The sad thing about Tupac is that he was taken from the world at such an early age. His death shocked not only the world of rap, but the entire music industry. The fact that he was so talented, and had his whole career in front of him, was not lost on anyone.
Even though he was unable to live a full life, he had already released a vast number of songs that would become real classics. So, here’s our list of the 31 best Tupac songs that would make up his greatest hits.
1. California Love
This song is perhaps his most loved and best known, and for good reasons. Also featuring Dr. Dre, the track has a funky feel while Tupac has power and anger in his lyrics as he spits through each verse. The way he delivers is like poetry in motion, and with a thumping beat in the background, what’s not to love about this track?
2. When Thugz Cry
This track samples the song Fragile by Sting, and Tupac certainly makes the most of the beat it gave him. This is quite a personal track as Tupac tells us more about violence and issues in his life growing up, and you feel the anger and pain throughout. It’s a powerful song delivered with just enough passion to make you sit up and take notice.
3. Brenda’s Got a Baby
We had to add this track because Tupac delves into issues being faced by teen mothers, as well as detailing an extremely sad story related to Brenda, and he was one of the first male rappers to do this. It’s a touching subject, and he delivers his verses with enough compassion to make you feel the right level of emotion.
The beat in this song is mesmeric, and the way Tupac delivers is near-on perfection. His flow takes you on a journey through the track, and even though the lyrics were viewed as somewhat political, he manages to guide you through it all with absolute ease. If this is the first Tupac track you ever listen to, then you will quickly become a fan.
5. Lil’ Homies
This track shows Tupac going back to his youth and letting us know all about the impact violence and drugs had on his surroundings. It’s another powerful track tackling tough subjects, and yet Tupac balances it out with having just the correct amount of aggression and emotion in his delivery to make you sit up and take notice.
We love this track because Tupac took the way rap would view women at this time, which was poorly, and turned it around. It’s a song that praises and he also shows his displeasure at the way things have been. It comes with an impressive beat that propels you through the song while Tupac tells you exactly how the world should be.
7. Smile for Me Now remixed
This song is a bit different, it’s a remix by Scarface of an original Tupac song, but what they have done with the remix is astounding. It bounces along while Tupac delivers with a sense of perfection, and his ability to retain absolute control throughout is amazing. Even this remix is a spellbinding tune that you really need to sit down and listen to.
This track is another shining example of the lyrical mastery that Tupac had over his music. He delivers bars like they are all part of poetry, and it all adds to the general vibe that the track delivers. It’s another cool song whereby Tupac looks into life in general with his take on how life should all run, and he does it to the same high standards you always expect from him.
9. Against all Odds
Seen as a diss song, this track allows Tupac to blast out his feelings, and he does so in a way that is not typical of his normal style. That’s why we had to include it as it does show a different side to his ability to deliver stunning lines no matter what he’s talking about.
10. all about u
This is yet another classic Tupac track where he allows his unique style to flow with absolute ease throughout the song. It comes across as a bit brazen as you listen with a magnificent beat, simply pulling the track through with absolute ease. The track appeared on his album, All Eyez On Me, and it shows how he has been on top of his game from the very outset.
11. All by myself
This track has to have one of the best beats around. Tupac produces another catchy track that manages to pull you in as he throws out his lyrics in this song that is on the self-indulgence side from beginning to end. However, Tupac still gives out his usual smooth flow with enough passion to let you know exactly what he’s thinking at any given moment.
12. Only God Can Change Me
This track highlights Tupac as coming across quite angry about the rap world and the way it’s run. The song is heavy and has a real mood about it all that seeps through in both the verses and the beat. Yet, it also shows how Tupac was a master at getting his message across as he does so with absolute power from beginning to end.
13. Hit Em Up
Viewed as a diss track, it also features the Outlawz in collaboration with Tupac. But honestly, this is one of the most brutal diss tracks you will ever come across, and there’s just no holding back at any point. Tupac blasts through with an angry and hyped flow that makes you feel as if all this pressure is being released from him. It’s a classic diss track.
14. Big bad lady
This was a track where Tupac was featured alongside Lady of Rage, and it’s a bouncing track with different artists blending together to perfection. Expect a sense of speed and ferocity while they both have so much to say and throw out their verses with a feeling of confidence in their delivery.
15. Be the realist
This track by Tupac is perhaps not quite as aggressive and forceful as others he has produced over the years, but don’t let that make you think he’s getting soft. Instead, it’s more of a controlled song from the first bars, and it’s just a stunning track capable of taking you along on a vibe.
16. Black cotton
This is a posthumous single, and it lets you see what the world is missing after his death. Among other people, it features Eminem, and it’s a wonderful track showcasing the different styles that come with various rappers. The various layers blend together into a smooth song that may not have any real highs, but where it delivers perfection throughout.
17. Black jesuz
This song was controversial due to the lyrics, but it also shows how Tupac was not afraid to speak his truth at any point. He keeps it simple and allows the lyrics to speak for themselves, which also shows a confidence and faith in what he’s saying allowing him to just let it flow and for you to see what the end result is going to be.
