Tupac's 'Me Against the World' Topped Billboard 200 20 Years Ago Today: A Retrospective

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Tupac Shakur photographed in New York City on April 2, 1994.

Tupac Shakur was a complex being.

One minute, he'd be spitting at the camera, with middle fingers raised, and facing assault charges. And the next, he'd be scribing poetry of resilience; hopelessly hoping for freedom, internally and externally. Love or hate Pac’s audacity, he was undisguised.

What Critics Said About Tupac's 'Me Against the World' 20 Years Ago

His third studio album, Me Against the World, placed you face-to-face with 2Pac's demons.

The full-length, which debuted at No. 1 while he was incarcerated, starts with audio snippets of news anchors reporting Pac’s controversial encounters and legal troubles. Me Against the World progresses as a confessional. He spits through insomnia-inducing paranoia ("I'm hearing voices" or "If I wasn’t high, I'd probably try and blow my brains out"), the crippling effect of poverty, friends he lost while imprisoned and self-loathing ("I know my destiny is hell, where did I fail? ... When I die, baptized in eternal fire").

There’s a looming eeriness to the album, as Pac’s fears of sudden death manifested into clairvoyance of his tragic future. A year after the release of the album, on Sept. 7, 1996, he was gunned down and killed.

A look inside the mind of one of the most polarizing artists of all time, Me Against the World debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on April 1, 1995 -- 20 years ago today. Me Against the World is 2Pac's longest-running No 1 on the Billboard 200, spending four consecutive weeks at the top.

It’s his second best-selling studio album, selling 2.4 million copies to date in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, following All Eyez on Me with 4.5 million. It’s his third bestselling set overall; his best is a 5.1 million-selling greatest-hits album.