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Me Against the World

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Me Against the World
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 14, 1995
2Pac chronology
Thug Life: Volume 1
Me Against the World
All Eyez on Me
Singles from Me Against the World
  1. "Dear Mama"
    Released: February 21, 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 Out Da Gutta/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. Steve Huey of AllMusic noted that, with Me Against the World, the rapper became markedly more "confessional", "reflective", and "soul-baring".[1]

Released while Shakur was imprisoned, the album made an immediate impact on the charts, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200. The album served as one of Shakur's most positively reviewed albums, with many calling it the magnum opus of his career; the work is considered one of the greatest[2] and most influential hip hop albums of all time.[3] Me Against the World won best rap album at the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards.[4]


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.).[5][6] 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 were dropped due to the officers instigating the confrontation using a gun they illegally confiscated from a police evidence room. 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.[7] 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.[8] Many people attributed this personal change to Tupac's growing maturity and seriousness as a young adult and an attempt to justify and make-up for his young turbulent childhood; and his apparent humbling on becoming a new growing star within the Music business, despite his previous life of crime.

Recording and production[edit]

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".[9] 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".[10] 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."[11] The album's recording sessions took place at ten different studios, while it was mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering.[12] 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.[13][14]

Lyrical 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 wanted to something for all mothers. I’m proud of that song. It affected a lot of people.[8]

— Tupac Shakur

Some of the album's main themes concern the loss of innocence, paranoia, and occasional self-loathing.[1] Much attention is paid to subjects such as the pain of urban survival.[9] 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.[1][9] 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".[9][15] 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").[9]


"Dear Mama" was released as the album's first single in February 1995, along with the track "Old School" as the B-side.[16] "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.[17] The single was certified platinum in July 1995,[5] 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.[18] The single would reach the number six spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart, and the 44th on the Billboard Hot 100.[17]

"Temptations", released in August, was the third and final single from the album.[19] 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.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[20]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[11]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[21]
Q3/5 stars[22]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[24]
The Source4/5[26]
The Village VoiceC+[27]

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".[23] 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.[10] "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."[25] 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."[28]

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."[11] 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."[27]


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".[1] 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".[9] Rap/Hip-Hop Expert Henry Adaso from 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.[29] "One of the best five rap albums ever," remarked Mojo, after Shakur's death.[30]


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.[31][32] 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.[33]

 • The information regarding accolades is adapted from Acclaimed Music,[34] 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[35] 2005 *
The Source The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 * 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums[36] 10
10 Essential Hip-Hop Albums[37] 2008 8
Best Rap Albums of 1995[38] 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[39] 2013 2


American hip hop artist J. Cole has cited Me Against the World as one of his favorite albums of all time,[40] Cole spoke about the album saying:

Everyone knows I'm a super-duper Pac fan, but when Me Against The World dropped I was 10 years old. So even being 10 years old, I still knew the importance of this album. I knew how ill the shit he was saying was, and how emotional he sounded. I was ten years old, but I could connect to the dude. It's like now, when I'm traveling on the road, a parent will bring their 11-year-old kid to me and say, 'You're his favorite rapper. He loves you.' I'll think, 'Yo, he's 11!, I have to remember that when I was young, I got it too. I understood it. So it reminds me of that. It's a classic. "Dear Mama" is a fucking classic. The song 'Me Against The World' is a classic. "Temptations" and "So Many Tears" are my favorite songs on there.[40]

— J. Cole

American hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar has also cited the album as one of his favorites, he described the album as "really dark", he said: "Death Around The Corner, "So Many Tears", you can tell what type of space he was in."[41]

Commercial performance[edit]

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.[42][43] 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.[44] 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.[8] Shakur became the first artist to have a number one album while serving a prison sentence.[45] It achieved multi platinum status and has sold 3,524,567 copies in the United States as of 2011.[46]

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).[47]

Track listing[edit]