One thing we have to say about this track is that it’s deep. Actually, some see it as one of the deepest tracks that Tupac has ever produced. In the song, he speaks to people who he thinks may be offended on the album and addresses their issues early on. Again, you get the feeling that he’s content in what he has to say, which is a real sign of his excellence as a rapper.
19. Black starry night
This track is a surprise as Tupac talks about Van Gogh and his creativity. It’s just not what you would expect, and yet Tupac manages to tell a story throughout. It’s poetic and storytelling at its best, and we just love how Tupac has taken such a different approach compared to his norm.
With a thunderous beat thumping you through the track, this is one song by Tupac you don’t want to miss. As always, Tupac bounces through his verses with such energy and with the right amonut of pressure at key moments to keep you interested. It gets to the point where you will feel exhausted by the sheer forcefulness of the track.
21. Bury me a g
With sampling from the Isley Brothers, we have another glorious tune by Tupac designed to shake you to your core. Tupac has no issue with spitting out his truth throughout the track, but this song is different. It has the ability to touch your soul more than pretty much any other song he has produced, and that’s saying something considering his list of hits.
22. can u get away
This solid song is able to come across as quite steady, rather than taking you on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s going to suck you in as Tupac raps about making sure you have the well-being of women at heart while he comes across as forceful in the way he talks. It’s clear he feels passionate about this type of subject, and he won’t be holding back in ensuring you leave the song with the same ideas as him.
23. The case of the misplaced mic
If you want to experience some real storytelling via rap, then this is one track that will probably stand out above all others. Tupac takes you on a voyage of imagery in a way that only he was ever able to do. You sense a range of emotions throughout the track, as Tupac, at times, feels as if he is opening up his soul. There’s a rawness about it all that you cannot avoid, resulting in a powerful track that is one to remember.
24. Catchin feelins
This track allows Tupac to effectively hypnotize you with his voice and delivery. His flow comes across in a similar way to a maestro on the violin able to inject the correct amount of emotion at the right time. This is another heartfelt song, but the velocity in his voice stands out as the rawness of the verse ties in perfectly with the beat, letting you know you are in line for a masterful display, and Tupac is not about to let you down.
25. Changed man
Tupac creates this track along with Nate Dogg, so you already know you are in for some smooth vocals that will pump through the song. But even though Nate Dogg does his thing, just pay attention to Tupac and how everything here is flawless. His delivery, the flow, everything sits in harmony with the beat resulting in a stunning track from start to finish.
26. Cradle to the grave
This track from 1994 consists of Tupac along with his crew, Thug Life. For most, this track is rap in its purest form. It results in insane lyrics delivered to the point of absolute perfection. The style of delivery that comes from Tupac is stunning, and even in the song you can feel the overwhelming presence he has over everyone else. Again, it’s a gorgeous track that fully deserves to be listened to on repeat.
27. Crooked nigga too
If you want to listen to a Tupac track that has the ability to get you pumped, then this is one we suggest. From a thumping beat along with sharp delivery, you feel pulled along the track simply by being caught in the wind created by the energy pouring out of the song. Oh, and the beat was created by Eminem, which is a cool side note to check out.
28. Pac’s life
This track features both T.I. and Ashanti, and yet it’s Tupac who clearly shines throughout. His voice is perfect, and he has this ability to balance between different emotions. The control he has over both the tone and tempo is really the stuff of legend, and this track allows him to really showcase this over and over again. He was a master at what he did, and would outshine anyone in a track, no matter who they were.
29. Dear mama
This song focuses on Tupac talking about the relationship with his mother. It’s raw, and it’s amazingly honest in its subject, and Tupac does not hold back when he’s working through his feelings on the subject. There are times where it feels poignant and touching, so prepare for the floodgates to open with a track that has a more laid-back and determined beat to reflect the tone of the song.
30. Deadly combination
This track has to be included in the list for the simple reason it features both Tupac and Biggie in a collaboration. Considering what would happen after the track, it just feels as if these two huge stars should have been able to share more moments such as this. Alongside Big L, it’s almost prophetic as part of the song is about Tupac being shot. It’s sad that part came true.
Recommended: The Tupac and Biggie Smalls beef, explained
31. Dopefiend’s diner
With a sample from Suzanne Vega included in the track, this song is one that you will find on the “Best of” album, and it’s understandable why it appears on that album when you check out the track. What you get here is a sample of the extensive range Tupac had, and his delivery is going to leave you with goosebumps. There is such a depth to the song, as there is with most of his tracks, and this is just another perfect example of that.
Barry has worked as a freelance writer for over a decade and has developed an eye for detail when it comes to unearthing cool and interesting facts.
His love of music stems from his student days checking out up and coming bands playing in the darkest corners of bars and clubs in Edinburgh.
The love of uncovering something new also remains with him. With an appreciation for music that’s best described as eclectic, his musical tastes range from Eric Clapton to Eminem through to Snow Patrol and Incubus. The memories that music can bring back to the fore is something he tries to portray in his writing.
For him, the voyage of discovery and unearthing something new is what makes this task of writing for MusicGrotto.com so interesting.