California Love

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"California Love"
California Love (1995), by Tupac Shakur.png
Single by 2Pac featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman
from the album All Eyez on Me (UK version)
A-side"How Do U Want It"
ReleasedDecember 3, 1995 (1995-12-03)
StudioCan-Am (Los Angeles, California)
  • 6:25 (album version)
  • 4:45 (single version)
Producer(s)Dr. Dre
2Pac singles chronology
"California Love"
"2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted"
Dr. Dre singles chronology
"Keep Their Heads Ringin'"
"California Love"
"No Diggity"
Roger Troutman singles chronology
"Put Your Lovin' Through The Test"
"California Love"
"It's Your Body"
Audio sample
Music video
"California Love" on YouTube
Music video
"California Love" (Remix) on YouTube

"California Love" is a song by American rapper 2Pac featuring fellow American rapper-producer Dr. Dre and American singer Roger Troutman. The song was released as 2Pac's comeback single after his release from prison in 1995 and was his first single as the newest artist of Death Row Records. The remix is featured on the UK version of his fourth album, All Eyez on Me (1996), and is one of 2Pac's most widely known and most successful singles. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks (as a double A-side single with "How Do U Want It") and also topped the charts of Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden. The song was posthumously nominated Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997.

Original version[edit]

The original version was not available on any of Shakur's studio albums due to it being intended for Dr. Dre's shelved album The Chronic II: A New World Odor (Poppa's Got A Brand New Funk), but it can now be found on Shakur's compilation of Greatest Hits and on the United Kingdom version of All Eyez on Me. The original version also exists in extended form and is 6:29 in length. This particular version was never released to the public and is now only available on 12-inch promo vinyl records. Aside from the extended track being on limited quantities of vinyl promo records, very few uploads to YouTube exist of the original, 6:29-length extended song, performed without Shakur.[6]

Writing, samples and background[edit]

"California Love" was one of two songs produced by Dr. Dre on All Eyez on Me—the other one being "Can't C Me". The first version of the song has three verses featuring Dr. Dre's rapping. The only copy of this session is now in the possession of DJ Jam, Snoop Dogg's personal concert DJ. 2Pac first heard Dr. Dre's session while at Dre's in-house studio and asked Dre to put him on the song. Producer Laylaw also did an additional remix of the song which is often erroneously credited to Dr. Dre[7] and has been suggested to be one of the reasons for the fallout between Dre and 2Pac a few months later. The original was released as a double-A side single together with "How Do U Want It" and intended for the Dr. Dre album The Chronic II, while the remix was included on 2Pac's All Eyez on Me. The song was made and written in Dr. Dre's in house studio, 2Pac came in and wrote his verse straight away; it took him just 15 minutes to write his verse. The weekend after the song was completed the video was then recorded.

The original version contains a sample taken from Joe Cocker's 1972 song "Woman to Woman". The remix version contains a sample taken from Kleeer's 1984 song "Intimate Connection". The chorus, "California knows how to party", was sung by Roger Troutman using his characteristic talk box and was taken from the 1982 song "West Coast Poplock" by Ronnie Hudson & The Street People which was written by Ronnie Hudson and Mikel Hooks. In the song where Troutman sings "shake it, shake it baby", he interpolates the chant he used on his 1982 Zapp single, "Dance Floor".

Critical reception[edit]

Michael Hill from Cash Box noted that 2Pac and Dr Dre "are clicking some smooth lyrics together over this killer a— dance track. This track is smoking, and with the introduction of funk royalty Roger Troutman on the vocoder, it simply bursts into flames. If you haven’t heard one of the six mixes available, be patient because it’s bound to reach your area soon."[8] Will Hermes from Entertainment Weekly viewed it as "a West Coast rump shaker".[9] Ralph Tee from Music Week's RM Dance Update rated the song four out of five, describing it as "a fusion of funk and hip hop on this excellent rap cut about the splendour of the US's sunshine state." He added further, "Dr Dre's production sparkles on this potential hit which takes the vocoder and horns from Zapp's 'So Ruff So Tuff' (Roger Troutman also appearing in the Mad Max-style video) and on its best mix the sticky bassline from Kleeer's 'Intimate Connection' underlines it all."[10]

Music videos[edit]

Two versions of the music video were filmed. Shakur's longtime friend actress Jada Pinkett Smith came up with the concept inspired by the 1985 film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.[11] She was expected to direct the video, but she removed herself from the project and was replaced by Hype Williams.[11][12] The video was filmed November 10-13, 1995 in El Mirage, California.[13] It takes place in a desert in the year 2095. The casting includes actor Clifton Powell as the evil tribal chief, actor Chris Tucker (then known for his role in the 1995 film Friday),[14] Tony Cox as the dwarf soldier, and Roger Troutman (formerly with the band Zapp) carrying a talk box. It ends with a cliffhanger cut by a "To Be Continued" closing. An alternative version, featuring the remix song re-cut, removes the final caption and features 2Pac and Dr. Dre naming West Coast towns.

