As a part of their October nostalgia issue, PAPER Mag had three artists pen essays on of their idols.
Kendrick the journalist returned with one about Eazy-E, Swizz Beatz is penning one on The Notorious B.I.G., and now Eminem is focusing on one of his biggest influences, Tupac. This sort of concept is always fresh, because we often don’t hear or read artists go this in-depth about their idols.
Eminem had a lot to say about Tupac, and it makes sense considering both are artists who evoke many emotions through music and interviews. The way Pac spoke, you just had to listen and understand. It might sound cliche to say, but Tupac was ahead of his time. Em realized this as well: “He was taking things further than a lot of rappers at the time -- pushing it to the next level as far as giving feeling to his words and his music.”
A teenage Eminem first discovered Tupac through his memorable verses on “I Get Around.” Those were days where if something impressed you enough to want to hear more, you had to cop the album. That’s what Em did with 2Pacalypse Now, becoming a true fan that followed all of his musical moves. He cites Me Against The World as Tupac’s pinnacle point. He even goes as far to bet the house on that album: “I would probably put that up against anything as far as a classic hip-hop album goes.”
“His spirit spoke to me because it was like you knew everything that he was going through, especially when he made Me Against the World. You just felt every aspect of his pain, every emotion: when he was happy, when he was sad. His ability to touch people's lives like that was incredible.”
In December of 2004, Eminem produced an album for Tupac titled Loyal To The Game. It happened after he decided to write Afeni Shakur a letter asking her to do this and she agreed. That was just another example of how strong Pac’s influence was on Eminem.
More than a decade after becoming a fan and eight years since his passing, Em cemented a spot in Tupac’s legacy. “I'm like a kid in a candy store; going nuts with the fact that I'm putting beats under his rhymes,” he remembers. “Regardless of how good a rapper someone is, it's easy for things to eventually get dated. But when you make songs like Tupac did, songs that feel like something, that feeling never goes away.” This is one of the truest things about Pac’s music.
Whether you play “Brenda’s Got A Baby” or “2 Of Americaz Most Wanted,” Tupac’s records have no shelf life. It’s not full of outdated pop culture references that make no sense to the new generation. His formula has held rhymes that stand the test of time. If anything, Tupac’s music means more for our society and culture in 2015 than it did back when it was recorded and originally releassed. Pac was progressive thinking, so it seems likely he realized that he could live on forever with the right music. This is why artists like Eminem praise him so much.
Tupac touched countless lives, and continues to do so today. Read Eminem's full letter via PaperMag.
[By Sermon, his favorite Tupac song is "Changes." This is his Twitter.]