Keep Ya Head Up

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"Keep Ya Head Up"
Single by 2Pac featuring Dave Hollister
from the album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
B-side Rebel of the Underground
I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto
Released October 28, 1993
Format 12"
Recorded 1992
Genre Hip hop, R&B
Length 4:23
Label Interscope
Writer(s) Tupac Shakur
Producer(s) DJ Daryl
Certification Gold (RIAA)
2Pac featuring Dave Hollister singles chronology
"I Get Around"
"Keep Ya Head Up"
"Papa'z Song"
Music sample
Music video
"Keep Ya Head Up" on YouTube

"Keep Ya Head Up" is a 1993 hit single by Tupac Shakur. The song features R&B singer Dave Hollister and is dedicated to Latasha Harlins and females.

The song is at once a call for better treatment of women by fellow men, and a call to women, children, and poor people of color to 'keep ya head up' through inevitable tough times that arise in a system and society that make it 'hard to be legit and still pay the rent'. 2Pac also talks about rape, saying men have no right to tell a women where and when women should have babies or have sex. This song encourages women to stay strong. It addresses issues concerning lack of respect toward the female gender, especially poor black women. It has a very positive message, and is often used as an example of Shakur's softer side. Many consider it to be one of the deepest rap songs ever made and is often referenced by other artists in their work, building Shakur's persona as a very conscious and influential rapper.

Production and release[edit]

The beat is sampled from Zapp & Roger's "Be Alright" and the chorus is sampled from The Five Stairsteps' "O-o-h Child", but originally it was sampled from Big Daddy Kane's "Prince of Darkness". It was first released in Shakur's 1993 album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., later appearing after his death in 1998 in his Greatest Hits compilation. A "sequel" to the song, Baby Don't Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II) was released in 2Pac's posthumous album Still I Rise in 1999.

Music video[edit]

The video opens up with the words "Dedicated to the memory of Latasha Harlins, it's still on", in reference to the L.A. Riots. The video has a basic format with Shakur rapping in the middle of a circle surrounded by a crowd of people and in some scenes seen holding a young child. His mother Afeni Shakur also appears in the video.

Live Performances[edit]

  • 2Pac performed this song Yo! MTV Raps in 1993 with Thug Life and Dave Hollister.[1]
  • Rap star Nas performed the song at the first MTV Hip Hop Honors in 2004 while wearing a top with a big picture of 2Pac and wearing a bandana in a similar way 2Pac wore his.[2]
  • Singer Jhené Aiko covered the song on Rap-Up TV in 2013. [3]


  • The information regarding accolades attributed to Keep Ya Head Up is adapted from[4]
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Bruce Pollock USA The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 2005 *
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Songs That Shaped Rock 2011 * Top 100 Rap Songs 11
Rate Your Music The 200 Best Hip Hop Songs Of All Time 48[5]
The Guardian UK 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear 2009 *


The same beat was used the year before on southern rapper Big Mello's song "Love Don't Love Nobody" from his 1992 album Bone Hard Zaggin and H-Town's hit single, Knockin' da Boots.

This song was also used by South Central Cartel "Gangsta Love", covered by Lyfe Jennings and released on his 2006 album, The Phoenix, used in the soundtrack of the movie Freedom Writers and performed live by Nas at the MTV Rap Memorial in 2005 and at VH1's Hip Hop Honors in tribute to Shakur in 2004.

The title of the song was mentioned on Ludacris' verse on Usher's song, "She Don't Know" on his 2010 album Raymond vs. Raymond.

Lil Wayne also revealed that for the acoustic-driven How To Love, he pulled inspiration from late rapper Tupac Shakur’s inspirational 1993 hit, “Keep Ya Head Up” and said “That song is just sweeping the world. It’s touching every woman, that’s what it was for,” he said. “It was like Tupac had ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ and it was a message to women and little girls across the world just to keep your head up even though things are hard.[6]

A2: mixed for Vibe Tribe Entertainment. B1: remix and additional production for Madukey Productions. B2: produced for Stayin' Busy Productions.

A1, A2, B1 contain samples from "Be Alright" (R. Troutman; Rubberband Music, BMI) as recorded by Roger. B2 contains samples from "Computer Land" (Saja Music/Troutman's Music, BMI) as recorded by Zapp.

Track listing[edit]

CDS - maxi single

  1. "Keep Ya Head Up" (LP Version)
  2. "Keep Ya Head Up" (Vibe Tribe Remix)
  3. "Keep Ya Head Up" (Madukey Remix)
  4. "Rebel of the Underground"
  5. "I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto"


Chart (1993) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 12
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[8] 7


  • Engineer – Bob Tucker (tracks: A2, B2), Norman "Slam" Whitfield, Jr.* (tracks: A2, B2)
  • Engineer [Remix] – Eric Flickinger (tracks: B1), Franklin Purrell (tracks: B1)
  • Mixed By – D. Nettlesbey* (tracks: A2), Norman "Slam" Whitfield, Jr.* (tracks: A2)
  • Producer – D-Flow Production Squad, The* (tracks: B2), D.J. Daryl* (tracks: A1, B1)
  • Remix [Additional] – Norman "Slam" Whitfield, Jr.* (tracks: B2)


  • Producer [Additional Production] – Bryant "Moe Dee" Johnson* (tracks: B1), Battlecat* (tracks: B2), Howard Johnson (2) (tracks: B2), Kris Kellow* (tracks: B2), Lea Reis (tracks: B1), Paul Arnold (tracks: B2), Vibe Tribe (10) (tracks: A2)
  • Vocals – Black Angel, The (tracks: A1, B1), Money B (2) (tracks: B2), Shockalock (tracks: B2)


External links[edit]