Me Against the World
Me Against the World is the third studio album by American rapper 2Pac, released on March 14, 1995, by Interscope Records and Jive Records. Drawing lyrical inspiration from his impending prison sentence, troubles with the police, and poverty, the album is described as being 2Pac's most introspective album. According to 2Pac, Me Against the World was made to show the hip hop audience his respect for the art form. Lyrically, he intentionally tried to make the album more personal and reflective than his previous efforts. The musical production on the album was considered by several music critics to be the best of any of his albums up to that point in his career. Me Against the World features guest appearances from rap group Dramacydal and rapper Richie Rich.
|Me Against the World|
|Studio album by|
|Released||March 14, 1995|
|Singles from Me Against the World|
Released while 2Pac was imprisoned, Me Against the World made an immediate impact on the charts, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200, holding the top spot for four consecutive weeks, and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Dear Mama" was released as the album's first single in February 1995 and would be the album's most successful single, topping the Hot Rap Singles chart, and peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. While 2Pac was in prison, the album over-took Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits as the current best-selling album of the year in the United States.
Me Against the World was eventually certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). At the 38th Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for Best Rap Album and "Dear Mama" was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance. The album received acclaimed reviews by critics, being ranked among the best albums of the 1990s. In 2008, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), in conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, included Me Against the World in its list of the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time.
By 1994, Tupac Shakur, age 23, was already a prominent and controversial rapper. His second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., going Platinum, had entered the top 25 on the Billboard 200, and offered two Gold singles, "I Get Around" and "Keep Ya Head Up", both entering the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100. In rapid succession, however, he had become embroiled in one criminal allegation after another.
All for incidents in 1993, Shakur was sentenced to 15 days of jail for assaulting director Allen Hughes while filming Menace II Society, had seen the charges dropped after he shot two off-duty police officers, and was sentenced to 1.5 to 4.5 years in prison for, with two other men, sexually assaulting a woman.
According to Shakur, Me Against the World aimed to show the hip-hop audience his respect for the art form. Shakur purposefully made Me Against the World's lyrics more personal and reflective than previously. This was widely attributed to Shakur's growing maturity and perhaps an effort to reconcile with his troubled past.
Although originally released by Interscope, the album was later released twice by Amaru Entertainment, the label owned by Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur. The album was recorded at ten different studios, and it was mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering by Brian Gardner. Several critics found the album's musical production the best on any of Shakur's albums to date.
Steve "Flash" Juon of RapReviews, scoring the production a perfect 10 of 10, particularly praised "So Many Tears" and "Temptations". Jon Pareles of the New York Times called the production a "fatalistic calm, in a commercial mold", and added that "while 2Pac doesn't sing, other voices do, providing smooth melody". Yet James Bernard of Entertainment Weekly, dissenting, complained that Shakur's "vocals are buried deep in the mix. That's a shame—if they were more in-your-face, the lackluster beats might be less noticeable."
Me Against the World was really to show people that this is an art to me. That I do take it like that. And whatever mistakes I make, I make out of ignorance, not out of disrespect to music or the art. So Me Against the World was deep, reflective. It was like a blues record. It was down-home. It was all my fears, all the things I just couldn’t sleep about. Everybody thought that I was living so well and doing so good that I wanted to explain it. And it took a whole album to get it all out. It’s explaining my lifestyle, who I am, my upbringing and everything. It talks about the streets but talks about it in a different light. There’s a song on there dedicated to mothers, just a song I wrote just for my mother. And it digs deeper like that. I just wanted to do something for all mothers. I’m proud of that song. It affected a lot of people.— Tupac Shakur
Often depicting the travails of male survival in the ghetto, prominent sentiments include anguish, despair, hopelessness, paranoia, and self-loathing. Such dark tracks, sometimes simultaneously menacing, are "If I Die 2Nite", "Lord Knows", "Outlaw", and "Fuck The World". But there are exceptions. Nostalgic jubilance distinguishes "Old School"—a roster his favorite rap songs, with associated joys, predating his adulthood—while bittersweet optimism occurs in "It Ain't Easy". "Can U Get Away" aims to flirtatiously encourage and lure a romantic interest away from her current, abusive relationship. And the track most popular, "Dear Mama", is a reverent ode to his mother. Throughout the album, Shakur employs various poetical devices, such as alliteration ("If I Die 2Nite") and paired couplets ("Lord Knows").
