2Pac: The Most Overrated AND Underrated MC Of All-Time

OK… before anyone says it… it has nothin’ to do with the fact that this fella is my favorite MC. I was never of the belief that I had to dislike one in order to like the other. I never really got into the taking of sides while that shit was goin’ on, and I don’t even compare them to each other today. I’ve always felt that the only reason people connect them anyway is because they’re both deceased and the rivalry they had when they were alive- the same way people still compare Jay-Z and Nas because they had a feud nine years ago. To me, 2Pac and B.I.G. as two almost completely different things musically, both of which I like for different reasons. They shared some of the same subject matter, but that’s where it stops.

Now that I got that out the way… Being a lifelong hip-hop enthusiast, I’ve had all kinds of Tupac Shakur convos over the years- before and after he died, pro and con, in real life and online. If nothing else, he’s always been one that gets a strong reaction one way or the other. Rarely have I ever had a convo about him with someone who doesn’t feel some kind of way about his music, or about him as an individual. But at times, the love AND hate he’s gotten have bordered on insane- which is why I can say, ‘Pac is the most overrated and underrated of all-time. Let’s speak on it.

2Pac Is Overrated by no fault of his own. It has less to do with anything on his part than it does with his fans. I don’t mean “his fans” as in people who respect him as an artist, and enjoy his music as well as his acting. I mean “his fans” as in… those fans, and anyone who’s known a “Tupac fan” before knows what that means. Although I like a lot of ‘Pac’s music, I’d never go as far as to make him an equivalent of Jesus Christ. Nor as some kind of new-age equivalent of Malcolm X. Nor as the big bad wolf that the whole rap world was petrified of because he made songs about them. Last year, I even had a dude tell me that if ‘Pac was still alive today, there would be a third political party. Nigga, please.

The extreme levels to which some people will go with the ‘Pac worship just blows shit way out of proportion. And it’s nothing he has any control over, but it definitely adds to why some (including myself) feel like his greatness has been greatly exaggerated. Of course, most artists who die are going to be canonized to some degree, but Pac’s canonization has reached unrealistic levels. Who was once a controversial MC/actor with a few socially relevant things to say has become a military leader, a martyr, and a biblical figure all in one.

At the same time… 2Pac Is Underrated because his lyrics tend to be hyper-criticized. It almost seems like those who do this are combating the overrating by downplaying his work altogether. ‘Pac has never (to my knowledge) professed to be some sort of “super-lyrical” MC who pushed the limits of vocabulary or had the most complex flows. For those who judge a lyricist’s worth on those things alone, 2Pac isn’t much. They’ll contend that he isn’t as technically skilled by the standards that they measure their favorites on, and thus, he’s not great at all. But what he didn’t have in those areas, he more than made up for in the depth of his words and his delivery.

There are some rappers whose lyrics may look amazing on paper, but have never evoked any feeling at all when it comes out in stereo. One of ‘Pac’s most outstanding strengths is that while he rarely tried to get too fancy with the wordplay, he’s said some really poignant shit and drove home every point, which goes a much longer way. So what if he never told a story in reverse, or rhymed about the evolution of man and how different races and religions began, or dropped long-ass battle raps… that wasn’t his angle to begin with, and it didn’t make his best stuff any less great. Much like Ice Cube and Scarface, who also didn’t care too much for the gymnastics, he was straight to the point- and more often than not, he made his words count.

So all in all… that’s why I feel ‘Pac has been both grossly overrated and underrated at the same time. Just like there’s people who’ve seen fit to suddenly make shit like 2Pacalypse Now out to be a classic… there’s people who out-and-out refuse to acknowledge the quality of his most defining albums. Some think he was God, some think he was garbage. Me? I’m just somewhere in the middle. There’s stuff I like (most of his official ’94-’96 output), stuff I don’t (a great deal of his early shit), and some I’ll probably never bother to listen to (most of those doctored albums they put together after his death). I give him all the props in the world for the great stuff he did (in music and real life), but I can still say he did some wack shit too (in music and real life).

Today, Tupac is 39 and lives in Cuba would’ve been 39. And like I said in the earlier part of this post, he still gets strong reactions, and his music is still played and respected everywhere. Whether for or against, that alone is a testament to how important he is, which I don’t think anyone on either side of the coin could ever dispute. R.I.P.

“If My Homies Call” (1991)

“Holler If Ya Hear Me” (1993)

“Definition Of A Thug Nigga” (1993)

“Out On Bail” (1994)

“Pour Out A Little Liquor” (1994)

“Only Fear Of Death” (1994)

“My Block” (1995)

“Life Goes On” (1996)

“Me & My Girlfriend” (1996)

“Staring Through My Rear View” (1997)

“Never Had A Friend Like Me” (1997)

“I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto” (1997)

-D!

