The GOAT in the rap game

With over 713 songs, 75 million records sold worldwide, and 11 platinum albums, there’s no doubt Tupac Shakur is the GOAT in the rap game.

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Public Domain: Tupac Shakur/Interscope Records/Death Row Records/Amaru Records

Tyler Lehner, Editor-in-chief

The acronym “GOAT”, which stands for “Greatest Of All Time” gets thrown around frequently in every aspect of entertainment. Whether people are talking about athletes, poets, pop stars, or even actors, there’s always going to be the debate of who’s the greatest.

One of the more popular GOAT debates involves rappers. Some people would say Biggie Smalls is the greatest, others might say Eminem, or even Ice Cube and Dr. Dre get thrown around in the discussion as well, but only the wise know who the true greatest is. Think about it right now, who is the greatest rapper of all time? If you thought of anyone but Tupac Shakur, you’re wrong. Let me tell you why.

Tupac is the greatest rapper of all time for a number of reasons.

One of the main factors of his greatness was his ability to tell stories. Tupac was able to rap about meaningful situations and circumstances and make fans feel like they were witnessing the entire thing, just like him. A great example of this is found in his song “Dear Mama.”

“I could see you coming home after work late
You’re in the kitchen trying to fix us a hot plate
Ya just working with the scraps you was given
And mama made miracles every Thanksgiving”

Tupac lyrically takes listeners into his own childhood where he watched his own struggling single mother work her tail off in order to put food on the table.

Perhaps an even better example of 2Pac’s impressive storytelling ability is found within his song “Brenda’s Got a Baby.” In the song, based on true events, fans learn that a 12 year old was impregnated by her cousin, and she tried to get rid of her child by throwing it in a dumpster.

“No money no babysitter, she couldn’t keep a job
She tried to sell crack, but ended up getting robbed
So now what’s next, there ain’t nothing left to sell

Tupac elaborates about the struggle the 12 year old faced after everything that happened. He touches on the fact she turned to drug dealing to make money, and when that failed, she turned to prostitution.

Tupac’s storytelling not only allows fans to understand some of the struggles he witnessed in the world, but his storytelling also brings awareness to these horrific circumstances and incites change.

Another reason 2Pac is the greatest rapper of all time is his ability to appeal to both the male and female perspective.

2Pac wrote a lot of music for struggling single moms raising children on their own. The following is a lyric from 2pac’s song “Keep Ya Head Up”:

“I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can’t make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one”

Tupac is showing compassion to the brave, strong, and courageous women who are raising their children alone. Shakur also encourages males to start treating women with more respect.

Since Shakur was and still is a respected and influential individual, there’s no doubt in my mind his words were actually listened to by men, and because of his influence women were treated better.

In addition to 2pac’s impressive ability to be a storyteller and his influential lyrics, he was also a  versatile rapper.

Tupac was versatile in the sense that he could go from releasing a song about those struggling in poverty, to dropping a banger utterly attacking his enemies in lyrical form.

The songs “Hit Em Up” and “Can’t C Me” written by 2Pac are  great examples of this. “Hit Em Up” is a diss track directed towards East Coast rappers, mainly Biggie Smalls. “Cant C Me” is a song directed towards anyone and everyone seeking violence to 2Pac. “Cant C Me” was 2Pac’s way of letting his enemies know they won’t get to him.

Why is versatility a good thing? Well, nobody wants to listen to a artist that raps about the same stuff and makes the same sounding music over and over again. Shakur could go from writing heartfelt music, to writing songs verbally attacking his foes, and he would even write emotional charged songs about his relationships with women. Essentially, 2Pac could rap about anything, and he did.

The biggest reason 2Pac is the greatest rapper of all time is because he was  socially conscious. He knew what was going on in the world around him and he tried to make a difference through the music he wrote.

Honest and inspiring  lyrics such as “ They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor” from “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I see no changes all I see is racist faces” and “Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races” from “Changes” are two examples of some of the passion he put into his music based off of what he wished to see change to make the world a better place.

In addition to being a rapper, Tupac Shakur was also a successful actor, poet, model, and screenwriter. Shakur even starred in seven films from 1991-1996.  

Tupac Shakur spit reality into the mic and poured his heart, soul, and mind into his music. He recorded over 713 songs, sold over 75 million records worldwide, and has 11 platinum albums.

Tupac is the GOAT.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the GENESIS staff. Reach Tyler Lehner at [email protected]