The second video is based on the remix version of the song from the album All Eyez on Me and is a continuation of the video's story. The premise is that the desert scenes of the previous videos were merely a nightmare 2Pac was having. When he wakes up, he finds himself in his bed beside a young woman. He calls Dr. Dre on a cordless phone, who tells him to get over to his summer house because he's throwing a house party. The rest of the music video takes place as if it were a home video celebrating 2Pac's welcome to Death Row and features several cameos, notably Roger Troutman who is now playing the piano, and guest appearances from DJ Quik, Big Syke, Deion Sanders, Danny Boy, Nadia Cassini, Jodeci, B-Legit and E-40.[15] The video was shot in Compton, California.

The first video can be found on the DualDisc of All Eyez on Me and the second video can be found on Tupac: Live at the House of Blues DVD. It also won the 1996 MOBO Award for Best Video. The music video was released in December 1995.[16]


"California Love" was voted the 11th best single of 1996 in the Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice.[17] Robert Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it 10th in his own year-end list.[18] The song's first video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video in 1996. It achieved number 9 of the top 10 on MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made list in 1999. In April 2005 it reached the Bronze medal spot on MTV2 and XXL's 25 Greatest West Coast Videos. It also achieved number 1 on the French MTV's "100 Greatest Rap Music Videos" in 2006. It went number 51 on VH1's countdown of the 100 Greatest songs of the 90s in 2007.[19]

  • The information regarding accolades attributed to California Love is adapted from Acclaimed Music.[20]
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Ego Trip United States Hip Hop's 40 Greatest Singles by Year 1980–98 1999 22
VH1 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's 2007 51
Blender The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now! 2003 * 50 Great Hip Hop Songs 2001 6
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time 2004 346
Bruce Pollock The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000 2005 *
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 2010 355
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Songs That Shaped Rock (Additions 2011) 2011 *
Slant The 100 Best Singles of the 90s 17
Time The All-Time 100 Songs *
Pause & Play Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week *
Gary Mulholland United Kingdom This Is Uncool: The 500 Best Singles Since Punk Rock 2002 *
Paul Morley Words and Music, 210 Greatest Pop Singles of All Time 2003 *
Q The 1001 Best Songs Ever 118
The 1010 Songs You Must Own 2004 *
Giannis Petridis Greece 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century 2003 *
Technikart France Top 20 Songs per Year 1991–2011 2012 13
Village Voice United States Singles of the Year 11
Face United Kingdom 3
Melody Maker 24
Vox 8
Rolling Stone United States The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2021)[21] 2021 320

Song versions[edit]

There are several different versions (and duration lengths) of California Love recorded and released by 2Pac.

  • California Love [Official/"Full" Original Track] – 6:29 (the unmodified, uncut original track, released only on promo vinyl records)
  • California Love [Remix/"Full" Original Track] – 6:25 (the unmodified, uncut remixed track, released on All Eyez On Me)
  • California Love ["Original"] – 4:45 (the "original" released track, shortened down from 6:29 to 4:45)
  • California Love [Short Radio Edit] – 4:01 (modified version of the cut "original" track [shorter, modified outro])
  • California Love [LP Instrumental] – 4:15 (instrumental version of the "original" track)
  • California Love [Short Remix Edit] – 4:07 (remixed version of the "original")
  • California Love [Remix Instrumental] – 4:12 (instrumental version of remix)

Some tracks listed above are available through iTunes and other music providers, while others are from CD discs only believed to be released in the UK. The "official/original" track can only be found on promo vinyl records or through YouTube, which is done only by Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman.


  • Writer – Tupac "2Pac" Shakur (2nd Verse); James "J-Flexx" Anderson (1st verse)
  • Keyboards – Sean "Barney" Thomas
  • percussion – Carl "Butch" Small
  • Producer, mixing, featuring (Rap) – Dr. Dre
  • Vocals, talkbox – Roger Troutman
  • Background vocals – Danette Williams, Dorothy Coleman, Barbara Wilson
  • Engineer – Keston E. Wright
  • Engineer – Rick Clifford
  • Assistant Engineer: Alvin McGill
  • Production assistant – Larry Chatman
  • Video direction – Hype Williams[12]


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[70] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[71] Gold 20,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[72] Platinum 10,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[73] Gold  
United Kingdom (BPI)[74] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[75]
2× Platinum 2,000,000^
United States

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States December 3, 1995
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
January 30, 1996 Contemporary hit radio [78]
United Kingdom April 1, 1996
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette

See also[edit]


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