Saul Williams




Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Borrowing your beats or lyrics from a legend is nothing new in the rap game. And there's a few key phrases in particular that hold so much weight in the hip-hop world, they've come to be known as a rapper's calling card. One of these songs is 2Pac's "All Eyez On Me." It's one of the seminal singles from 'Pac's fourth studio album of the same name released by Makaveli in 1996. Being such an iconic figure, rappers have since paid homage to 'Pac by referencing the track and album in their own records.

First released 19 years ago, 'Pac's "All Eyez On Me" has been referenced by many other preceding greats on wax. From Clipse and The Neptunes to Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill, these MCs never waste an opportunity to pay homage to a great.

Whether it borrows Shakur's laid back flow or samples Johnny J's G-funk inspired beat, here are 10 times that the hip-hop world has been inspired by the classic track's name or beat.

Back in January, a Broadway play inspired by the music of Tupac Shakur was given a May 26th previewing date at New York City’s Palace Theatre. The play, titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, is a tale of two childhood friends and the struggles they face living in Urban America. Holler If Ya Hear Me was written by Todd Kreidler and produced in part by Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur.

With the previewing date inching closer and closer, the cast of the play has been announced and Saul Williams, a spoken word poet veteran who starred in the 1998 film Slam will star in the play. Williams is an accomplished author and musician and has worked with Nas and appeared on the 1998 compilation album, Lyricist Lounge, Volume One. It is unclear what role Williams will play.

Other performers for the play include Tonya Pinkins, Christopher Jackson, Saycon Sengbloh, Ben Thompson, John Earl Jelks, Joshua Boone and Dyllon Burnside. Holler If Ya Hear Me will open June 19 at the Palace Theatre.—Peter Walsh