On February 14, 1995, Tupac Shakur (age 23) began serving his nine-month prison sentence in New York for first-degree sexual abuse. One month later, Tupac became the first artist to have a number one album while in prison after the release of ME AGAINST THE WORLD.
The project opens up with media voices reading off headlines about the turmoil in his life. When they finally teeter off, Tupac jumps in with tightly packed verses about getting money, getting locked up, and getting revenge. The album builds from there as a melancholic and emotionally charged contemplation of life and death. He muses about suicide, murder, and his numbness to the violence happening around him.
ME AGAINST THE WORLD also centers around the triangulation of Tupac’s situation with “the you know who”—he watches himself watch the cops while they watch him. The psychological trauma of the prison industrial complex weighs on him and is at the root of his day-to-day paranoia. But, like his other work, his stories are never just about himself. This album politicizes the black American experience in ways that are still relevant 25 years later.