Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t still have hits.  And Tupac (or as Prince called him: 2Pac) added to his legacy with the release of Changes in 1999.  The song, set to the hook of “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby (go listen to that song and you will see it was not by chance), is a fairly bleak picture of the deceased rapper’s outlook on life in America.  or at least, the one that would sell the most records.  And that’s the place where things always break down for me.  And this song is as good an example as any.

Music snobs (at least the ones I am familiar with) seem to think the only things of any value have to meet a very select set of criteria.  Things are either genius, a novelty or guilty pleasure, or shit.  I have never met a music snob who had anything good to say about rap in any form.  “That’s because it’s not music” they usually say.  But please explain to me how the method of delivering lyrics affects the quality of them.  Bob Dylan sings like someone inserted their hand in his ass and reached up high enough to brush his teeth, but he’s a genius.  Compare these lyrics.


I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don’t remember
Mary acts like she don’t care


Cops give a damn about a negro
pull the trigger kill a nigga he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
one less hungry mouth on the welfare

Which is more arty?  If you have never listened to a rap song, listen to this one.  And read the lyrics.  He was wrong about the President (or at least off by a few years) but he was right about how he’d die.  We know that Eminem won an Oscar and that everyone likes Will Smith, but what do you think of rap?  And more importantly, ask yourself if you don’t think Tupac Shakur would have been an interesting person to sit down with in 2040.  I mean if he was alive.  Now he’d be pretty boring.

Tupac Shakur – Changes

Come on come on
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
is life worth living should I blast myself?
I’m tired of bein’ poor & even worse I’m black
my stomach hurts so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
pull the trigger kill a nigga he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
one less hungry mouth on the welfare
First ship ’em dope & let ’em deal the brothers
give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other
It’s time to fight back that’s what Huey said
2 shots in the dark now Huey’s dead
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin’ changes
learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers
and that’s how it’s supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?
I’d love to go back to when we played as kids
but things changed, and that’s the way it is

[Chorus with changing ad libs]
Come on come on
That’s just the way it is
Things’ll never be the same
That’s just the way it is
aww yeah

[Verse 2]
I see no changes all I see is racist faces
misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
one better place, let’s erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they’ll be acting right
’cause mo’ black and white is smokin’ crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President, uhh
It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact
the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks
But some things will never change
try to show another way but you stayin’ in the dope game
Now tell me what’s a mother to do
bein’ real don’t appeal to the brother in you
You gotta operate the easy way
“I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way
sellin’ crack to the kid. ” I gotta get paid,”
Well hey, well that’s the way it is


[2pac Talking]
We gotta make a change
It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.
Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live
and let’s change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive.

[Verse 3]
And still I see no changes can’t a bother get a little peace
There’s war in the streets and war in the middle east
Instead of war on poverty they got a war on drugs
so the police can bother me
And I ain’t never did a crime I ain’t have to do
But now I’m back with the facts givin’ em back to you
Don’t let ’em jack you up, back you up,
crack you up and pimps Smack you up
You gotta learn to hold ya own
they get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone
But tell the cops they can’t touch this
I don’t trust this when they try to rush I bust this
That’s the sound of my tool you say it ain’t cool
my mama didn’t raise no fool
And as long as I stay black I gotta stay strapped
I never get to lay back
‘Cause I always got to worry ’bout the pay backs
some buck that I roughed up way back
comin’ back after all these years
rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat that’s the way it is uhh

Chorus 2x

Some things will never change…