Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tupac's Ghetto Gospel

It's always interesting to see how the fog of time has the power to alter a memory or put a new spin on the past. In contrast to the in your face confrontational attitude that we're used to expecting from Tupac, Ghetto Gospel is a tightly produced, elegy that I find at times poignant to label "cute." That, of course applies to more than just the part that Elton John sings. In case you're rubbing your eyes increduously because of the mere mention of Elton's true, Sir Elton does indeed have a part in the song. Funny how these days we have an almost savant-like ability to meld two disparate things together. Nonetheless, the final outcome is rather good.

Tucked away in 2004's "Loyal to the Game," one of his posthumous albums, Ghetto Gospel, stood out to me even though I've scarcely heard in since early in my high school days not only because of my preoccupation with nice hooks featuring a nice sample from Elton John's Indian Summer; instead, the recent discussion of Tupac's "thug life" message seemed to be strongly reflected in this song. As usual, Pac calls for an end to the violence on the streets, championing instead unity. This message doesn't seem to be limited to the African American community in Los Angeles; in fact, the lyrics seem to reflect a recognition and empathy with those living in poverty. Additionally, Pac himself believes that he can bring positive changes to the urban community as reflected by all the religious allusions. Dubbing the song a "Gospel" and admitting that "God isn't finished with me yet" reflects a focus on disseminating a spirit of solidarity. Stepping aside from the slick production (courtesy of Eminem and Dr. Dre), it's clear that anyone can appreciate Tupac's efforts to deescalate the violence in the inner city and admire the sincerity of his grand visions.


  1. I really liked this song in middle school, and for some reason, the best rap songs have a great chorus sung by a famous singer with the verses by the rapper. It just sounds the best that way. I think it's interesting that this song was released posthumously. I don't think Tupac ever forgot about his "Thug Lyfe" roots and the movement he had started before going to jail and igniting the West Coast/East Coast rivalry. It's too bad that the violence and the murder overshadows the good that Tupac was trying to do in society.

  2. I had never seen the music video, but Ghetto Gospel is a song that I actually enjoyed listening to off the album. I also had a small attachment to the song "Thugs Get Lonely Too," which features Nate Dogg on the chorus. Since the works were published after the death of 2Pac, I have always wondered whether these lyrics were softened as to take some of the aggression out of his words. Eminem, who produced the album, stated that he used several techniques to alter the pitch and pace of 2Pac's lyrical delivery. Had the late rapper been alive to hear his words spoken alongside Elton John, I wonder how he would feel about the use of his vocals. Perhaps he would like this less aggressive approach to relaying a message that captures the ears of young listeners and is backed by a powerful music video that plays out the common theme of neighborhood violence, especially murder.



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