15 Year Anniversary of Tupac's Death

Tupac Amaru Shakur (also known by his stage name, 2Pac) was one of rap's most influential voices. Waxing poetic on themes like the struggle of poverty, violence, racism, and various other social and political issues, 2Pac had the ability to walk the thin tightrope over mass appeal and street cred — a feat many rappers even today can't boast. 

Unfortunately, it was Shakur's street cred that ultimately led to his premature death, as he was killed in a drive-by shooting on September 13, 1996. There's tremendous speculation surrounding his death. Theories about gangs and label wars have yet to proven. Some even believe that Tupac is still kickin' it in hiding somewhere, working on a masterpiece record. But it's these voodoo beliefs that distract us from what's really important: Tupac's influence.

It's fair to say that Tupac and the messages in his lyrics have had a strong influence on his listeners (I'm pretty sure his fan base grows each year he's gone) — but what about other musicians? I'm sure there are dozens of artists that owe much of their inspiration to Pac and his songs. So, to commemorate this very special anniversary, I've compiled a list of some of my favourite 2Pac songs and the contemporaries they've inspired.

1. As The World Turns

 As the world keeps turnin' round and round   /   (N*ggas die for, how many you n*ggas try for this?)   /   It's gon' be goin' round as the world turns  

"As The World Turns" speaks on the notion that time doesn't stand still. No matter what happens to you, good or bad, the world keeps spinnin' and there's nothing you can do about it. There's always a tomorrow, but it's up to you whether or not that tomorrow is better or worse than today. 

Contemporary comparison:

Everything Is Everything - Lauryn Hill

2. Ambitionz Az A Ridah

To be a soldier, must maintain composure at ease   /   Though life is complicated, only what you make it to be

Here, Pac talks about being the captain of your own destiny. If you have hustle and don't stress, success will come to you. 

Contemporary comparison:

American Gangster - Jay-Z

3. Keep Ya Head Up

You can't complain, you was dealt this   /   Hell of a hand without a man, feelin' helpless   /   Because there's too many things for you to deal with   /   Dying inside but outside you're looking fearless 

"Keep Ya Head Up" is about living the life you were given, no matter how difficult, to the best of your abilities. We can't decide the circumstances under which we're born, but we can choose how to deal with them 

Contemporary comparison:

I Can - Nas

4. Brenda's Got A Baby

I hear Brenda's got a baby well, Brenda's barely got a brain   /   A d*mn shame the girl can hardly spell her name   /   That's not our problem, that's up to Brenda's family   /   Well let me show you how it affects the whole community   /   Now Brenda never really knew her moms and her dad was a junkie...

Much of what we learn in life comes from our family. In "Brenda's Got A Baby," Brenda had no other role models other than her parents, who, unfortunately weren't people a child should look up to. Essentially the listener hears a story of a vicious cycle that's repeated far too often. 

Contemporary comparison:

How To Love - Lil Wayne

5. California Love

California knows how to party / In the citaaay of L.A. / In the citaaay of good ol' Watts / In the citaaay, the city of Compton / We keep it rockin!

This one's all about reppin' your set. Representing your homefront and "not forgetting where you came from." No matter what kind of fame and fortune you find in your future, you'll always be indebted to your hometown.

Contemporary comparison:

Homecoming - Kanye West

Instead of mourning Pac's death, let's celebrate and be grateful for the positive messages he left behind. He'd still want you to hear his words of wisdom even long after his death. RIP.