There is simply no doubt that Tupac Shakur‘s legacy will remain untarnished for decades to come as he proceeds to be one of the most widely adored hip hop artists of all time. Forget T-Pain’s ill-advised comments that he would be “ate the fuck up” in modern rap, Shakur is a bona fide legend for a reason.
The rapper wasn’t just a landmark lyricist or extremely gifted performer; he was, in no uncertain terms, the voice of a generation, the leading light of his field and, like many heroes before him, he is remembered as an icon. We’re looking back at the singer’s impressive discography in one perfect playlist.
Of course, part of Pac’s icon status comes from his sad demise. At the height of his fame, amid a flurry of flashing lights and media drama, Pac was gunned down as he began to peak. Though his killer remains at large, it has left Pac remembered as a figure who can never get old, fat or boring. He is Makaveli, and his memory will now never be washed away. When you dive into this 299-track playlist, chronicling his extensive career, we get a real sense of his brilliance.
It’s easy to point to Tupac’s death as a primary reason for his legendary status, and it certainly played a part. However, the real reason that Tupac Shakur is still as highly valued and trusted as he once was is that the artist was authentic in every sense of the word. Not only was he unafraid to throw a fist or put up a middle finger when he felt himself being corralled into a situation that he didn’t think was worthy. Likewise, musically, Pac was so self-assured in his talent that he was happy to kill any beat, any time anywhere.
Of course, Shakur was blessed with a natural rhythm and was more than capable of applying himself off the cuff to any situation. But the real reason his work is so highly respected is that he committed himself to the craft. We are given a piece of Pac on every song and within every album. Unashamedly, he cut himself to see the blood; unreservedly, he taught us that the world was a dangerous place if we let it pass us by and, because of this, he became an unequivocal hero.
From his debut album 2Pacalypse Now all the way up to 2019’s posthumous brilliance California Love, the singer’s tracks are powerful. Perhaps the most exciting point of this playlist is noticing the high standards maintained in the releases that came under Pac’s eye and following his tragic death in 1997.
There are 299 reasons to remember Pac as one of the greats within the playlist. Alongside his feature-length studio albums, there are also live records and previously unheard b-sides and rarities. It provides a holistic view of a hip hop icon.