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.
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.