Our Top 10 Tupac Shakur songs list looks at a musical artist also known as 2Pac sold more than 75 million albums, making him one of the best-selling rap artists of all time. An interesting fact about Tupac is that his birth name was Lesane Parish Crooks. However, on June 29, 1971, his mother changed his name to Tupac Amaru Shakur. Originally, his father did not want his son to have this name as he feared Tupac to be targeted by family enemies affiliated with the black panthers. 2Pac had a short life. He was known to live by the gun, die by the gun, and precisely what happened. He was gunned down in Las Vegas after coming back from a boxing match. His murder is still unsolved.
Tupac Shakur is one of the best-selling rap artists of all time. In 2002, Tupac Shakur was inducted in the Hip Hop Hall of Fame. In 2003, MTV viewers voted him the greatest MC. In 2017, Tupac Shakur was Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (first year of eligibility). Rolling Stone named 2Pac as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Although he is most known for his incredible rap style, being one of the best rappers of all time, he was also an actor. some of his more notable film include Juice in 1992, Poetic Justice (Co-starring fellow musician Janet Jackson) Above the Rim, Bullet (released one month after his death) and Gang Related which was released on year after he passed away.
As you can see, Tupac Shakur was a multi-talented individual. Although Tupac Shakur had released four albums before death and another six came out posthumously, we will be referencing the greatest hits album. This was a duel-disk album released after his death containing twenty five of his most beloved songs. Although you may find these songs on other albums, you can find each of these songs on 2Pac: Greatest Hits.
#10 – I Get Around
Coming in at #10 on our Tupac Shakur songs list is “I Get Around.” Although this song had much commercial success, it is not often on 2Pac’s top 10 lists. However, many of 2Pac’s most beloved songs showcase his incredible talent as a lyricist. They are also more of a social commentary, shining a light on the parts of life most people want to ignore.
However, like most artists and people in general, 2Pac had more than one side to his personality. Whereas he is very skilled in fitting the real world into songs that impact people, he also had a fun and carefree side. This song is one of his earlier songs that really showcase his fun and lighthearted side. It also has a fantastic beat and is still a great jam. It also has a verse that features Shock G, a rapper from the Digital Underground known for the massive hit “Humpty Dance.”
# 9 – How Do You Want It?
“How Do You Want It,” like many other popular commercial songs of any genre, is about sex. They say sex sells, and this song came through. This track came out in the summer of 1996, and it hit #1 and stayed there for 8 weeks. It is unfortunate that his first real commercial success, a song topping the charts for 2 straight months, did not happen until a few short months before his life ended.
2Pac raps on this sound backed up by the R&B Duo K-Ci and Jojo. The rap was flawless, and the transition to the R&B chorus was perfect. This song, and the video, are as sexual as any music can be. Although not much for social commentary again (although he still manages to mention some prominent US Politicians in a song entirely about sex) – this song was one of the most popular songs in the summer of 1996. It was an essential jam for any party or get-together.
# 8 – California Love
“California Love,” was Tupac Shakur’s first number one hit, and it features legendary rapper, producer, and now businessman Dr. Dre. One of the main reasons 2Pac signed with Death Row Records is because he wanted to work with Dr. Dre. This ended up being his first release as a Death Row artist; he performed with Dre and got his first #1 hit out of it.
This was also released in the Summer of 1996 as a B-Side to “How Do You Want It,” which became immensely popular. Listening to this sound, you would never know 2Pac was not originally from the sunshine state, especially with the East Coast / West Coast beef he was involved with, The Notorious BIG.
# 7 – So Many Tears
We are now moving past the fun party and dance songs to some of the tracks the 2Pac is really known for – deep thoughts, feelings, and lyrics that both cut deep and make you feel like you know 2Pac as he is bearing his soul through spoken word.
Shock G was involved with this track as well, but this time it was as a producer. This song is about losing people through death and the sadness and paranoia of living a fast life and not being able to trust anyone anymore. Death was a constant theme throughout 2Pac’s music, and this song was no different. It is sad but is still done well with great lyrics and a superior beat.
