Review #436: All Eyez On Me, 2Pac

Karla Clifton
4 min readOct 2, 2023

#436: All Eyez On Me, 2Pac

I was wondering when we’d get to 2Pac!

I’ve had some trouble recommitting to this project as school has started up again, and I’ve been pulled in ten thousand different directions. But as often happens, something happened that caused me to get excited about this writing project again.

This Friday, one of the initial witnesses to Tupac Shakur’s death at 25 was indicted for murder, years after the fact. Duane Davis, who wrote a book about what he allegedly witnessed, was found to be the “leader and shot caller” who “ordered” Shakur’s death. The circumstances are pretty terrifying — shot outside a hotel by a stranger in a Cadillac, died of internal bleeding before anything could be done. Awful. That was in Sept 1996, only eight months after this record’s release in February.

So just like with Biggie’s album, some of this record is uncomfortably preoccupied with mortality. Plenty of references to funerals and hearses and his own eventually death (“Got My Mind Made Up,” “Life Goes On,” “Heartz Of Men”). At least it closes on a somewhat bittersweet note with “Heaven Ain’t Hard 2 Find.”

In general, I found 2Pac an extremely thoughtful and introspective, for a rapper that’s known for his diss tracks. He has a Shakespearian sense of drama when it comes to street politics and violence. Pardon my thug poetry, he says in “Tradin’ War Stories,” but suckers is born everyday. No pardoning necessary.

2Pac was on the Dr. Dre and Suge Knight-helmed Death Row Record’s early Nineties roster of talent, which included Snoop and Dre himself. But this was the first album that Death Row put out globally, which is pretty crazy considering that their label debut was Dre’s own The Chronic, AND the fact that this was a two-hour double album.

That means 2Pac’s features rock. Check out Funkadelic’s George Clinton on “Can’t C Me,” Jewell (from The Chronic!) on “Thug Passion,” and the Gandalf of Rap Music, Snoop Dogg, on “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” This is also the first iteration of the Outlaw Immortalz (later the Outlawz), a rap collective that Pac started shortly before his death. They’re featured most prominently on “When We Ride.”

But they were formed prior to the album’s release, and in fact are also on the non-album track released at around this time, which is ironically probably Tupac’s best-known song: “Hit ’Em Up,” a diatribe against anyone else who’s ever dared to rap, basically. He goes for the Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy the hardest, and reportedly wanted the single cover to be Biggie and Puffy’s heads pasted on animals, which, yikes.

Is it nice to write a diss track? No. But I think the psychology behind the diss track is often what makes rap so great. Great rap is arrogant and self-confident and scoffs at anyone in its way. 2pac had it in droves — see “Picture Me Rollin’,” “All Eyez On Me,” “Run Tha Streetz,” and “Ain’t Hard 2 Find.”

The flip side of that is that it often slips into sexist aggression. And 2Pac definitely had problems with women. Right before recording this, Pac was imprisoned for sexual assault. Dre and Knight bailed him out, but you can read the bitterness all over this album. “Skandalouz,” “Holla At Me,” and “Wonda Why They Call U Bytch” all seemed datedly sexist to me.

In any case, my whole household generally enjoyed 2Pac. My boyfriend liked some of the tasty piano tracks (“Ambitionz Az A Ridah” and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha”) and the thickass beats (“Shorty Wanna Be A Thug” and “All About U”). There were some misses, though. The beats in “Only God Can Judge Me” scared my dog. Boyfriend thought that “California Love (remix)” was “ridiculous,” and even I agreed that “What’s Ya Phone #” is dated. Personally, I felt that the whole thing was too long, and songs like “No More Pain,” “Ratha Be Ya N****,” and “Check Out Time” felt superfluous to me.

2Pac is still receiving accolades, believe it or not. In June of this year, he received a star on the Walk of Fame. His music will be around for a long time, whether you like it or not.

Wildest Beef This Record Started: He rips into Civil Rights activist (and rap hater) C. Delores Parker in “How Do U Want It.” She sued him! (Though the case was dismissed.)

Review #435: Actually, Pet Shop Boys

Review #437: Screamadelica, Primal Scream

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