2Pac Shakur's fourth album All Eyez On Me turns twenty-five today, a classic chapter of the hip-hop canon and legendary Death Row catalog. Though it's no easy feat to single out one particular standout, it goes without saying that the combination of Pac and the eternally unsung DJ Quik is as deadly as any. On Book 1's eighth track, the legendary producer brought his signature groove to "Heartz Of Men," laying down a smooth bassline and crisp drumline for Pac to ride.
Few could slide over a beat like Shakur, who managed to embody both old-school hip-hop purism and cutting edge gangsta rap violence in the breadth of one stance. Starting the track with a reiterated desire to lay waste on the rap game, Pac snatches the binoculars from Quik and opens fire. "9-1-1, it's an emergency, cowards tried to murder me," he begins. "From hood to the 'burbs, every one of you niggas heard of me." In retrospect, the opening bars carry a bleak and bittersweet truth, a reminder of the ubiquity that so often comes with death.
Haunting though it may sometimes be to revisit Pac's music, today of all days is the perfect time to celebrate a genuine hip-hop classic. Rest in peace 2Pac -- happy anniversary to All Eyez On Me.
9-1-1, it's an emergency, cowards tried to murder me
From hood to the 'burbs, every one of you n***as heard of me
Shit, I'm legendary, n***s scared and paralyzed
Nothin' more I despise than a liar, cowards die
My mama told me when I was a seed
Just a vicious motherfucker, why these devils left me free?
I proceed to make 'em shiver when I deliver
Criminal lyrics from a worldwide mob figure