Top Ten Songs by Tupac Shakur

Seeing as we just passed the 10-year anniversary of the death of Tupac Shakur on September 13, 2006, it seems only fitting that we look back on his body of work and call out the top 10 songs of one of hip-hop’s most controversial and influential artists.

1) Hit ‘Em Up – Recorded at the peak of the feud between East and West coasts and more specifically between Tupac and archrival Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls), Shakur holds absolutely nothing back on this anger-fueled track. From the opening moments when Tupac claims to have had sex with Smalls’ wife, R&B singer Faith Evans, to the end where he calls out the entire Bad Boy label this track is one of the most hard hitting and vengeful recordings in rap history. This is Shakur at his absolute “thug life” best, saying exactly how he felt and pulling no punches. A classic.

2) I Get Around – Off of Tupac’s second album, “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z,” Shakur is radically different here than on “Hit ‘Em Up.” Tupac is whimsical and clever on this track as he teams up with Digital Underground, the group that gave Shakur his start in the industry, on one of his first big hits. The infectious beat and light-hearted nature of the song still make this a favorite for any ’90s music aficionado.

3) Brenda’s Got A Baby – One of things that truly differentiated Shakur and made him unique was his ability to vary the message and tone of his songs and rarely was the message any stronger or the tone any more somber than in this classic tale about the pregnancy of a 12-year-old girl named Brenda. A modern day tragedy laid out beautifully by Tupac.

4) California Love – The consummate party song, “California Love” featured Tupac and Dr. Dre doing a masterful job of hyping life on the left coast and an infectious beat that got heads noddin’. “California Love” became something of an anthem for hip-hop culture on the west coast.

5) Same Song – One of my personal favorite songs of all-time, this classic would’ve ranked higher if not for the fact that Tupac is merely featured on the cut while Digital Underground does most of the heavy lifting. This track is historically significant though as it is recognized as Shakur’s debut on the rap scene.

6) Dear Momma – A heart-warming slow ballad from Shakur to his mother, laying out some of the problems he had with his mom, how he learned from her and now looking back how much he appreciated it. It’s just another example of Tupac’s amazing versatility.

7) Troublesome ’96 – Back to the angry and fiery Shakur for the seventh entry on this list, “Troublesome ’96” boasts a fierce bass line and inspired lyrics as Tupac once again tells a story about the hopelessness of life in the ghetto for young African-American men. Often overlooked, this is a very powerful song.

8) Letter 2 My Unborn Child – A product of Tupac’s “Makaveli” persona, this song was one of the few uplifting and contemplative tracks on the posthumously released “Until The End Of Time,” and deserves a place among Shakur’s top 10.

9) Me Against The World – Tupac lets his desperation and some would say paranoia shine through in this track as Shakur waxes poetic about his life. He drops some classic rhymes in this track, starting off with a verse about killing and coming full circle for his final verse about the importance of striving for self-improvement.

10) 2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted – It’s really a toss up here with songs like “To Live And Die In LA” and “Keep Ya Head Up” deserving of this spot as well, but the inclusion of Snoop Doggy Dogg and the infectious beat give it the nod to round out the top 10 songs of Tupac Shakur.

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