16 Feb 25 Years of ‘All Eyez on Me’
February 13, 1996, was a special day for popular music. In addition to the Fugees dropping their iconic second album, 2Pac dropped his equally iconic fourth album, All Eyez on Me.
Before we talk about the music, we must discuss the circumstances under which the album came to us. All Eyez on Me was Pac’s first project under Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, following a three-album deal signed while the rapper was locked up. Pac was too broke to make bail after years of fighting legal cases, so the advance for that contract was the $1.4 million used to get him out of jail. It is fair to say that these are not ideal circumstances to enter into an agreement, but Pac was out of options and perhaps desperate. It is also fair to assume that Pac intended to fulfill his contractual agreements quickly, evidenced by the fact that All Eyez was made a double album, which counts as two albums under the three-album deal.
Originally named Euthanasia, the album was renamed during the recording process due to the increased media attention on 2Pac. At that point in Pac’s career, he had been in multiple hit movies (including one with Janet Jackson), had multiple legal cases (including a sexual assault conviction), and had made a few powerful enemies in the industry (most notably the Notorious B.I.G.). Not to mention, he had also had been in a relationship with Madonna.
Twenty-seven tracks is a lot of opportunity to explore a few themes, and All Eyez does just that. 2Pac raps about street life, women, legal troubles, and of course, his enemies. Production-wise, the album relied heavily on samples, with songs borrowing from Cameo, the O’Jays, Hank Crawford, Bootsy Collins and DeBarge, among others.
All Eyez would go on to sell almost six million copies in the US alone, and because its a double album, has been certified diamond. The album’s only singles, “California Love” (featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman) and “How Do U Want It” (featuring K-Ci & Jojo), topped the Billboard Hot 100 as a double A-side.
Though it was never up for debate, listening to All Eyez in 2021 will surely remind you why 2Pac is one of the greats. Unfortunately, it would be the last album Pac releases before his untimely passing on September 13, 1996.
With a whopping 27 tracks, All Eyez has no glaring duds, but after much thought, my pick for favorite track is “How Do U Want It.” Join me in celebrating this classic album!