How 2Pac’s ‘Me Against The World’ Album Broke Records

2Pac has been gone for more than 20 years but the musical, acting and social imprint he left on his fans still remains. The son of a former Black Panther, 2Pac’s music embodied consciousness – tackling street life, poverty, and encouragement for the future. His third album, Me Against The World, recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its release. 

2Pac | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

The album has been praised as 2Pac’s best and most poignant album. It also broke major records for 2Pac as an artist and for the hip hop industry overall.

‘Me Against The Wolrd’ featured 2Pac’s first number one single, “Dear Mama”

“Dear Mama” is a tribute to 2Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur. In the song, he details he and his mother’s often complex and complicated relationship. He praises her as a single mother who raised him with integrity and awareness for his community – while he also addresses his childhood poverty and his mother’s drug addiction. With his help, Afeni eventually became sober from drugs and rectified the strained relationship with her son. 

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The song was released as the lead single on the album and remained at the top spot on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart for five weeks – making it 2Pac’s first number-one single since his debut in 1991. “Dear Mama” was certified platinum by the RIAA in July 1995, just five months after its release. 

Many music critics had difficulty categorizing 2Pac as an artist as he was considered to have a dual personality – one of social consciousness and another as one who conformed to gangsta rap trends. But, “Dear Mama” was heavily praised by critics. 

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A Los Angeles Times review read, “The song attests to Shakur’s gift at crystallizing complex emotions in simple stark images.” Rolling Stone called the song “a heartfelt, sometimes harsh dedication of love for his mother that deals with the trials and tribulations each has put the other through.”
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In 2010, “Dear Mama” was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress. In a press release, the organization called the song “a moving and eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper’s own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty, and societal indifference.”

‘Me Against The Wolrd’ became 2Pac’s first number one album 

Me Against the World was 2Pac’s third studio album and his first release through Interscope Records. He began the recording process before he began a prison term. He drew inspiration for the songs from his impending prison sentence, run-ins with the police, and poverty. 2Pac later revealed that the lyrical content was intentional and personal, meant to show his skill as a lyricist and artist. 

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Released in March 1995 while still imprisoned, the album was an instant hit, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and remaining at the top spot for four consecutive weeks. The album surpassed Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits as the best-selling album of the year in 1995. 2Pac became the first artist to ever have an album debut at number one album while serving a prison sentence.

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Me Against the World was nominated for Best Rap Album – and “Dear Mama” was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance. The album was certified triple platinum by the RIAA.

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 the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time list. 

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2Pac died in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas a year after the album was released. Prior to his death, he released another studio album, All Eyez On Me.