Me Against the World
|Me Against the World|
|Studio album by 2Pac|
|Released||March 14, 1995|
|Singles from Me Against the World|
Me Against the World is the third studio album by American hip hop artist 2Pac. It was released March 14, 1995 on the Interscope Records label. Drawing lyrical inspiration from his impending prison sentence, troubles with the police, and poverty, the record is described as 2Pac's most introspective album. Steve Huey of AllMusic noted that with Me Against the World, the rapper became markedly more "confessional", "reflective", and "soul-baring".
Me Against the World, released while Shakur was imprisoned, made an immediate impact on the charts, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200. This made Shakur the first artist to have an album debut at number one on Billboard 200 while serving time in prison. The album served as one of Shakur's most positively reviewed albums, with many calling it the magnum opus of his career, and is considered one of the greatest and most influential hip hop albums of all-time. Me Against the World won best rap album at the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards.
In 1993, Tupac Shakur was already a success in the hip hop industry, with two gold-certified singles that reached the top twenty on the pop charts ("I Get Around", "Keep Ya Head Up"), and a platinum-selling sophomore album that would peak just inside the top twenty-five of the Billboard 200 (Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.). However, the 22-year-old artist had a series of incidents and charges of breaking the law. In the summer of 1993, Shakur was charged for assaulting director Allen Hughes while filming Menace II Society; Shakur was later sentenced to fifteen days in jail. Later, in October 1993, Shakur was charged with shooting two off-duty police officers in Atlanta, though the charges would eventually be dismissed. In November, Shakur and two members of his entourage were charged with sexually assaulting a female fan, for which, 2Pac was the main person who was found guilty of sexual assault charges, including "illegal touching of the buttocks". He was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years' incarceration, time which was spent both in Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, and Rikers Island in New York City. According to Shakur, the album was made to show the hip hop audience his respect for the art form. Lyrically, Shakur intentionally tried to make the album more personal and reflective than his previous efforts.
Recording and production
The musical production on the album was considered by several music critics to be the best on any of Shakur's albums up to that point in his career. Steve "Flash" Juon at RapReviews gave the production on the album a perfect 10 of 10 rating, particularly praising tracks like "So Many Tears" and "Temptations". Jon Pareles of the New York Times remarked that the production had a "fatalistic calm, in a commercial mold". He compared the album's production and synthesized hooks to that of Dr. Dre's G-funk style, stating that "while 2Pac doesn't sing, other voices do, providing smooth melody". James Bernard at Entertainment Weekly was not quite as enthusiastic about the album's production, remarking that Shakur's "vocals are buried deep in the mix. That's a shame—if they were more in-your-face, the lackluster beats might be less noticeable." The album's recording sessions took place at ten different studios, while it was mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering. Although the album was originally released on Interscope, Amaru Entertainment, the label owned by Shakur's mother Afeni Shakur, has since released the album twice.
It was like a blues record. It was down-home. It was all my fears, all the things I just couldn't sleep about. Everybody thought I was living so well and doing so good that I wanted to explain it. And it took a whole album to get it all out. I get to tell my innermost, darkest secrets I tell my own personal problems.— Tupac Shakur
Some of the album's main themes concern the loss of innocence, paranoia, and occasional self-loathing. Much attention is paid to subjects such as the pain of urban survival. Not all of the music deals with such extremely bleak subject matter, however. Some tracks, such as "Old School", lean more to the nostalgic, though somewhat bittersweet side in Shakur's remembrance of his youth and the early days of hip hop music. The album is also well known for the more sensitive tracks "Dear Mama" and "Can U Get Away", which are both directed towards and reveal Shakur's devotion to the women he loves. On "Dear Mama", Shakur pays tribute to and expresses his undying affection for his own mother, continuously reminding her that though his actions might sometimes seem to state otherwise, "you are appreciated". On the track "Can U Get Away", Shakur attempts to impress a woman who has managed to gain his affections, away from the woman's abusive relationship. Four of the most eerie and revered tracks on the album are "If I Die 2Nite", "Lord Knows" "Outlaw" which directly references the shooting that Tupac went through before it happened, and "Fuck The World". Throughout the entirety of the album Shakur employs various poetical deliveries, ranging from alliteration ("If I Die 2Nite"), to the use of paired couplets ("Lord Knows").
