Today is 2Pac's birthday. Had the young MC lived to see this day, he would have been forty years old. It would take days of paragraphs to capture the impact 'Pac had on society and music in general, particularly hip-hop. A poet, actor, 'hood scholar and the mightiest thug, the name 2Pac is synonymous with greatness, and those who were gone too soon. In honor of the day that birthed the man, here's a rundown of his top five songs.
5. "How Do You Want It" It's always awesome when gangsta rappers take a reprieve from threatening to shoot up entire coasts of people to get sexy. Enlisting the help of K-CI and JoJo from Jodeci to croon and entice the ladies, the video for this joint probably helped hot tub sales go through the roof.
4. "Hail Mary" Ooooh, this joint is just kind of scary. 'Pac gets down into that nasty, threatening growl as he chants after his adversary. This was also during his Don Killuminati phase, so pretty much all these tracks were tinged with paranoia, and it's brilliant.
3. "2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted" featuring Snoop There is no beat that embodies the West Coast more than this track. This collaboration is one of the most compelling partnerships in hip-hop. When this song came out, there were no two more terrifying characters than 'Pac and Snoop. Plus, 2Pac opens with, "break out the champagne and the motherfuckin' condoms." Classic.
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2. "California Love" For the record, 2Pac was born in New York City, but we'll overlook that fact for this timeless homage to the Golden State crafted with the help of Dr. Dre and the infamous Roger Troutman. 2Pac comes across as happy and celebratory on this track. No matter where you live, this one always brings out the Cali love.
1. "Hit Em Up" Controversy, controversy, controversy. "First off, fuck yo' bitch and the clique you claim..." 2Pac's vocals are so angry, it's almost painful to listen to for a second, but he's so raw, you can't turn it off. The wildest part comes at the end and he goes off into left field and just eviscerates Bad Boy Entertainment and damn near everyone affiliated for, perhaps, Puffy's mama.
*Honorable mention: "Keep Ya Head Up" - while 2Pac was most certainly a gangster and a thug, he was also revolutionary. This track is one of many examples.