3 Eternal Songs by Tupac Shakur that Have Stood the Test of Time

Though he’s been dead since 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur may still be one of the most important, significant and influential people in the hip-hop genre. His force of will, biting lyrics, and scathing commentary remain, in many ways, the gold standard for other artists. He has myriad acolytes, from Eminem to 50 Cent, and he worked with some of the biggest names in rap, from Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg.

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Along the way during his brief, though blistering-hot career, Tupac released a plethora of songs, many of which have since stood the test of time. Here below, however, we wanted to dive into three specific songs that continue to be both fan favorites and influential. Indeed, these are three eternal songs from rapper Tupac Shakur.

[RELATED: Behind the Death of Tupac, 27 Years Later]

“California Love” from the UK version of All Eyez on Me (1996)

The desolate Mad Max franchise is in the news of late with the most recent installment of the film series, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, out this summer. And it was from this series’ iconography that the music video for Tupac’s hit song “California Love” came about, too. Produced by Dr. Dre, the track itself remains an iconic party song. It is also his most successful song, dropped after he was released from jail, and hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. After his death, the song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The track highlights Tupac’s hyped feeling to be free in his adopted home state of California. On it, he raps in between Roger Troutman’s funky talk-box vocals,

Out on bail, fresh out of jail, California dreaming
Soon as I step on the scene, I’m hearing hoochies screaming
Fiending for money and alcohol
The life of a Westside player where cowards die and the strong ball
Only in Cali where we riot not rally to live and die
In L.A. we wearing Chucks not Ballys (yeah, that’s right)
Dressed in Locs and Khaki suits, and ride is what we do
Flossing, but have caution: we collide with other crews
Famous because we throw grams
Worldwide, let them recognize from Long Beach to Rosecrans
Bumping and grinding like a slow jam, it’s Westside
So you know the row won’t bow down to no man
Say what you say, but give me that bomb beat from Dre
Let me serenade the streets of L.A
From Oakland to Sac-town, the Bay Area and back down
Cali is where they put their mack down
Give me love!

“Dear Mama” from Me Against the World (1995)

It’s not often that sharp-tongued rappers take a moment to pause and reflect in vulnerable ways about their mothers. But that’s exactly what Tupac did on this 1995 track. It’s also not always the case that someone has a mother like his. Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur, was an activist and outspoken member of the Black Panther party. On the song her son dedicated to her, Tupac talks about their at times tumultuous relationship, but is resolute in the idea that she was important and influential in his rocky, successful life. He raps,

You are appreciated

When I was young, me and my mama had beef
17 years old, kicked out on the streets
Though back at the time I never thought I’d see her face
Ain’t a woman alive that could take my mama’s place
Suspended from school, and scared to go home, I was a fool
With the big boys breakin’ all the rules

I shed tears with my baby sister, over the years
We was poorer than the other little kids
And even though we had different daddies, the same drama
When things went wrong we’d blame Mama
I reminisce on the stress I caused, it was hell
Huggin’ on my mama from a jail cell

“Changes” from Greatest Hits (1998)

This song, which samples Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is,” is about American culture and the country’s social dynamics, which despite progress, often continue to put undo pressure on Black Americans. The Grammy-nominated track highlights police brutality, among other issues in the Black community. On the track, Tupac raps eloquently and forcefully,

I see no changes, all I see is racist faces
Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under, I wonder what it takes to make this
One better place, let’s erase the wasted

Take the evil out the people, they’ll be acting right
‘Cause mo’ black and white is smokin’ c—k tonight
And only time we chill is when we kill each other
It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other

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Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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