"Dear Mama" was released as the album's first single in February 1995, along with the track "Old School" as the B-side. "Dear Mama" would be the album's most successful single, topping the Hot Rap Singles chart, and peaking at the ninth spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was certified platinum in July 1995, and later placed at number 51 on the year-end charts.
The second single, "So Many Tears", was released in June, four months after the first single. The single would reach the number six spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart, and the 44th on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Temptations", released in August, was the third and final single from the album. The single would be the least successful of the three released, but still did fairly well on the charts, reaching number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100, 35 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and 13 on the Hot Rap Singles charts.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||C+|
In a contemporary review, Cheo H. Coker at Rolling Stone called the album Shakur's best and said it was "by and large a work of pain, anger and burning desperation — [it] is the first time 2Pac has taken the conflicting forces tugging at his psyche head-on". Jon Pareles, writing in The New York Times, called Shakur the "St. Augustine of gangster rap" due to his ambivalence towards the behavior and nature of the gangster lifestyle. In a negative review, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice felt that Shakur is "witless" when dealing with fundamental hip hop themes of persecution and accused him of "self-pity": "The subtext of his persecution complex is his self-regard". "This may be the first hip-hop blues LP," observed Matt Hall in Select. "Not so much in the music, although the harp blasts owe more to Howlin' Wolf than Tupac's previous two solo efforts, but more with Shakur's vocals, which are at once rebellious and resigned ... Me Against the World is a statement of intent, a note from the depths of America, and a fine, thoughtful LP."
Jaleel Abdul-Adil of the Chicago Sun-Times stated that "2Pac's latest also mixes toughness and tenderness. Desperation follows raw anger on "Fuck the World" and "It Ain't Easy," but most tracks confess frailties beneath the rapper's tough exterior. "Dear Mama" is a tear-jerking tribute to his mother' "Lord Knows" discloses desperate considerations of suicide, and "So Many Tears" ponders a merciless world that wrecks young lives. 2Pac even includes a sorrowful "shout-out" to Robert Sandifer, the Chicago teenager whose brief life ended in a brutal shooting. After earlier releases that lacked focus and consistency, 2Pac finally presents a polished project of self-examination and social commentary. It's ironic that it arrives as his sentence begins."
In a retrospective review, AllMusic editor Steve Huey dubbed the album "[Shakur's] most thematically consistent, least self-contradicting work", and stated, "it may not be his definitive album, but it just might be his best". Steve "Flash" Juon of RapReview seemed to feel differently, remarking that the album "is not only the quintessential Shakur album, but one of the most important rap albums released in the 1990s as a whole". Rap/Hip-Hop Expert Henry Adaso from rap.about.com named it the 2nd best rap album from 1995 and then stating "Me Against The World was 2Pac at his very best: no excessive thug braggarts, no name-inscribed lyrical missiles aimed at New York rivals. In fact, he stops to pay homage to rap pioneers on "Old School," irrespective of region."
On MTV's Greatest Rappers of All Time list, Me Against the World was listed as one of 2Pac's "certified classic" albums, along with 2Pacalypse Now, All Eyez On Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. "One of the best five rap albums ever," remarked Mojo, after Shakur's death.
In 1996, at the 38th Grammy Awards, Me Against the World was nominated for Best Rap Album and the single "Dear Mama" was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance. In 2008, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, in conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, recognized Me Against the World as one of the "most influential and popular albums", ranking it number 170 on a list of 200 other albums by artists of various musical genres.
|New Nation||UK||Top 100 Albums by Black Artists||49|
|Gary Mulholland||261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco||2006||*|
|Blender||United States||500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die||2003||*|
|Ego Trip||Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–98||1999||7|
|Nude as the News||The 100 Most Compelling Albums of the 90s||47|
|Pause & Play||Albums Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Album per Week||*|
|Robert Dimery||1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die||2005||*|
|The Source||The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time||1998||*|
|About.com||100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums||10|
|10 Essential Hip-Hop Albums||2008||8|
|Best Rap Albums of 1995||2008||2|
|Complex (magazine)||The 90 Best Rap Albums of the '90s||2014||23|
|RollingOut||The 20 Greatest West Coast Hip-hop Albums Of All Time||2013||2|
The album debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart and stayed there for 4 weeks straight, it sold 240,000 copies in the first week, and became certified double platinum by the end of the year. Likewise, it also debuted at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, thus giving 2Pac the first number one album on both R&B and Pop charts. While Shakur was in prison, the album over-took Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits as the best-selling album in the United States, a feat which he took pride in. Shakur became the first artist to have a number one album while serving a prison sentence. It achieved multi platinum status and has sold 3,524,567 copies in the United States as of 2011.
