This Week in Hip-Hop R&B History: 2Pac Releases Second Studio Album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z

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— On this day back in 1993, Tupac Shakur released his sophomore studio album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z, thus further propelling his already skyrocketing Hip-Hop career.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z was recorded between June 1992 and January 1993 and was the follow up to 2Pac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, released 2 years prior. Following the general theme of his debut, 2Pac focuses much of his lyrics on his political and social views including racism, poverty, rape and police brutality. However, unlike his debut album, which included a more underground/indie sound, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z took an obvious turn in regards to its production. With more explosive beats that seemingly take a page from The Bomb Squad’s book, 2Pac was able to captivate a larger audience causing Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z to be commonly regarded as 2Pac’s breakout album.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z (N.I.G.G.A.Z standing for “Never Ign’ant Getting Goals Accomplished) included two of 2Pac’s biggest hits, “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around”. Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z is known to exhibit the signature duality of Pac’s persona and these 2 songs did just that. With one song serving as an ode to Black women in the trenches who must navigate and ultimately thrive within a male-driven society, “Keep Ya Head Up” has become something of a women’s empowerment anthem. However, 2Pac then flips the script with “I Get Around” as he shamelessly boasts about his sexual conquests. While the two topics don’t necessarily cancel each other out in totality, the two messages can appear to dance on blurred lines, which is part of what made 2Pac so appealing. Black men across America can relate to 2Pac’s “double life” as many of us attempt to better our own lives and communities while also being tempted (sometimes even forced) to indulge in the activities that hold us back—a conundrum that many of us hope to solve as well.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z includes features from a number of 2Pac’s west coast affiliates such as Ice Cube, Ice-T, and Shock G. However, 2Pac also recruited help from the Midwest and East Coast including Treach of Naughty by Nature, Wycked (later known as Mopreme), Apache, Live Squad, and David Hollister. Production was handled by a largely assorted cast which included Stretch, The Underground Railroad, Big D The Impossible, Bobcat, Jam Master Jay, Live Squad, Special Ed, Truman Jefferson, DJ Daryl, Lay Law, and The D-Flow Production Squad.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z has gone on to sell over 1.5 million records in the United States alone, and, like most of 2Pac’s projects, is regarded as one of Hip-Hop’s best albums in history.

Be sure to check out the full album as well as music videos above.

R.I.P Tupac Shakur

Written by Simo Haier