22 Responses to 2Pac: The Most Overrated AND Underrated MC Of All-Time

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well being as tho we have had the convo about how I feel about Pac I would say that this is exactly how I feel about him. To me, Pac really didnt have great word play at all. To me, it sounded like he repeated himself a lot. But some songs he did made you listen and understand his pain, his right, or whatever it is that he wanted you to feel at that time. Brenda’s Got A Baby will always be my fave. It was the first song I ever heard by him and two at the time when it came out I was 12 and the song made me aware and made me cautious. I always called Tupac a walking contradiction. Tupac could be a gentleman at times and then switch to full nigga mode in two seconds flat. I will always respect Tupac and just like everyone else I think about where the rap game would be if he didnt die or what would have become of his life if he would have lived.

    • MsYoung81 says:

      And I have no clue why that just came up anonymous. LMAO!!!

    • Danj! says:

      I feel ya… I’ve felt like Pac isn’t one to be measured on the “rappin’ ass rapper” scale, which doesn’t mean he isn’t great in his own right. It just means he rarely ever attempted to go there (although he did have his moments). But I say the same about a lotta rappers such as himself, Cube, Scarface, Slick Rick, etc. They may not have been the most wordy, but they made great songs still.

      But yeah, I wonder where the music, and his music, woulda gone had he lived.

      -D!

  2. Mark Dub says:

    Man…I was a Pac fan, and did all of the shit that you said that you didn’t….hate on B.I.G.’s shit, pick sides….all of that. Still, at the ends of their careers and tragic demises, I began to really LISTEN to both, and grew to love B.I.G. as an artist. I love Pac’s Me Against the World album, and like a few songs that followed, but feel that your analysis of him is spot on in how I feel about his stuff now. I have friends who still thinks that Pac is the G.O.A.T. Me? Not so much.

    • Danj! says:

      Me Against The World, to me, is where he really came into his own. He finally started getting production to match his rhymes, he developed the “Pac flow” that he’s known most for, he pulled it all together for that one.

      I mean, as far as him being the G.O.A.T. I might not agree, but he’s def. arguable for it. I wouldn’t say it was a totally ridiculous claim if someone said it, cause he def. has his own legacy.

      -D!

  3. Tallhustla says:

    I have to say this is exactly what I tell a lot of people about 2pac. He was a great rapper, but there wasn’t a lot of wit in his writting. Not that he was even trying to be witty, but I think when you talk about greatness in lyricism you think about rappers that use the words in such a way to almost speak over your head and slip a few witty lines by you that you may only pick up on a second or third listen. Now 2pac was a beast with his raw emotion and he did a hell of a job making you feel what he was saying, but I hated a lot of his earlier songs. I just think that by 2pac embracing and then personifying the Thug Life late in his career as a listener you got less of message and just straight thug rap. Great rapper… activist and G.O.A.T. not so much… No hate just an assessment

    • Danj! says:

      Right…

      LOL @ the ‘activist’ stuff too. And again, he definitely had a bit more to say than a lot of others did during that time. He had his more street/angry shit, but he also said a lot of real stuff just as far as his own life- which I think is his biggest contribution… a lot of rappers talked about the streets, and the things that go on in the world, etc. But I think Pac was one of the first that really brought his life out through his music. He definitely inspired that in a lot of artists that followed.

      -D!

  4. Tallhustla says:

    First time on the site by the way… great posts, I loved the 90’s!

  5. […] 2Pac is the most underrated of all time……Danj Loves the 90s […]

  6. sickwitit says:

    completely cosign everything danj, i feel the same way about jay/bey, the stans ruin shit for me…alright my fav pac songs:

    1. all eyes on me
    2. hail mary
    3. temptations
    4. brenda’s got a baby
    5. keep ya head up
    6. dear mama
    7. if i die tonight

    bonus: ambitionz of a ridah

    • Danj! says:

      Ha… the stans are the ones… cause even at some point, they used to have me damn near on hater mode with all that (as I like to call it) “Malcolm X shit”. There’s still people I know who kiiiillllll me with that, but it ain’t his fault, LOL.

      Good picks there- I was just rockin’ to ‘If I Die 2nite’ and ‘Temptations’ the other day actually. Yep!

      -D!

  7. escobar300 says:

    Pac did alot for the rap game. He was the first one to put out a double album, He brought tattoos into the mix and made it a standout within the culture to this day for better or worst. He was able to mix street suavvy with political conscious rap and at the same time not looking corny. Lets not forget that he’s one of those few rappers that can make songs for the women that were so dope that even niggas couldnt front on them.

    Theres alot of rappers that are stans of Pac as well. Mainly Eminem and Ja Rule because Eminem said himself that he considered himself White Pac and Ja Rule said that he was Pac. Remember that Tupac Clone that was signed to Death Row? LOL He’s clearly the most influential emcee Ive seen.

    I feel that he always get shunned because he isnt technical on the mic like that of a Nas, Andre 3000 or a Eminem but none of these guys could put out a song thats sick as Ambitionz as a Ridah or White Manz World.

    • Danj! says:

      “Y’all niggas wanna see Pac come back? He’s here nigga, he’s here”… was the funniest shit ever in life. The downfall of Ja Rule can be traced to that moment, which was the beginning of him talkin’ crazy, which eventually led to him talkin’ crazy about Aftermath, and then they buried him, lol.