Me Against the World debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 210,500 copies in the first week. The album ended up holding the top spot for four consecutive weeks. The album also debuted at number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, thus giving 2Pac the first number one album on both R&B and Pop charts. While Shakur was in prison, the album over-took Bruce Springsteen's Greatest Hits as the best-selling album in the United States, a feat which he took pride in. Shakur became the first artist to have a number one album while serving a prison sentence. On December 6, 1995, the album was certified double platinum for sales of over two million copies in the United States. As of September 2011, the album has sold 3,524,567 copies in the United States.
"Dear Mama" was released as the album's first single in February 1995, along with the track "Old School" as the B-side. "Dear Mama" would be the album's most successful single, topping the Hot Rap Singles chart, and peaking at the ninth spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was certified platinum in July 1995, and later placed at number 51 on the year-end charts.
The second single, "So Many Tears," was released in June, four months after the first single. The single would reach the number six spot on the Hot Rap Singles chart, and the 44th on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Temptations," released in August, was the third and final single from the album. The single would be the least successful of the three released, but still did fairly well on the charts, reaching number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100, 35 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and 13 on the Hot Rap Singles charts.
"Me Against the World", the title track, was released as a single in Europe. It included the Soul Power Remix and the Soul Power Hip Hop Remix.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||C+|
Me Against the World received critical acclaim. In a contemporary review, Cheo H. Coker at Rolling Stone called the album Shakur's best and said it was "by and large a work of pain, anger and burning desperation — [it] is the first time 2Pac has taken the conflicting forces tugging at his psyche head-on". Jon Pareles, writing in The New York Times, called Shakur the "St. Augustine of gangster rap" due to his ambivalence towards the behavior and nature of the gangster lifestyle. Steve Huey of AllMusic noted that, with Me Against the World, the rapper became markedly more "confessional," "reflective," and "soul-baring."
"This may be the first hip-hop blues LP," observed Matt Hall in Select. "Not so much in the music, although the harp blasts owe more to Howlin' Wolf than Tupac's previous two solo efforts, but more with Shakur's vocals, which are at once rebellious and resigned ... Me Against the World is a statement of intent, a note from the depths of America, and a fine, thoughtful LP." In The Guardian, critic Caroline Sullivan observed a "surprisingly optimistic" and thoughtful 2Pac on display on the album, deeming it "worth a listen" despite criticizing the presence of "anodyne" beats and predictable samples.
Jaleel Abdul-Adil of the Chicago Sun-Times stated that "2Pac's latest also mixes toughness and tenderness. Desperation follows raw anger on "Fuck the World" and "It Ain't Easy," but most tracks confess frailties beneath the rapper's tough exterior. "Dear Mama" is a tear-jerking tribute to his mother, "Lord Knows" discloses desperate considerations of suicide, and "So Many Tears" ponders a merciless world that wrecks young lives. 2Pac even includes a sorrowful "shout-out" to Robert Sandifer, the Chicago youth whose brief life ended in a brutal shooting. After earlier releases that lacked focus and consistency, 2Pac finally presents a polished project of self-examination and social commentary. It's ironic that it arrives as his sentence begins."
Some reviewers were less impressed. James Bernard from Entertainment Weekly said, "2Pac does the black-man-backed-into-a-corner routine better than just about anyone because that's largely who he is. When he says it's 'me against the world,' there's an urgency that only comes from experience. On record, the rapper-turned-movie icon’s vocals are buried deep in the mix. That’s a shame-if they were more in-your-face, the lackluster beats might be less noticeable." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice said Shakur witlessly exploited fundamental hip hop themes such as persecution while exhibiting an offensive level of self-pity: "His I-love-Mom rings true because Mom was no saint, and his respect for old G's seems genuine, probably because they told him how smart he was. But whether the metaphor be dead homies or suicide threat, the subtext of his persecution complex is his self-regard."
Me Against the World was one of 2Pac's most positively reviewed albums, with many calling it the magnum opus of his career; the work is considered one of the greatest and most influential hip hop albums of all time. In a retrospective review, AllMusic editor Steve Huey dubbed the album "[Shakur's] most thematically consistent, least self-contradicting work", and stated, "it may not be his definitive album, but it just might be his best". Steve "Flash" Juon of RapReviews seemed to feel differently, remarking that the album "is not only the quintessential Shakur album, but one of the most important rap albums released in the 1990s as a whole". On MTV's Greatest Rappers of All Time list, Me Against the World was listed as one of 2Pac's "certified classic" albums, along with 2Pacalypse Now, All Eyez on Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. "One of the best five rap albums ever," remarked Mojo, after Shakur's death.
