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Me Against the World

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Me Against the World
Meagainsttheworldcover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 14, 1995[1]
Recorded1993-94
GenreHip hop
Length66:06
LabelInterscope
Producer
2Pac chronology
Thug Life: Volume 1
(1994)
Me Against the World
(1995)
All Eyez on Me
(1996)
Singles from Me Against the World
  1. "Dear Mama"
    Released: February 9, 1995
  2. "So Many Tears"
    Released: June 13, 1995
  3. "Temptations"
    Released: August 29, 1995

Me Against the World is the third studio album by American rapper 2Pac, released on March 14, 1995 by Interscope Records. Drawing lyrical inspiration from his impending prison sentence, troubles with the police, and poverty, the album is described as being 2Pac's most introspective album.

According to 2Pac, Me Against the World was made to show the hip hop audience his respect for the art form. Lyrically, he intentionally tried to make the album more personal and reflective than his previous efforts. The musical production on the album was considered by several music critics to be the best on any of his albums up to that point in his career.

Released while 2Pac was imprisoned, Me Against the World made an immediate impact on the charts, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, holding the top spot for four consecutive weeks, and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Dear Mama" was released as the album's first single in February 1995 and would be the album's most successful single, topping the Hot Rap Singles chart, and peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. While 2Pac was in prison, the album over-took Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits as the current best-selling album of the year in the United States.

Me Against the World was eventually certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) At the 38th Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for Best Rap Album and "Dear Mama" was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance. The album received generally acclaimed reviews by critics, being ranked among the best albums of the 1990s. In 2008, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), in conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, included Me Against the World in its list of the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time.

Background[edit]

By 1994, Tupac Shakur, age 22, was already a prominent and controversial rapper. His second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., going Platinum, had entered the top 25 on the Billboard 200, and offered two Gold singles, "I Get Around" and "Keep Ya Head Up", both entering the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] In rapid succession, however, he had become embroiled in one criminal allegation after another.

All for incidents in 1993, Shakur was sentenced to 15 days of jail for assaulting director Allen Hughes while filming Menace II Society, had seen the charges dropped after he shot two off-duty police officers, and was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison for, with two other men, sexually assaulting a woman.

According to Shakur, Me Against the World aimed to show the hip-hop audience his respect for the art form. Shakur purposefully made Me Against the World's lyrics more personal and reflective than previously.[4] This was widely attributed to Shakur's growing maturity and perhaps an effort to reconcile with his troubled past.

Production[edit]

Although originally released by Interscope, the album was later released twice by Amaru Entertainment, the label owned by Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur.[5][6] The album was recorded at ten different studios, and it was mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering.[7] Several critics found the album's musical production the best on any of Shakur's albums to date.

Steve "Flash" Juon of RapReviews, scoring the production a perfect 10 of 10, particularly praised "So Many Tears" and "Temptations".[8] Jon Pareles of the New York Times called the production a "fatalistic calm, in a commercial mold", and added that "while 2Pac doesn't sing, other voices do, providing smooth melody".[9] Yet James Bernard of Entertainment Weekly, dissenting, complained 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."[10]

Themes[edit]

Me Against the World was really to show people that this is an art to me. That I do take it like that. And whatever mistakes I make, I make out of ignorance, not out of disrespect to music or the art. So Me Against the World was deep, reflective. 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 that 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. It’s explaining my lifestyle, who I am, my upbringing and everything. It talks about the streets but talks about it in a different light. There’s a song on there dedicated to mothers, just a song I wrote just for my mother. And it digs deeper like that. I just wanted to do something for all mothers. I’m proud of that song. It affected a lot of people.[4]

— Tupac Shakur

Often depicting the travails of male survival in the ghetto,[11] prominent sentiments include anguish, despair, hopelessness, paranoia, and self-loathing.[12] Such dark tracks, sometimes simultaneously menacing, are "If I Die 2Nite", "Lord Knows", "Outlaw", and "Fuck The World". But there are exceptions. Nostalgic jubilance distinguishes "Old School"—a roster his favorite rap songs, with associated joys, predating his adulthood—while bittersweet optimism occurs in "It Ain't Easy".[8][12] "Can U Get Away" aims to flirtatiously encourage and lure a romantic interest away from her current, abusive relationship. And the track most popular, "Dear Mama", is a reverent ode to his mother.[8][13] Throughout the album, Shakur employs various poetical devices, such as alliteration ("If I Die 2Nite") and paired couplets ("Lord Knows").[8]

