1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die-Can I do it?

21 Nov

In 2006, the book “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” was released, chronicling, well, exactly what the title says. In the back of my head, I keep hearing this voice challenging me to listen to all of these albums. Now, I’m going to give it a serious go and will write a brief review of each record as I move along through the list. First up tonight was Tupac Shakur’s Me Against the World. Out of all 1001 albums, ranging from Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Natty Dread to Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model, this is probably an odd starting point. I had a few of reasons for doing so: 1. I was in the mood to listen to some hip-hop, 2. I own Me Against the World on vinyl, and 3. I love Tupac, and to this day, he’s my favorite rapper, so I threw it on the turntable.

Recorded in the weeks before Tupac entered prison on sexual assault charges, Me Against the World is generally considered his most personal, introspective album. The record debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts, while Tupac was sitting in prison, making him the first artist to have a number one album while incarcerated.

Overall, the record is haunting; its nihilistic, fatalistic laid-back feel, combined with Tupac’s gangsta lyrics that always leaned toward ambivalence, and the fact that he was gunned down a little over a year after this album’s release, a victim of the lifestyle he was embraced so fully, yet was so hesitant of–what Tupac termed “thug life”–make for a poignant listening experience.

Many of the songs deal with paranoia and death, with “If I Die 2Nite,” “Me Against the World,” “So Many Tears,” “Lord Knows,” and “Death Around the Corner” being just some of those. Me Against the World also contains Tupac’s iconic “Dear Mama,” a song in which he certainly isn’t compassionate toward and is honest about his mother’s drug use, but still, it’s a love song to his mother–one that ends up being sympathetic and caring, even as it’s bitingly critical.

Me Against the World is, by far, Tupac’s most cohesive album, and it still stands as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever.

Rating: 4.5/5

3 Responses to “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die-Can I do it?”

  1. bono212 21/11/2009 at 02:33 #

    So while you’re on your 1001 albums quest, I’ll continue my 1001 movies quest, and we’ll see where we go with that. I have a bit of a head start, but that’s only fair since movies are longer than albums 😉

  2. Cassie 21/11/2009 at 20:02 #

    Haha, nice. How far along are you in the movies list?

  3. bono212 23/11/2009 at 04:06 #

    I’ve seen 169 of them >_>

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