      But yeah, Pac gets shunned a lot… by some people, you would think he was the most ABC rapper on Earth, which is nowhere near true. He could do that technical-lyrical-MC thing when he did it, but that wasn’t what he was aiming for with most of his songs. It’s like someone dissing BIG for not rhyming about ‘conscious’ stuff- that wasn’t his aim, so why would he?

      -D!

      • hieroglyphics says:

        Hey man, that was a great read,I feel the same about Tupac. In my opinion he wasn’t the embodiment of your traditional understanding of what an emcee is. But he had songs that showed he was capable of incorporating a technical style to his rhymes and flows. I guess he wasn’t all for wanting to be the illest MC. It seems like the only way to achieve his goals were to be the person he was and be that type of MC. He has left us with great songs and I think music is more than how technical an artist can be with his instrument.

  8. Joey 9 says:

    I remember that clone dude, he was on the Chronic 2000 that deathrow put out….lmao. He sounded like Big rapping with Pac’s style and a west coast accent.

    Everybody knows I am probably the worst mufucka to have a debate about Pac with, so I’ll just list some of my favorites –

    Blasphemy – Makaveli
    All About You – All Eyes on Me
    Krazy – Makaveli
    Holla at Me – All Eyes on Me
    Only God Can Judge Me – All Eyes on Me
    Wonder Why They Call You Bitch – All Eyes On Me
    When We Ride – All Eyes On Me
    Picture Me Rollin – All Eyes on Me
    Death Around the Corner – Me against the World
    If I Die Tonight – Me against the World
    Temptations – Me Against the World

    and the list goes on……..Tallhustla is probably the most accurate on this topic tho. It was the emotion that made u feel his shit. Dude was an actor too, so its tricks that you can use from that to further your rap career – ie. Drake…lmao.

    The way I look at it, Pac never really rapped, he just made STATEMENTS that rhymed…..

    • Danj! says:

      Yo… I was waitin’ to see you weigh in on this topic actually… c/s on all the songs you listed, esp. ‘Blasphemy’, ‘If I Die 2nite’, and ‘Only God…’

      And yep, you said it just like I did- he brought feeling out thru his songs that a lot of rappers didn’t, which goes a long way when conveying a message. He def. had some throwaway joints too, but his best stuff stands tall when compared against anybody else’s best stuff.

      -D!

  9. dinastyinc says:

    By no means am I Pac stan. Hell, I can’t even consider myself a fan because it wasn’t until long AFTER his death that I began to delve into his music. (I only liked “California Love” while he was alive.) Do I have entire albums of his on my iPod? Hell no. Do I have damn near 20 songs of his that never get old to me? Hell yeah.

    Tupac’s thug image frightened me, much like the majority of America. #iseeu C. Delores Tucker. I didn’t grow up in the HOOD hood, so I didn’t understand the madness. But what I can say now, that he was an educated thug who I think battled with demons until the day he died. He was placed on this pedastal and couldn’t be what the world wanted him to be, a modern-day savior.

    He had some great moments, much like his ‘opponent’ BIG, who Pac happened to “murder on wax” with a classic diss record. Glad we still have tunes from both artists that we can throw on and reminisce at any time we please.

  10. Danj! says:

    Delores Tucker, you’s a muthafucka! HAAAAA

    I def. understood his appeal tho’- he was like that person every generation has that represented their resistance to authority. I feel like that was his biggest connection, but yeah, at the same time it seems like the persona overcame the person.

    -D!

  11. hieroglyphics says:

    Hey man, that was a great read,I feel the same about Tupac. In my opinion he wasn’t the embodiment of your traditional understanding of what an emcee is. But he had songs that showed he was capable of incorporating a technical style to his rhymes and flows. I guess he wasn’t all for wanting to be the illest MC. It seems like the only way to achieve his goals were to be the person he was and be that type of MC. He has left us with great songs and I think music is more than how technical an artist can be with his instrument.

  12. Fan says:

    I am a HUGE fan from tupac. I don’t believe he is god jezus or a politican. I believe he was a rebel, and he was hated for that. The media did crucify him in some way. He was blamed for many things that happened. “I dont know how to be responsable for what every young black male does”. He was under rated for his superiority i think. He could have been a great poet, Actor, Musician. And i believe he would have changed rap after 2000’s.

    You can’t tell me his lines are not deep, strong and good. But i have to admit that he doesn’t reach some other rappers technicly.
    He is over rated by people who think he faked his death and was jezus god and stuff. But he is under rated by common people and by the media.

  13. videos de beurette…

    […]2Pac: The Most Overrated AND Underrated MC Of All-Time « DanjLovesThe90s![…]…

  14. Nathaniel Dolce says:

    You perfectly articulated my thoughts about 2Pac. The Gza from Wu Tang is, in my opinion, by far the most technically skilled MC ever but his delivery is nowhere near Pac’s. Doesn’t make one or the other better or worse. Just different. I appreciate the artistry of Gza and the dramatic emotions of Pac. If I’m in a mood where I want to hear some gangster ass shit I’ll bump the Wu. but if I wanna hear some (still gangster but…) emotional shit, I’m putting on Pain by Pac. It’s all good. Pac was a legend, but it doesn’t just have to be Pac and everyone else. Very good article, brother.

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