Today marks the 27th anniversary of Tupac’s debut album 2Pacalypse Now. We explore the issues raised by Tupac within the songs on the album.
They claim that I’m violent, just cause I refuse to be silent
Today marks the 27th anniversary of the release of Tupac’s debut studio album, 2Pacalypse Now. Released on November 12th 1991, 2Pacalypse Now is ‘Pac’s hard-hitting commentary on the social issues in American society. Some of these issues include racism, poverty, police brutality and teenage pregnancy.
Released through Interscope and produced by Atron Gregory, Big D, Live Squad, Shock G, Raw Fusion and Pee-wee, ‘2Pacalypse Now’ introduced the world to a rebellious 20 year old revolutionary, who would continue fighting for what was right, as he was a child of the 70’s revolution, being raised in a household of Black Panthers.
Even though it was his debut album, Tupac knew that it wasn’t for the radio. It was for the people in the struggle, to give them hope. For the media and political figures of the day, to take note of the issues facing young, black youth, who were down trodden and living in poverty.
Given the issues ‘Pac was rapping about, there was always going to be controversy of some sort, in this case trying to blame his lyrics for violent crime being committed. In April 1992, Ronald Ray Howard was pulled over by Texas state trooper Bill Davidson for having a broken headlight. As officer Davidson approached Ronald’s vehicle, he was shot in the neck with a 9mm pistol.
When arrested he revealed that he had been listening to Tupac’s song ‘Soulja’s Story’ which tells of the harsh life of a young black male who is pulled over by an officer who eventually gets shot. Ronald Ray Howard was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
After the shooting of the Texas state trooper, the the U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle publicly criticized the album, saying in a statement, “There’s no reason for a record like this to be released. It has no place in our society”
Three singles were released from ‘2Pacalypse Now’, which were ‘Trapped’, ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ and ‘If My Homie Calls’. ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ features R&B singer David Hollister from the group Blackstreet. The song explores teen pregnancy and it’s effects on young mother’s. Tupac read a story in a newspaper about a 12 year old girl pregnant to her cousin and threw the baby onto a trash compactor.
2Pacalypse Now closes out on a strong note with ‘Part Time Mutha,’ a song delving into the effects of drug addiction, child negligence, and sexual assault from the vantage point of a hardened young man, an abused teenage girl, and a single father. A very brutal account of broken homes and an effective finale to 2Pacalypse Now.
The album is filled with the harsh realities that Tupac had faced, all at the age of just 20. The powerful message to the government and media – the issues that the people in the hood experience and for them to pay attention and make change.
When asked about his debut album, Tupac said it was a ‘War Cry’ and that the people have got to stand strong. He continues; “2pacalypse Now is a battle cry, a no-bullshit record about how we really live and really feel. Hip hop’s a mirror reflection of our culture today. Everything put on wax will be remembered and ‘Pray’ is not how we’re living in the ’90s. It’s up to the rap audience to decide the future of rap music. If you want it to be that bubblegum ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’ bullshit, that’s what it’s gonna be. But if you want it to be real, you have to stick with the real niggas. If not, they’re going to take this industry away from us. It’s gonna be a white thing, just like they did with rock ’n’ roll. I’m speaking truth. We’ve got to stand strong.”
Although the lowest selling release of ‘Pac’s career, ‘2Pacalypse Now’ was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1995. It put his name in the spotlight and, in turn, the issues that Tupac was raising were being talked about came to the attention of the media.
In 2016, to commemorate the album’s 25th anniversary, it was released on vinyl and cassette.