Behind the Mic: Tupac Shakur’s heartfelt classic ‘Changes’
(Credit: Alamy/Hip Hop Hero)


Behind the Mic: Tupac Shakur's heartfelt classic 'Changes'

Tupac Shakur was one of the most well-known rappers in the world and, during the 1990s, was the go-to artist if you wanted hardcore and passionate gangsta rap. As the primary artist of Dr Dre and Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, Tupac undeniably made massive hits and, before his murder in 1996, was one of the most famous rappers in the world.

Pac, as well as being a talented rapper, was also highly controversial and was, for all intents and purposes, the perpetrator of the east coast vs west coast feud. The bloodshed and horror of the 1990s was primarily down to Shakur and Suge Knight. The rapper, as the son of Afeni Shakur, a political activist and member of the Black Panther Party, naturally had an anti-establishment mindset and, as such, was quite a brash character and highly troublesome character. But still popular.

When we’re looking back at hip hop in the 1990s, we’re looking (for the most part) at two feuding record labels, Death Row Records on the West Coast and Badboy Entertainment on the East Coast. Both companies had their own stars, with Pac signed to Death Row, and Biggie Smalls signed to Bad Boy. Respectively, these two artists, with their affiliates i.e. Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Lil Kim and Diddy, were ruling the rap charts and selling unfathomable amounts of records with their feud actually fuelling sales. 

Tupac knew of his popularity and power, which is why he described his music as “America’s Most Wanted” and, in a 1996 interview with MTV, inferred that Bad Boy “sell a couple of records, we [Death Row] sell large amounts of records.” The rapper was aware of how many units he was actually moving. 

That being said, even though he made some anthems while he was alive such as ‘California Love’ and ‘I Get Around’, many 2pac fans also love his posthumous records. Aside from the famous ‘Ghetto Gospel’ featuring Elton John, one of 2pac’s most beloved posthumous singles is ‘Changes’ featuring the group Talent. Digging deeper, in this article, we’ll be looking Behind the Mic to discover the story behind 2pac’s 1998 hit ‘Changes’ and bring you facts no one else knows about on how this classic was made. 

The song released in 1998 was, in fact, a remixed version of a similar song that the rapper had recorded in 1992 but never released. The song was initially produced by one of 2pac’s producers Big D The Impossible. However, the released version from the rapper’s posthumous Greatest Hits album was the Trackmasters remix of the original.

The song samples Bruce Hornsby’s 1986 song ‘The Way It Is’ and addresses racial tensions, poverty, homelessness, and violence on the streets, saying: “Some things will never change.” However, not all of the lyrics featured in the song were originally for the track. ‘Changes’ is pieced together from several other songs. The verses themselves were pieced together from other material. Some of the verses are from the R U Still Down (Remember Me) album.

The song had such an impact The Vatican surprisingly included it on their MySpace playlist. The other eleven songs include ‘Don Giovanni’ by Mozart, the Vatican’s own ‘Advocata Nostra,’ featuring the voice of Pope Benedict XVI, ‘Uprising’ by Muse and ‘After The Rain’ from Dame Shirley Bassey’s 2009 album, The Performance.

The track performed surprisingly poorly in the US, peaking at 32 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the track reached number three on the UK Singles Chart and did well across Europe, even becoming a number-one hit in Norway and the Netherlands.

One of Pac’s most popular posthumous singles, you can listen to ‘Changes’ in the video below.