|2.||"If I Die 2Nite"||Tupac Shakur, Betty Wright, W. Clarke, N. Durham, Osten Harvey, Jr.||Easy Mo Bee||4:01|
|3.||"Me Against the World" (featuring Dramacydal)||Shakur, Minnie Riperton, Richard Rudolph, Leon Ware, Burt Bacharach, Hal David||Soulshock and Karlin||4:40|
|4.||"So Many Tears"||Shakur, Gregory Jacobs, Randy Walker, Eric Baker, Stevie Wonder||D-Flizno Production Squad (Shock G)||3:59|
|5.||"Temptations"||Shakur, Roger Troutman, Larry Troutman, Shirley Murdock, George Clinton, Jr., Garry Shider, David Spradley, Harvey, Jr.||Easy Mo Bee||5:00|
|6.||"Young Niggaz"||Shakur, N. Leftenat, Charlie Singleton, Tomi Jenkins, Larry Blackmon, Le-Morrious "Funky Drummer" Tyler||Moe Z.M.D.||4:53|
|7.||"Heavy in the Game" (featuring Richie Rich)||Shakur, Mosley, Bostic||
|9.||"Dear Mama"||Shakur, Joseph Sample, Pizarro||
|10.||"It Ain't Easy"||Shakur, Pizarro||Tony Pizarro||4:53|
|11.||"Can U Get Away"||Shakur, Mosley, Frankie Beverly||Mike Mosley||5:45|
|12.||"Old School"||Shakur, J. Buchanan, D. Tilery||4:40|
|13.||"Fuck the World"||Shakur, Jacobs||Shock G||4:13|
|14.||"Death Around the Corner"||Shakur, Johnny Jackson||Johnny "J"||4:07|
|15.||"Outlaw" (featuring Dramacydal)||Shakur||Moe Z.M.D.||4:32|
- 2Pac - composer, primary artist, vocals
- Eric Altenburger - art direction, design
- Kim Armstrong - vocals (background)
- Paul Arnold - engineer, Mixing
- Burt Bacharach - composer
- Eric Baker - composer
- Larry Blackmon - composer
- Sam Bostic - composer, producer
- George Clinton - composer
- Hal David - composer
- Kevin "KD" Davis - engineer, mixing
- Digital Underground - guest artist
- Dramacydal - guest artist, performer, primary artist
- Easy Mo Bee - composer
- Eboni Foster - vocals (background)
- Reggie Green - vocals (background)
- Jeff Griffin - mixing
- Greg Jacobs - composer
- Gregory Jacobs - composer
- Johnny J - composer
- Puff Johnson - guest artist, vocals (background)
- Lady Levi - guest artist
- Jay Lean - engineer, mixing
- Eric Lynch - engineer
- Moe Z - composer
- Bob Morris - engineer
- Mike Mosley - composer
- Shirley Murdock - composer
- Tim Nitz - engineer
- Tony "D" Pizarro - composer, engineer, mixing, producer
- Richie Rich - guest artist
- Minnie Riperton - composer, vocals (background)
- Roger - composer
- Jill Rose - vocals
- Richard Rudolph - composer
- Joe Sample - composer
- Garry Shider - composer
- Charlie Singleton - composer
- David Spradley - composer
- Thug Life - guest artist
- Larry Troutman - composer
- Le-Morrious "Funky Drummer" Tyler - composer
- Ronnie Vann - guitar
- Natasha Walker - guest artist, vocals (background)
- Leon Ware - composer
- Stevie Wonder - composer
Charts and Certifications
|United States (RIAA)||2x Platinum||3,524,567|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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