In 1996, at the 38th Grammy Awards, Me Against the World was nominated for Best Rap Album and the single "Dear Mama" was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance. Me Against the World won Best Rap Album at the 1996 Soul Train Music Awards. In 2008, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, in conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, recognized Me Against the World as one of the "most influential and popular albums", ranking it number 170 on a list of 200 other albums by artists of various musical genres.
|New Nation||UK||Top 100 Albums by Black Artists||49|
|Gary Mulholland||261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco||2006||*|
|Blender||United States||500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die||2003||*|
|Ego Trip||Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980–98||1999||7|
|Nude as the News||The 100 Most Compelling Albums of the 90s||47|
|Pause & Play||Albums Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Album per Week||*|
|Robert Dimery||1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die||2005||*|
|The Source||The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time||1998||*|
|About.com||100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums||10|
|10 Essential Hip-Hop Albums||2008||8|
|Best Rap Albums of 1995||2008||2|
|Complex (magazine)||The 90 Best Rap Albums of the '90s||2014||23|
|RollingOut||The 20 Greatest West Coast Hip-hop Albums Of All Time||2013||2|
Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.
|2.||"If I Die 2Nite"||Easy Mo Bee||4:02|
|3.||"Me Against the World" (featuring Dramacydal)||Soulshock and Karlin||4:41|
|4.||"So Many Tears"||D-Flizno Production Squad||3:59|
|5.||"Temptations"||Easy Mo Bee||5:01|
|7.||"Heavy in the Game" (featuring Richie Rich)||4:24|
|10.||"It Ain't Easy"||Tony Pizarro||4:54|
|11.||"Can U Get Away"||Mike Mosley||5:46|
|13.||"Fuck the World"||Shock G||4:14|
|14.||"Death Around the Corner"||Johnny "J"||4:07|
|15.||"Outlaw" (featuring Dramacydal)||Moe Z.M.D.||4:33|
- Background Vocals on "Me Against the World" performed by Puff Johnson
- Background Vocals on "So Many Tears" performed by Thug Life, Digital Underground & Stretch
- ^[a] signifies a co-producer.
- ^[b] signifies an additional producer.
- "If I Die 2Nite" contains samples from:
- "Me Against the World" contains samples from:
- "So Many Tears" contains a sample from "That Girl", written and recorded by Stevie Wonder.
- "Temptations" contains samples from:
- "Young Niggaz" contains an interpolation of "She's Strange", written by Nathan Leftenat, Charles Singleton, Tomi Jenkins, and Larry Blackmon.
- "Dear Mama" contains:
- "Can U Get Away" contains an interpolation of "Happy Feelin's", written by Frankie Beverly.
- "Old School" contains samples from:
- 2Pac - composer, primary artist, vocals
- Eric Altenburger - art direction, design
- Kim Armstrong - vocals (background)
- Paul Arnold - engineer, Mixing
- Burt Bacharach - composer
- Eric Baker - composer
- Larry Blackmon - composer
- Sam Bostic - composer, producer
- George Clinton - composer
- Hal David - composer
- Kevin "KD" Davis - engineer, mixing
- Digital Underground - guest artist
- Dramacydal - guest artist, performer, primary artist
- Easy Mo Bee - composer
- Eboni Foster - vocals (background)
- Reggie Green - vocals (background)
- Jeff Griffin - mixing
- Greg Jacobs - composer
- Gregory Jacobs - composer
- Johnny J - composer
- Puff Johnson - guest artist, vocals (background)
- Lady Levi - guest artist
- Jay Lean - engineer, mixing
- Eric Lynch - engineer
- Moe Z - composer
- Bob Morris - engineer
- Mike Mosley - composer
- Shirley Murdock - composer
- Tim Nitz - engineer
- Tony "D" Pizarro - composer, engineer, mixing, producer
- Richie Rich - guest artist
- Minnie Riperton - composer, vocals (background)
- Roger - composer
- Jill Rose - vocals
- Richard Rudolph - composer
- Joe Sample - composer
- Garry Shider - composer
- Charlie Singleton - composer
- David Spradley - composer
- Thug Life - guest artist
- Larry Troutman - composer
- Le-Morrious "Funky Drummer" Tyler - composer
- Ronnie Vann - guitar
- Natasha Walker - guest artist, vocals (background)
- Leon Ware - composer
- Brian Gardner - Mastering
- Stevie Wonder - composer
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||3,524,567|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
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