Favorite Rapper: 2Pac
Growing up on the West Coast in the '90s, it was hard to escape the influence that music had, even on someone who came up listening to R&B. Whether it was Death Row having a chokehold on the game or the Bay Area consistently churning out hits, it seemed like everything was rocking back then. At its peak, the artist who had the most impact on all of us had to be 2Pac. His charisma really drew you in. Best believe when he said "fuck Mobb Deep," that's what people really stood behind.
He might have been one of the only artists at the time who could weave in and out of mainstream chart toppers to gangsta ass underground bangers and still have a message in between. From his ode to Afeni Shakur on "Dear Mama" to representing the entire state on "California Love" or his verbal lashing on "Hit 'Em Up," it seemed like there was no subject he wouldn't touch. Political commentary, a positive dedication to the ladies, one for the homies, questioning his life on earth, 2Pac's lyrics still resonate with the culture today, almost 20 years after his death. Of course, during the later years, his aggressiveness consumed him, but he still showed flashes of his former self during that Death Row Records peak.
Memories of hearing "To Live and Die In LA" as a child every hour on Power 106 while visiting my grandma (and having the tape deck recording) always come to mind. Staying up until 2 a.m. to hear the college station world premiere of "God Bless The Dead" before his Greatest Hits was released and hearing him shout out Biggie Smalls was haunting. Stealing All Eyez On Me from random cats' CD sleeves, because you got jacked for the first disc yourself, will always have a place in our hearts. Who knows where the determination to listen to every Makaveli bootleg after his death came from, but it did.
We'll never forget how much time we spent, back in the caveman days of the Internet, researching the theories of when he would return on Lycos pages and Angelfire websites. Even after the seven-year window that all the theories claimed, we still believed he was alive in Cuba chilling somewhere. To this day, there hasn't been another rapper to come out of the West Coast (or any coast for that matter) who's had that same passion, controversy, range of topics and positive message like Pac.
You know Pac is your favorite when you still listen to him consistently to this day. Not a week goes by that Me Against The World doesn't get burn or one of his songs doesn't get played. If you go to the club in California in 2013, you're still guaranteed to hear his music get played and people turn up to it, as if it was 1996.
That's when you know that it's timeless.