# 6 – Hail Mary
“Hail Mary,” was released under Pac’s alias, Makaveli. This album was released 2 months after the murder of 2Pac. While he was in prison, he read many the philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, and he related to his philosophies. With the type of social commentary 2Pac provided in his music, it made sense that he would relate to Machiavelli as this philosopher is known as the father of modern political science and political philosophy.
The song is good, “Hail Mary” itself is fascinating because it has been reported that he wrote and recorded this song in 30 minutes during the summer of 1996. The music is about Tupac zoning out all the violence around him and praying to God. There are many biblical and religious references in the song. Even though it did not have huge commercial success when released, it still made it to the greatest hits album and is one of the more well-known songs from his catalog.
# 5 – I Ain’t Mad at Cha
This is a deeply personal song about people 2Pac has forgiven for either changing or judging him because he got money now. However, it was released right after his murder, making this song feel a little bit too close for most people. It was almost like he was talking to everyone from heaven.
The video was shot before his death, and in this video, someone opens fire on a friend, and he gets shot, dies, and goes to heaven. The whole thing is sad and chilling.
However, the actual song is excellent. The beat is amazing, the lyrics are deep – showing his forgiveness for all different situations and why people might feel a specific way. However, he rose above it all, learning how to forgive everyone. This is an impressive message that most people can learn from, even more remarkable as 2Pac was only 25 when he died. So, he came to this mature outlook at a very young age.
# 4 – Changes
“Changes” is a painfully deep and naked song about being a non-white American. It is heartbreaking and sad, but it is raw, authentic, and accurate.
Although the song is clearly about wanting changes, the song’s central theme is “that is just the way it is,” as well as “Some things never change.” This song has withstood the test of time, and although it is more than 25 years old, the lyrics and meaning are precisely the same today as it was when he wrote it. In Fact, this song has been used in the background of videos about BLM and the murder of George Floyd.
This is a profoundly good sound, but it is political, as Pac was very political. It can be hard to listen to and evoke emotions for any listener regardless of who they are or their station in life.
# 3 – To Live and Die in LA
This is another song similar to California Love, a song about his love for his adopted home. He loved LA – everything about it, regardless of the neighborhood. This song did not come out until after his death, so it felt like a great big thank you for all that LA gave him in his short life. The sound includes shout-outs to the radio stations that played his music, other rap artists, neighborhoods, the people of different ethnic groups that lived there, and more. This is another party song that people still turn to in the summertime to celebrate life.
# 2 – Life Goes On
This is another painful song about dealing with death. This is specifically about falling victims to the street, which of course, is what happened to him. It also talks about how he is living thug life until he dies and what his funeral will be like. Many of his songs talked about his death, death of friends, and death based on life on the streets. Although this theme is prevalent in “Life Goes On,” “Changes,” “I Ain’t Mad at Cha,” and “So Many Tear,” these songs are all individual and different, unique in their own ways. Most people would put each of these songs in 2Pac’s top 10 all-time song lists.
# 1 – Hit ‘Em Up
Finally, we have made it to number one on our Tupac Shakur songs list. This song is not a fun party song, nor is it a song that tells others what life on the street is like. No, “Hit ‘Em Up” is a diss track. This is not only the best song made by 2Pac (even though he lets other rappers do most of the verses) but the best diss track of all time.
On June 4, 1996, this song came out at attacked Biggie, Diddy, Lil Kim, and anyone associated with Bad Boy Records or even just east coast rap. He came for all of them. And as far as a diss track goes – it was fabulous, explosive, and explicit.
Most people only familiar with the other songs on this list which include fun, carefree party songs or deep life on the streets meets political themes, would be shocked to hear the anger and rage in 2Pac’s voice and the lyrics he spits. However, as far as diss songs go, this is a song other people have been trying to live up to for 25 years.
Top 10 Tupac Shakur Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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