2Pac, Me Against the World (March 14, 1995)
Me Against The World was recorded in the months between his November 1994 conviction on sexual assault charges and his imprisonment in February 1995. It was the first rap album to serve as a pre-incarceration “farewell letter.” Unlike later examples of this somewhat perverse mini-genre (see T.I.’s Paper Trail and C-Murder’s The Truest Shit I Ever Said), 2Pac mostly avoided re-arguing his case. The name-calling against the Notorious B.I.G. and Sean “Diddy” Combs, who he accused (along with Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant and Jimmy Rosemond) of setting him up during the Quad Studios shooting, came while he was imprisoned, and before Death Row Records bailed him out of jail in late 1995 pending appeal. With so much drama and violence having occurred, and much more to come, Me Against the World sounded like an oasis, and a brief period for 2Pac to reflect on his mess of a life. “So Many Tears” and “It Ain’t Easy” are elegiac and remorseful, while “If I Die 2Nite” and “Lord Knows” found him fearful for his sanity. So why, at album’s end, does he choose to be an “Outlaw,” and praise an 11-year-old boy for making a similar choice? “They’ll remember me through history/ Causing motherfuckers to bleed,” he raps on “Outlaw.” “My only thought is open fire/ Hit the district attorney/ And fuck that bitch cause she’s a liar.” Ultimately, it’s easier to relate to 2Pac as an artist than justify some of the personal decisions he made. Over three years earlier on 2Pacalypse Now, he offered “Part Time Mutha,” a stinging indictment of his mother Afeni Shakur’s struggles with crack addiction. Yet by Me Against the World, he returned with “Dear Mama.” “Even as a crack fiend mama/ You were always a black queen mama,” he rapped. There was little peace in his life, but he found it in his words. Producers include Shock G (“So Many Tears”), Tony Pizarro (“Dear Mama”), and Mike Mosley (“Can You Get Away”). Richie Rich appears on the Mosley-produced “Heavy in the Game”) and Dramacydal appears on the title track and “Outlaw.” Interscope.