The Birth of Makaveli

By Ntombi Gontyeleni

Throughout his career, Tupac Amaru Shakur continuously sustained his thug-like mentality and it is evident in all his songs. By 1996, he had survived shootings and had been to prison for eleven months on a sexual harassment charge. He was bound to a three album contract with Suge Knight, the owner of Death Row Records, who bailed him out of jail. Due to his death in 1996, he only finished two albums for the record label: “All Eyez on Me” and “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory”. After the amazing success of “Me against the World” and “All Eyez on Me”, it was clear that Tupac would never be the same again. His growth and maturity is evident in his last two albums. “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” classified as gangster rap, is a reflection of the conflict between his aggressive and activist side and his vulnerable side. He also reflects societal issues and the injustices faced by black people at the time. He finished this album seven months after “All Eyez on Me” and put it together in seven days (thus the album title).

In 1995 Tupac was shot five times and he believed that he was set up by his friends and fellow rappers: The Notorious B.I.G, Puff Daddy, Andre Harrell and many other rappers from the East Coast. This accusation was the foundation of the West and East Coast war. Each side bad mouthed the other side through songs and interviews. After the shooting, Tupac was never the same- he was now obsessed with death. After the incident, all of his songs highlighted this obsession. It was through his poems and songs that he prophesied his death. After coming out of jail, he brought to light his alter ego, Makaveli, inspired by the Italian Renaissance writer Niccolo Machiavelli and his book, The Art of War (1521), which advocates the art of deception to fool one’s enemies. It was believed that Machiavelli faked his own death and since Tupac was inspired by his writings and his name, there are still some fans who believe that Tupac did the same thing and is still alive somewhere in Cuba or Africa.

At this point in his life Tupac was paranoid about death. His verbal attacks to his “enemies” in this album are more direct and sharper. What makes the album more remarkable than his other albums is the simple format (twelve tracks and 60 minutes). It is unbelievable that it was finished in seven days because of its good quality. His rhyme construction is at a high standard and his use of figures of speech makes the album worth listening to for example, “Me and my Girlfriend” (the 7th track and one of his greatest hits), is a metaphor about his gun and how it’s the only girl he “adores” because it is always there for him when he needs protection. The album features K-Ci & JoJo, Aaron Hall and the rest of Tupac’s crew- The Outlaws.

“Hail Mary” and “Me and My Girlfriend” are one of Tupac’s greatest songs ever, that is why they were included in his “Greatest Hits” album. “Toss it up” is a party track and has an R&B feel to it; “To Live & Die in L.A.” is a chilled track with a very nice beat where 2pac expresses his love for L.A; throughout “Me and My Girlfriend”, the Spanish guitar lures the listener; “Hold Ya Head” is an inspirational song dedicated to everyone in prison, telling them to never give up. “Against All Odds” is another one of his diss songs dedicated to enemies in the east coast.

In 2005, MTV.com ranked The 7 Day Theory at number nine on their greatest hip hop albums of all time and in 2006, recognized it as a classic. The emotion and anger showcased on the album has been admired by a large part of the hip-hop community. The album peaked at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and the Billboard 200. The album generated the second-highest debut-week sales total of any album that year, selling 664,000 copies on the first week. This album was certified 6x Platinum on June 15, 1999. The 7 Day Theory is widely considered a classic by numerous hip hop fans and critics. However, it is not the best album produced by Tupac.

One thing that never changes with Tupac’s lyrics is his use of provocative language. In order to fully enjoy his songs, one will have to look past the language. It is amazing how some of his songs lack a clear message- they just about parties and girls- yet they still manage to make one dance and want to learn the lyrics. That ability is what sets him apart from all the other rappers. His biggest competitor is The Notorious B.I.G. They are the two most powerful rappers and their rapping skills have always been compared but Tupac will always be the best rapper to ever live.  He used all his hardships and surroundings to make songs. That is the main reason why a lot of people loved and still love him, because they can relate to his songs.

Overall, this album deserves a scale of four out of five. The quality of the beats and the choice of words should be applauded. This album is definitely not for falling asleep. The loud gun shots and beats of some the songs will not help one fall asleep. This album was released two months after Tupac Shakur died yet it still had an impact on a lot of people. Old school rap lovers must definitely listen to this album however it must be noted that even though this album did not do as well as All Eyez On Me, the true and loyal fans love each and every song by Tupac, weather it was a success or not. Since the legend is no longer living, his fans still share his music and quotes on Tupac’s Facebook fan page and Twitter.

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