‘Keep Ya Head Up’: 2Pac’s ode to strong Black women
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'Keep Ya Head Up': 2Pac's ode to strong Black women

2Pac’s projects and songs are still some of the most cherished and played songs of all time. Earlier this year, All Eyez On Me surpassed Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt to become the first project from 1996 to reach three billion streams on Spotify. Furthermore, last summer, the emcee officially got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

2Pac (real name Tupac Shakur) has a multitude of legendary and iconic songs. However, ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ may be one of his most impactful and well-known. Released in 1993, ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ was the third single of the legendary project Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. Recorded at Starlight Sound in the Bay Area, the epic song is an ode to black women.

2Pac’s debut album, 2Pacalyspe Now, boasted a range of songs and contained the iconic single ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby,’ a song which focused on teen pregnancy and its effect on young mothers and the wider African-American community.

As a profoundly introspective and socially conscious artist, 2Pac kept making music dedicated to the underappreciated black women he saw around him and, in 1993, released a song dedicated to the late Latasha Harlins.

The song addresses a horrific incident that Ice Cube also touched upon in his song ‘Black Korea’ of a 15-year-old black girl who was shot dead in Los Angeles by a Korean shop owner. It was reported that the perpetrator, Soon Ja Du, thought Harlins was trying to steal a bottle of orange juice.

However, after a short but violent altercation, Ja Du shot Harlins in the back of the head. Many regarded it as a racially motivated attack. Expressing his pride in being African-American, on ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ Shakur raps, “Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice / I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots.”

Speaking on the disservice he believed his community had done to black women, Shakur rapped, “I think it’s time to kill for our women / Time to heal our women, be real to our women / And if we don’t, we’ll have a race of babies / That will hate the ladies that make the babies.”

The iconic single ultimately hears Shakur tell black women to be strong, carry on and “Keep ya head up.” You can listen to the track in the video below.