1."Intro" 1:40
2."If I Die 2Nite"Tupac Shakur, Betty Wright, Willie Clarke, Norman Durham, Osten Harvey, Jr.Easy Mo Bee4:01
3."Me Against the World" (featuring Dramacydal)Shakur, Michael Jackson Minnie Riperton, Richard Rudolph, Leon Ware, Burt Bacharach, Hal DavidSoulshock and Karlin4:40
4."So Many Tears"Shakur, Gregory Jacobs, Randy Walker, Eric Baker, Stevie WonderD-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 Bee5:00
6."Young Niggaz"Shakur, Nathan Leftenat, Charlie Singleton, Tomi Jenkins, Larry Blackmon, Le-Morrious "Funky Drummer" TylerMoe Z.M.D.4:53
7."Heavy in the Game" (featuring Richie Rich)Shakur, Mosley, Bostic
8."Lord Knows"Shakur
  • Brian G
  • Moe Z.M.D.[b]
  • Tony Pizarro[b]
9."Dear Mama"Shakur, Joseph Sample, Pizarro
  • Tony Pizarro
  • DF Master Tee & Moses[a]
10."It Ain't Easy"Shakur, PizarroTony Pizarro4:53
11."Can U Get Away"Shakur, Mosley, Frankie BeverlyMike Mosley5:45
12."Old School"Shakur, John Buchanan, Donald Tilery
13."Fuck the World"Shakur, Gregory JacobsShock G4:13
14."Death Around the Corner"Shakur, Johnny JacksonJohnny "J"4:07
15."Outlaw" (featuring Dramacydal)ShakurMoe Z.M.D.4:32
Total length:66:07



Credits for Me Against the World adapted from AllMusic[58]

  • 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[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[59] 2x Platinum 3,524,567

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

Chart positions[edit]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ Appleford, Steve (1 April 1996). "It's a Soul Train Awards Joy Ride for TLC, D'Angelo". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "allmusic ((( Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  7. ^ "allmusic ((( 2Pac > Biography )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  8. ^ a b c Ali & Hoye 2003, p. 166
  9. ^ a b c d e f Juon, Steve 'Flash'. "2Pac :: Me Against the World :: Interscope". RapReviews. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b c Bernard, James (March 17, 1995). "Me Against the World". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  12. ^ "2Pac – Me Against The World (Vinyl, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  13. ^ "2Pac – Me Against The World at Discogs". Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  14. ^ Guy, Jasmine (2005-02-01). Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary (Paperback). Atria. p. 193. ISBN 0-7434-7054-0.
  15. ^ ""Me Against the World" lyrics at". Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  16. ^ "Dear Mama (US Single #1) at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  17. ^ a b c d "Me Against the World – 2Pac". AllMusic. 1995-03-14. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  18. ^ "So Many Tears (EP) at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  19. ^ "Temptations (CD/Cassette Single) at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  20. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  21. ^ Hunt, Dennis (March 12, 1995). "Tupac Shakur's Grim New 'World'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  22. ^ McCann, Ian (April 1997). "2Pac: Me Against the World". Q (127).
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  24. ^ Tate, Greg (2004). "2Pac/Tupac Shakur". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 830–32. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  25. ^ a b Hall, Matt (May 1995). "2Pac: Me Against the World". Select (59): 101.
  26. ^ "2Pac: Me Against the World". The Source (67): 79. April 1995.
  27. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (June 6, 1995). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  28. ^ Lynch, Joe (April 1, 2015). "What Critics Said About Tupac's 'Me Against the World' 20 Years Ago". Billboard. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ Mojo, November 1996
  31. ^ Strauss, Neil (January 5, 1996). "New Faces in Grammy Nominations". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
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  33. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Definitive 200". Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  34. ^ "Me Against the World at". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  35. ^ 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.
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  40. ^ a b Insanul, Ahmed (September 30, 2011). "Most Valuable Players: J. Cole's 10 Favorite Albums". Complex. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
  41. ^ Drake, David (October 24, 2012). "Kendrick Lamar's 25 Favorite Albums". Complex. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
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  45. ^ 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.
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  47. ^ Caulfield, Keith (April 27, 2012). "Tupac's Virtual Coachella Appearance Spurs Huge Sales Bump". Billboard. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  48. ^ "If I Die 2Nite by 2Pac on WhoSampled". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
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  57. ^ "Death Around the Corner by 2Pac on WhoSampled". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
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External links[edit]