Release[edit]

Me Against the World debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 210,500 copies in the first week. The album ended up holding the top spot for four consecutive weeks.[14] The album also debuted at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, thus giving 2Pac the first number one album on both R&B and Pop charts.[15] 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.[4] Shakur became the first artist to have a number one album while serving a prison sentence.[16] On December 6, 1995, the album was certified double platinum for sales of over two million copies in the United States.[17] As of September 2011, the album has sold 3,524,567 copies in the United States.[18]

Tupac Shakur's virtual appearance at the annual Coachella Festival (April 15, 2012) led to the album selling 1,000 copies the following week (up by 53% from the previous week).[19]

Singles[edit]

"Dear Mama" was released as the album's first single in February 1995, along with the track "Old School" as the B-side.[20] "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.[21] The single was certified platinum in July 1995,[2] 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.[22] The single would reach the number six spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart, and the 44th on the Billboard Hot 100.[21]

"Temptations," released in August, was the third and final single from the album.[23] 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.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[24]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[10]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[25]
Q3/5 stars[26]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[27]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[28]
Select4/5[29]
The Source4/5[30]
The Village VoiceC+[31]

Me Against the World received generally positive reviews. 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".[27] 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.[9] Steve Huey of AllMusic noted that, with Me Against the World, the rapper became markedly more "confessional," "reflective," and "soul-baring."[12]

"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."[29]

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 youth 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."[32]

Some reviewers were less impressed. James Bernard from Entertainment Weekly said, "2Pac does the black-man-backed-into-a-corner routine better than just about anyone because that's largely who he is. When he says it's 'me against the world,' there's an urgency that only comes from experience. On record, the rapper-turned-movie icon’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."[10] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice said Shakur witlessly exploited fundamental hip hop themes such as persecution while exhibiting an offensive level of self-pity: "His I-love-Mom rings true because Mom was no saint, and his respect for old G's seems genuine, probably because they told him how smart he was. But whether the metaphor be dead homies or suicide threat, the subtext of his persecution complex is his self-regard."[31]

Reappraisal[edit]

Me Against the World was as one of 2pac's most positively reviewed albums, with many calling it the magnum opus of his career; the work is considered one of the greatest[33] and most influential hip hop albums of all time.[34] 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".[12] 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".[8] 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.[35] "One of the best five rap albums ever," remarked Mojo, after Shakur's death.[36]

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.[37][38] Me Against the World won Best Rap Album at the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards. 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.[39]

 • The information regarding accolades is adapted from Acclaimed Music,[40] except for lists that are sourced otherwise.
 • (*) signifies unordered lists

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
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[41] 2005 *
The Source The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 *
About.com 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums[42] 10
10 Essential Hip-Hop Albums[43] 2008 8
Best Rap Albums of 1995[44] 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[45] 2013 2

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Intro"Tupac Shakur1:40
2."If I Die 2Nite"ShakurEasy Mo Bee4:02
3."Me Against the World" (featuring Dramacydal)Shakur, DramacydalSoulshock and Karlin4:41
4."So Many Tears"ShakurD-Flizno Production Squad (Shock G)3:59
5."Temptations"ShakurEasy Mo Bee5:01
6."Young Niggaz"ShakurMoe Z.M.D.4:53
7."Heavy in the Game" (featuring Richie Rich)Shakur, Mosley, Bostic
4:24
8."Lord Knows"Shakur
  • Brian G
  • Moe Z.M.D.[b]
  • Tony Pizarro[b]
4:32
9."Dear Mama"Shakur
  • Tony Pizarro
  • DF Master Tee & Moses[a]
4:40
10."It Ain't Easy"ShakurTony Pizarro4:54
11."Can U Get Away"ShakurMike Mosley5:46
12."Old School"Shakur
4:41
13."Fuck the World"ShakurShock G4:14
14."Death Around the Corner"ShakurJohnny "J"4:07
15."Outlaw" (featuring Dramacydal)ShakurMoe Z.M.D.4:33
Total length:66:07
Notes

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Me Against the World adapted from AllMusic[46]

