Personal Context

AEOM marked the complete transformation from the more socially conscious Pac to Pac the warmonger. He came out of prison embracing this whole military persona, which came as something of a surprise. There wasn’t any indication that he would be on some complete war shit.

He was coming off of the more introspective album, Me Against The World, and while he was behind bars he gave an interview that suggested he was leaving the T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. mentality behind. But Pac was angered when he read his peers’ responses to those comments.

 

Based on our conversation, a key difference between AEOM and TDK was that Pac was starting to reveal his own personal agenda, as distinct from Death Row’s agenda. He recorded the album quickly and privately. AEOM was all about representing Death Row and the West, but TDK was a much more personal statement. Changing his name to Makaveli was part of Pac’s move towards independence. The reality was, he was ready to get off of Death Row.

 

Once Death Row CEO Suge Knight and his attorney David Kenner showed up at Dannemora prison with a hand-written contract and promises that they would take care of Pac’s financial and legal issues with one stroke of a pen, there was no turning back.

Some of Pac’s new rage was simply commercial competition. Suge put the battery in 2Pac’s back and had the means to stoke the flames of Pac’s natural animosity toward the New York contingent. Plus Suge had his own issues with Puffy and the Bad Boy camp.

Pac was like Suge’s enforcer on AEOM, the Capo of the Death Row empire. By the time he came out with “Hit Em Up”—released as the B-side to the smash AEOM single “How Do U Want It”—what had been a simmering aesthetic rivalry between the coasts starting to feel like an actual war.

By the time he recorded TDK, Pac had begun to see that his true agenda was larger than a coastal conflict. I spoke with him two weeks before his death, when he was already finished with TDK, but it hadn’t been released yet.

Based on our conversation, a key difference between AEOM and TDK was that Pac was starting to reveal his own personal agenda, as distinct from Death Row’s agenda. He recorded the album quickly and privately. AEOM was all about representing Death Row and the West, but TDK was a much more personal statement.

Changing his name to Makaveli was part of Pac’s move towards independence. The reality was, he was ready to get off of Death Row. As soon as he completed his contract he was about to form a new one-nation revolutionary army. Pac was linking up with various East Coast artists because he didn’t just want to be just a West Coast artist. He was starting to make strategic moves to become the king of the whole hip-hop nation.

Advantage: TDK

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