— 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

— Twenty-three years ago, Snoop Dogg made his acting debut as he starred in the short film, Murder Was the Case, also creating the soundtrack.

Murder Was The Case

On this day back in 1994, Death Row Records released a bit of a treat for fans of hardcore West Coast Hip-Hop with the short film and soundtrack, Murder Was the Case. Snoop Dogg held the starring role as well as headlined the soundtrack while Dr. Dre and Fab Five Freddy directed the project. The 18-minute film recounted the fictional death of Snoop Dogg (played as himself) and his resurrection following a deal he made with the devil.

As Snoop Dogg intended, Murder Was the Case, revealed a side of the streets that couldn’t be shown on general music video platforms. In an interview regarding the film Snoop Dogg said,

“Videos, kind of limit us. MTV, BET, they only let you play so much of what you do… When we go in the studio [to make our songs] we make them hardcore and straight from the streets. So, this video is like a dedication to that… staying true to what we do, saying that we ain’t going to stick to making rated PG videos. This one is a rated R video just like the song is. It’s just real. It’s actuality.”

Still, behind the apparent violence, explicit dialogue, and sexually lewd behavior, Snoop Dogg makes it clear that he simply does what is necessary to make it through another day in the hood.

While the short film is only 18 minutes long, it has been padded with performances, interviews, and music videos including “Gin and Juice” and “Doggy Dogg World”. You can also find countless other important figures in the film and the included music videos including, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, Pam Grier, John Witherspoon, John Amos, and late comedians Ricky Harris and Charlie Murphy.

Check out the full movie including interviews, performances, and music videos below.

Written by DJ Robinson

– On August 1st, 1995, Mafioso themed artistry was forever ingrained into hip-hop culture with the release of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx A.K.A The Purple Tape; Wu-Tang member Raekwon’s debut solo album.

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is fueled by a heavy dosage of gritty street-inspired tales, a sequential movie-like vibe including Kung Fu and Mafia film clips (courtesy of RZA of course), and countless allusions to organized crime – particularly that of American Mafia culture. And, while Kool G Rap is generally credited as the official originator of Mafioso rap, Raekwon and The Wu’s formula allowed that subculture to truly permeate the streets, dubbing it an instant classic. So much so, it inspired themes, characters, and personas of many other legendary hip-hop albums including Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt (1996) and Notorious B.I.G’s Life After Death (1997). Wu-tang Clan found themselves trendsetting at every turn in tracks like “Wu Gambinos” where you’ll find the entire collective giving themselves alter egos just like the mobsters they’re emulating – a tactic later used by Tupac Shakur (Makaveli), Notorious B.I.G (Frank White), and Nas (Escobar) to name a few.

Other factors that led to the incredible reception of this album included the beginning of the Raekwon-Ghostface Killah duo, the introduction of Cristal as a staple drink in Black culture, an unexpected feature from Nas, and even slang terms deriving from the Supreme Alphabet and Supreme Mathematics of the Five Percent Nation.

Very few people outside of the great Raekwon and his fellow Wu-Tang Clan group members/affiliates can shift an entire culture the way that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx did. Although Wu-Tang Clan has left a trail of greatness everywhere that they’ve stepped, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, is often regarded as one of the two best solo projects ever created by a Wu-Tang member, alongside GZA’s Liquid Swords.

According to RZA, “The only two albums I did with nobody fucking with me was Linx and Liquid Swords. I was on a mission.” Well…that explains a lot.

Make sure you take the time to get a few listens out of this project. It’s well worth it as you may even find some hidden gems, such as material sampled in Jay Z’s 4:44 album.