Tupac Shakur remains hip-hop’s most iconic and mythologized figure. The rapper/actor/writer would’ve turned 42 today (June 16th) and his presence still lingers over the whole of hip-hop music and culture. Numerous tributes, references, documentaries and books have detailed his art, career, life and tragic murder at the age of 25 in 1996.
Classic albums like Me Against the World and All Eyez On Me are among the most acclaimed and important releases in the history of the genre and of the 90s overall. And, of course, there has been a seemingly-endless parade of posthumous albums featuring remixed versions of tracks he never released during his four-and-a-half year career.
Likewise, certain songs have become signature tunes for 2Pac fans and casual listeners. “Dear Mama” and “California Love” were radio hits, and the B-side, “Hit ‘Em Up” is Pac’s most scathing and aggressive song–widely considered one of the most inflammatory diss records ever recorded. But there are other great songs by Shakur that didn’t make it onto tribute discs or “Greatest Hits” compilations.
In celebration of Tupac Amaru Shakur’s 42nd birthday, here some of the legendary rapper’s most underrated songs: