How Tupac Shakur’s ‘Changes’ Resurfaced On iTunes Chart Over 20 Years After Its Release
Tupac Shakur is lauded as one of the most prolific and socially conscious lyricists of all time. The overwhelming majority of his lyrics spread awareness of the injustices and oppression of Blacks throughout America. One of his songs that speaks to such is his 1998 posthumous release, “Changes.”
The song uses war as a metaphor when speaking of issues that directly impact people of color, including drugs, poverty, racism, and police brutality. Over 20 years since its initial release, the song has resurfaced as an anthem as anti-police-brutality protests take place throughout the world in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
Tupac Shakur’s ‘Changes’ released in 1998
“Changes” was originally recorded in 1992 when Shakur was signed to Interscope Records. The rapper re-used many lines from other unreleased songs of his on the recording of “Changes” with plans to create an updated version of the song at a later date. Some of the lines he re-used were from his song “I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto,” which he recorded the same year prior to recording “Changes.”
The chorus of the song samples the 1986 single “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range, which was re-sung on the final cut of the song by singer, Talent. Hornsby spoke of his admiration for Shakur in a 2011 interview with LA Weekly, saying:
I’m a fan [now]. When the Greatest Hits record came out, they sent me it. I had never really dealt with him on a listening level. I was sort of floored by his creativity. I thought he was so clever, and really profound, and deep. There’s a lot of gravitas to Tupac’s music, to me.Bruce Hornsby, LA Weekly
“Changes” was released in October 1998 as part of Shakur’s Greatest Hits album. The song was a hit both nationally and internationally, topping the charts in Norway and the Netherlands. In the U.S., “Changes” spent 19 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 32.
The music video for “Changes” was a montage of photos and videos of Shakur’s life and career. It was nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 2000 Grammy Awards and remains the only posthumous song to be nominated in the category. It also garnered a nomination at the MTV Video Music Award for Best Editing in a Video & Best Rap Video a year earlier in 1999.
The uproar over police brutality and racism helps push Tupac Shakur’s ‘Changes’ resurface on the iTunes chart in 2020
“Changes” remains a relevant song today, especially in the midst of protests taking place throughout the world. Famed hip hop journalist, The Art of Dialogue, refers to ‘Changes’ as “The greatest social injustice song of all time.” He also notes that Shakur “really [is] in a league on his own.”
The song has made its way to the iTunes chart. As of June 4, the song sits at the No. 25 spot. Within the past week, it previously sat at the No. 43 and 63 spots on the iTunes Top 100.
“Changes” has become one of the go-to songs during the current movement, an anthem of sorts. The lyrics are fitting for the times as Shakur raps:
“Cops give a damn about a negro / Pull the trigger, kill a n***a, he’s a hero,” which spoke to the police brutality from over two decades ago that’s still present.
But he also raps of how true change can actually occur with all people uniting together, saying:
“I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere / Unless we share with each other / We gotta start makin’ changes /Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers.”
“Changes” proves the visionary Shakur was and how timeless, whether for good or bad, his music is.