Tupac Shakur Drops ‘All Eyez On Me’ Album – Today in Hip-Hop
On this day, Feb. 13, in hip-hop history...
1996: One of hip-hop's most monumental albums dropped on this very day in 1996, when Tupac Shakur released his fourth studio album, All Eyez on Me. The 27-track double LP served as the legendary MC's first project to be released via Death Row Records and subsequently, the last album Tupac would release before his passing in September of that year.
In October of 1995, after serving nine months of a prison sentence that stemmed from his 1995 conviction on sexual assault charges, Shakur was famously bailed out by the CEO of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, in exchange for a three album record deal, pending a conviction appeal.
When 'Pac was released into the welcoming arms of the often-controversial record exec., he was angry and more hungry than ever, and couldn't wait to hit the studio. The result was All Eyez on Me, a bona fide hip-hop classic that is considered to be the game's first true double LP released to the masses, and a project that is largely responsible for the shift toward widespread mainstream popularity that the genre was experiencing at the time. It also marked a slight shift of 'Pac's music from his heavy, socially consciousness records, like those found on his 1991 debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, to a more radio-friendly sound, with lyrics that explored subjects that fell more in line with the gangsta rap sub-genre, for which the West Coast was best known at the time.
With production that was handled primarily by 'Pac's longtime collaborator Johnny J, along with strong contributions from Daz Dillinger and Dr. Dre, the two-disc collection birthed some of the legend's most popular singles. Led by the Dre-assisted "California Love," which was Grammy nominated and certified double platinum, All Eyez On Me also saw the release of "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted," which featured Snoop Dogg and served as a commentary of sorts for what had been going on in the personal lives of both Death Row rappers. The singles that followed included "How Do You Want It," which featured K-Ci & JoJo, earned a Grammy nomination in 1997 and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "I Ain't Mad at Cha," an introspective look at some of 'Pac's personal relationships that is said to have been recorded on the very day that he was released from prison.
As far as guest appearances go, All Eyez On Me featured collabs from fellow Death Row MCs like Tha Dogg Pound, Nate Dogg and aforementioned artists like Snoop and Dre. Shakur's creative regulars like the Outlawz also played a role on the album, and it was rounded out with contributions from revered acts like Method Man, Redman and George Clinton.
Tupac's fourth studio effort proved to be one of his most fruitful prior to his untimely passing in September of 1996. To this day, All Eyez on Me tops many lists of the greatest rap albums in music history. The LP reached the very top of the Billboard 200 chart and immediately went gold, moving 566,000 copies in its first week of sales. In the summer of 2014, almost 20 years after 'Pac's death, All Eyez on Me became a certified diamond album by the RIAA, selling more than 10,000,000 units. That marks the second time that Tupac has surpassed Diamond status -- his 1998 Greatest Hits album also reached that coveted threshold.
Through the years, All Eyez On Me has proven to be a timeless classic and one of the most influential albums the rap game has ever seen. The album solidified 'Pac's status as the top rapper in the game at the time, and to this day, many rap enthusiasts feel that Shakur is more than worthy of holding the crown as the best MC of all time.
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