Twenty years ago today (March 14), Tupac “2Pac” Shakur unleashed Me Against The World, a classic album that helped him become an iconic MC. With a blend of controversial and socially conscious raps, the album still reigns as one of the best projects in 'Pac's illustrious catalog.
To celebrate 2Pac's artistry and the album’s impact, we analyzed the project and found 20 insightful lessons that can be found in 'Pac's Me Against The World raps that are as powerful today as they were in 1995.
And you can listen to the album while you soak in these life-changing lessons.
Notice The YouthVEVO
"Don't wanna make excuses / 'Cause this is how it is / What's the use? / Unless we're shooting no one notices the youth," 'Pac said on the titular track. Some of those kids 'Pac was talking about are today's leaders. Take note of the young leaders in your life.
Keep A Close Eye On The PhoniesYouTube
"My homie told me once, 'Don't you trust them other suckers,'" 'Pac rapped on "Death Around The Corner." "They front like they your homies, but they phony motherf------s." Watch out for the phonies. Word to Holden Caulfield.
Don’t Let Anything Stop YouYouTube
Is there ever a finish line? Not if you hope to make a change. "There ain't no stopping me,” ‘Pac rhymed on the album's title track. "Constantly movin' while making millions.” Can't let any obstacle break you down.
Study Your Lessons
This is great advice whether you're talking about jobs, dates or, well, pretty much anything. "Don't settle for less," 'Pac rapped on the album's titular cut. Reach your full potential.
"Even a genius asks his questions," the MC said on "Me Against The World." He was right. Don't be afraid to ask questions in order to find your way, even if people say you have "big mouth."
Keep Your EssenceYouTube
"Don't ever change, keep your essence," 'Pac said, but he didn't mean you can't evolve. After all, he went from dancing with Digital Underground to thuggin' with Death Row, but through it all, he was saying the essence had to remain the same.
Do Your Best
"Always do your best, don't let the pressure make you panic," 'Pac advised on "Me Against The World." And yes, this means even if you don't win an award. Just check out 'Pac's last MTV interview where he discusses his pride in his work even if he didn't win an award for it. Do your best. Worry about the recognition later.
Make A DifferenceYouTube
"When you get stranded, and things don't go the way you planned it, dream of the riches in a position of making a difference," he rhymed on "Me Against The World." Even in your dreams, think about how you can make a difference.
Do Something With Your Life
"Now that I'm grown, I got my mind on bein' somethin'," 2Pac rapped on "Young N----z." "Don't wanna be another statistic, out here doin' nuthin'." 'Pac lived that dream through hard work. Just ask his mom Afeni Shakur, who celebrates him in the video above.
Avoid Dumb People And Have FunYouTube
"Break away from these dumb n----s," 'Pac advised us on "Young N----z." "Put down the guns and have some fun, n---a / The rest'll come, n---a." You heard 'Pac. It's okay to have some fun.
Acknowledge The Bad, Praise The Good
“Even as a crack fiend, mama, you always was a black queen, mama." These words off "Dear Mama" had to be hard to write. But it taught us to describe the negatives, acknowledge the positives and celebrate the good despite the bad.
Hold On And Roll OnYouTube
"I wish I could take the pain away," 'Pac rhymed on "Dear Mama." "If you can make it through the night, there's a brighter day / Everything will be alright if you hold on / It's a struggle every day, gotta roll on."
This is why people love 'Pac. He understood your daily grind for success and provided the motivation to succeed.
Stay Out of TroubleYouTube
"Through my childhood, wild as a juvenile," 'Pac rhymed on "Old School." "A young n---a tryin' to stay away from Rikers Isle." Stay out of trouble, even if 'Pac couldn't.
"With that jealousy, they need to miss me," 'Pac rhymed on "Young N----z." "Don't sweat me."
Let the haters sweat your technique, but don't sweat over their jealousy.
Grind Even When You’re Hopeless
"I can't give up, although I'm hopeless," he rapped on "Death Around The Corner." "I think my mind's gone / All I can do is get my grind on."
Post this on your wall for the next time you feel hopeless. Guaranteed to break you out of that slump.
Understand Your Political Power
"The power is in the people and politics we address," he said. Even as a 17-year-old, 'Pac was talking about the power of politics in the rare high school interview above.
"This is staggering," he said in the clip. "How can [President] Reagan live in a White House which has a lot of rooms and there be homelessness? And he's talking about helping homelessness." Looks like 'Pac was aware of political power way before Me Against The World came out, but this album brought that point home even more clearly.
You Will Get Through ThisYouTube
Okay, so this isn't a rhyme. But at the end of "Me Against The World," 'Pac is pretty much at his most inspiring.
"I know it seem hard sometimes but remember one thing," he says. "Through every dark night, there's a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up, and handle it."
Try listening to that and not sticking your chest out. We tried. It's impossible. If you ever get down, throw this on and you'll be ready to face the world as soon as the track ends.
Keep Your Eyes On The PrizeYouTube
Whenever you're chasing your dreams or trying to surpass past goals, you might get sidetracked. That's happened before, right? Sure, it has. You're really productive one minute, then you hit Twitter and then Instagram and before you know it, you forgot what productivity looked like.
In times like those, remember 'Pac's "F--k The World" advice: "Never take your eyes off the prize."
Follow Your PassionYouTube
"Picture perfection pursuing paper with a passion,” 2Pac rhymed on "If I Die 2Nite." 'Pac followed his passion, from politics to poetry, from rapping to films. And with this line, he reminded us that we can do the same. Now, go find your passion and follow it.