  • 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[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[55] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ "Discography". Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  2. ^ a b "RIAA – Gold & Platinum – May 13, 2009: Search Results – 2 Pac". RIAA. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  3. ^ "allmusic ((( Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  4. ^ a b c Ali & Hoye 2003, p. 166
  5. ^ "2Pac – Me Against The World at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  6. ^ Guy, Jasmine (2005-02-01). Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary (Paperback). Atria. p. 193. ISBN 0-7434-7054-0.
  7. ^ "2Pac – Me Against The World (Vinyl, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  8. ^ a b c d e Juon, Steve 'Flash'. "2Pac :: Me Against the World :: Interscope". RapReviews. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  9. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (1995-04-09). "RECORDINGS VIEW; Confession of a Rapper Who Done Wrong – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  10. ^ a b c Bernard, James (March 17, 1995). "Me Against the World". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  11. ^ Juon, Steve 'Flash'. "2Pac :: Me Against the World :: Interscope". RapReviews. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  12. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. "Me Against the World – 2Pac". AllMusic. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  13. ^ ""Me Against the World" lyrics at OHHLA.com". OHHLA.com. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  14. ^ a b "Me Against the World - 2Pac". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  15. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  16. ^ Nguyen, Hao (May 3, 2014). "Hip-Hop Gem: 2Pac Was The First Artist To Debut At No. 1 While In Prison". StopTheBreaks. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  17. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - May 13, 2009 - Search Results - Me Against the World". RIAA. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  18. ^ "Tupac Month: 2Pac's Discography". Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  19. ^ Caulfield, Keith (April 27, 2012). "Tupac's Virtual Coachella Appearance Spurs Huge Sales Bump". Billboard. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  20. ^ "Dear Mama (US Single #1) at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  21. ^ a b c d "Me Against the World – 2Pac". AllMusic. 1995-03-14. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  22. ^ "So Many Tears (EP) at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  23. ^ "Temptations (CD/Cassette Single) at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  24. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  25. ^ Hunt, Dennis (March 12, 1995). "Tupac Shakur's Grim New 'World'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  26. ^ McCann, Ian (April 1997). "2Pac: Me Against the World". Q (127).
  27. ^ a b Coker, Cheo H. (March 10, 1995). "2Pac: Me Against The World". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
  28. ^ Tate, Greg (2004). "2Pac/Tupac Shakur". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 830–32. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  29. ^ a b Hall, Matt (May 1995). "2Pac: Me Against the World". Select (59): 101.
  30. ^ "2Pac: Me Against the World". The Source (67): 79. April 1995.
  31. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (June 6, 1995). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  32. ^ Lynch, Joe (April 1, 2015). "What Critics Said About Tupac's 'Me Against the World' 20 Years Ago". Billboard. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  33. ^ https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-juice/6517184/tupac-me-against-the-world-album-critics-1995
  34. ^ "Remebering Tupac: His Musical Legacy and His Top Selling Albums". The Atlanta Post. September 17, 2010. Archived from the original on February 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ Mojo, November 1996
  37. ^ Strauss, Neil (January 5, 1996). "New Faces in Grammy Nominations". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  38. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Rap Solo Performance". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  39. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Definitive 200". RockHall.com. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  40. ^ "Me Against the World at AcclaimedMusic.net". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  41. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  42. ^ Adaso, Henry. "The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of All Time". About.com. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  43. ^ Adaso, Henry. "The 10 Essential Rap Albums". AboutEntertainment. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  44. ^ Adaso, Henry. Best Rap Albums of 1995. About.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  45. ^ Williams, Stereo (April 13, 2013). "The 20 greatest West Coast hip-hop albums of all time". RollingOut. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  46. ^ "Me Against the World: Credits at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  47. ^ "2 Pac – Me Against The World". musicline.de. Archived from the original on 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  48. ^ "2 Pac – Me Against The World". SwedishCharts.com. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  49. ^ "Search Results -- Albums". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 24, 2009.
  50. ^ "2PAC | Artist". Official Charts. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  51. ^ "Me Against the World – 2Pac". AllMusic. 1995-03-14. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  52. ^ "2Pac Chart History (Catalog Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  53. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1995". Billboard. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  54. ^ "British album certifications – 2 Pac – 2Pacalypse Now". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type 2Pacalypse Now in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  55. ^ "American album certifications – 2 Pac – Me Against the World". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
Bibliography

External links[edit]