On this day, November 12, in hip-hop history…
1991: After starting his career as a backup dancer for the Oakland-based rap group Digital Underground, Tupac Shakur would be given a chance to release an album of his own when 2Pacalypse Now debuted in November 1991. The album would be the opening salvo in the too brief career of one of the most celebrated rap artists in hip-hop history.
Although significantly less polished than the albums that would follow in subsequent years, 2pacalypse Now finds the young rapper at his most overtly political in his incredibly diverse career. As the son of a Black Panther, ‘Pac tackles a wide variety of social and political topics on the LP and attacks the issues with a potent combination of righteous rage and thoughtful nuance. On the classic “Brenda’s Gotta Baby,” Tupac addresses the issue of teen pregnancy. Meanwhile, songs such as “Trapped” and “Young Black Make,” finds Shakur delving into the topics of institutionalized racism and police brutality. The album would achieve significant controversy when Vice President Dan Quayle would publicly criticize the rapper after Texas youth would shoot a state trooper and his defense attorney claimed he was strongly influenced by the themes on 2Pacalypse Now.
Despite the controversy, the album would go on to become commercially successful and would be certified Gold by the RIAA in route to selling over 920,000 copies in the many years since the album’s release. More than mere sales success though, 2Pacalypse Now is an important relic in hip-hop history as the first complete, artistic release of one of hip-hop’s most iconic figures.