictures with his words.