Tupac was known for many things. He was a rapper, actor, intellectual, sex symbol, philanthropist, thug, poet, ex-felon, hood politician, and of course… a major mouthpiece who never ever bit his tongue.
Many have tried and many have failed to capture the pure raw angst that Pac would pour out whenever he launched into one of his infamous tirades. Oftentimes his rants were as provocative as his raps—full of passion and fury, unexpected humor and uncomfortable emotional nakedness. And of course there were times when they could be downright foul and ugly. Did Pac care how crazy he sounded? Probably not, which made it that much more entertaining for us listeners.
So in celebration of the days when rappers weren’t so politically correct, we went digging through the archives to select our all-time favorite 2Pac Rants. If you’re a rapper (or R&B thug) reading this right now, have a seat and take notes on how it’s really done…
Written by Linda Hobbs (@linnyloveslin)
#10. Out On Bail, Fresh Out of Jail
Date: Spring 1995
Best line: “Do you see me running into Bad Boy with a gun? Do it look like I’m doing drive-bys on these niggas?”
Complex says: In the spring of 1995, Hot 97’s Angie Martinez scored a post-prison interview with Pac, right after his release from Clinton’s Correctional Facility. The conversation between the two started off smoothly, as Pac discussed ideas on how rappers could take more responsibility and better serve their neighborhoods. “Lets get some paper, get some buildings, get some community centers,” he said. “You can't do that without money.”
Immediately following this statement, Angie attempted to move the conversation back to the issue of the boiling East Coast/West Coast war—and how that might affect rappers from both coasts feeling comfortable working together. Let the rant begin.
Introducing Death Row East
#9. Introducing Death Row East
Date: September 1996
Best line: “We gon' prove once and for all, that all these people out here talking about a East Coast/West Coast war? They’re like what Judas was to Jesus—they’re only here to cause confusion.”
Complex says: When Tupac was on a roll, he could convince almost any journalist of almost anything. Case in point: this interview clip of Pac schooling a reporter outside Radio City Music Hall (just 11 days before his death) about the purpose of Death Row East.
BET With Ed Gordon
#8. BET With Ed Gordon
Best line: “This girl—and I can’t say her name—but if I were to say her name 1000 niggas all over the world would go, [Puts hand over mouth.]”
Complex says: One of the touchiest topics Tupac ever spoke on was the sexual abuse and sodomy charges he incurred after a woman accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex on him at the Parker Meridien Hotel in 1993.
One year after the incident, Tupac did a sit-down interview with BET’s Ed Gordon to share his thoughts on how the sexual assault charges affected his public image.
As human beings, we can understand how such a serious subject could cause an emotioanl reaction, but if Pac had any intentions of remaining calm during this interview, he failed miserably. We feel his passion though.
#7. Meet Makaveli
Date: October 1995
Best line: “I didn’t get that power from guns because there’s no guns in jail. I got that power from books, and thinking, and by strategizing—that’s what I want little niggas to see.”
Complex says: In a little-known interview following his October 1995 release from prison, Tupac spoke on his future as an artist. Though the interviewer didn’t do much chiming in (besides the random “uh-huh”) Tupac needed zero prompting to start ranting about how he went from being a hospital patient to Makaveli.
Lost VIBE Interview
#6. The Lost VIBE Interview
Date: May 1996
Best line: “I did more for the East Coast than the East Coast did! I put more guns in East Cost niggas hands than East Coast niggas did... I’m the one that gave Biggie his first shows.”
Complex says: For the 14-year anniversary of Tupac’s death, VIBE unearthed a May 1996 video interview (how exactly did they lose it anyway?). On the tape Pac rants about those who felt he turned his back on the East Coast once he began repping the West. Like a busted thermostat, Pac wasted no time jumping from warm to extra-hot.
Date: March 4, 1994
Best line: “What you think we gon' do? Ask?”
Complex says: Younger fans will recognize this clip as one of the many highlights in the Tupac: Resurrection documentary. With a simple metaphor, Pac explains the plight of the poor. Now that income inequality is at even more obnoxious levels—and the Occupy Wallstreet movement is getting stonger by the day—Shakur's words make even more sense than ever. Watching Pac's rant makes us want to ask the 1% one question: Are you scared yet?
Five Shots Later
#4. Five Shots Later
Date: Early 1996
Best line: “I hate when them New York niggas be throwing up gang signs. I see Biggie throwing up this. Biggie don’t know nothing about no gang signs!”
Complex says: When he wasn’t throwing hot-tub parties or getting sued over his nasty records, Luther "Luke" Campbell found time to host a mid-90s pay-per-view variety show called Luke’s Peep Show.
In this memorable episode, Luke chops it up with All Eyez on Me-era Pac, who takes the opportunity to address the robbers involved in his 1994 ambush at New York City’s Quad Recording Studios. He also has a few choice words for East Coasters who throw up gang signs. The result was a classic rant.
But watching it today you can’t help but feel sad. Pac swore he would wear his bullet proof vest from there on out, but on the fateful night of September 7, 1996, he didn’t.
Flipping Out On Yo MTV Raps
#3. Flipping Out On Yo! MTV Raps
Best line: “I was a menace to the Hughes Brothers!”
Complex says: While promoting his film Poetic Justice, ‘Pac appeared on MTV’s Yo! MTV Raps alongside director John Singleton. When host Ed Lover brought up Pac’s run-in with the Hughes Brothers (who directed Menace II Society, a film they originally cast Pac in before going with someone else) Pac flipped out.
Raving about how he beat up the directors, Shakur went on to say he would do it again if he ever saw them in the streets. Ed Lover tried to save Pac from snitching on himself but it was too late—the prosecution later used footage of the rant in the Pac’s assault case pertaining to the Hughes Brothers incident.
So what was the cost of this rant? Well, after being sentenced by the judge to 15 days in prison, Pac reasoned: “A two and a half minute problem cost me 15 days of my life.” You do the math.
2Pac vs Mobb Deep
#2. 2Pac vs Mobb Deep
Date: April 19, 1996
Best line: “Mobb Deep, you know like I know, I’ll swallow them!”
Complex says: If you wanted to hear Pac at the top of his rant game, all you had to do was bring up the topic of his “enemies.” Peep what happened when Shakur called up KMEL Radio to talk with Sway Calloway about every bit of drama that was consuming his life at that time.
This exclusive (and very rare) interview came five months before his tragic death, two months after the release of All Eyez on Me, and right in the thick of the East Coast/West Coast war. Though the entire interview was filled with angst, nothing compares to Pac’s rant when the subject of Mobb Deep came up…
#1. "Hit ’Em Up"
Date: June 4, 1996
Best line: “Fuck Bad Boy as a staff, record label, and as a muthafucking crew.”
Complex says: "Hit 'Em Up" is one of the most vicious diss records ever recorded, but much like most of 50 Cent's diss records, only half its punch came from the actual rapping. Pac claiming that he slept with Biggie's wife and that he used to let Big sleep on the couch were some epic revelations for sure. But Pac's rant at the end of the song is as legendary as the song itself.
Going off about Biggie, Bad Boy, Mobb Deep, and Chino XL with a vengance, Pac got so amped he sounded like he was ready to break the microphone. By the time he starts making fun of Prodigy for having sickle cell anemia and dubs his crew "Bad Boy Killas," it's clear that Makaveli has taken the art of the rant to a whole new level.