Eminem continued Paper magazine’s three-part tribute to late hip-hop greats with an ode to the musical versatility and emotional depth of Tupac: “He was taking things further than a lot of rappers at the time — pushing it to the next level as far as giving feeling to his words and his music,” said Eminem. “A lot of people say, ‘You feel Pac,’ and it’s absolutely true.”
Eminem writes he was 18 or 19 when he first heard Tupac rapping on Digital Underground’s “I Get Around.” He picked up a copy of Tupac’s first LP, 2Pacalypse Now, soon after and years later, he said he would still pit 1995’s Me Against the World against any other classic hip-hop record.
The rapper goes on to praise Tupac’s intricate understanding not just of his own lyrics, but where to place them in the context of a beat or a chord change, “to make them jump off track and make you feel what he was saying.” His ability to do this while tapping into such a wide array of emotions was especially important to Eminem as a budding MC.
“He covered such a broad perspective and there were so many different sides to him, but the best part about him overall was that he was a human being,” Eminem added. “He would let you see that. I used to be fascinated with his interviews like, ‘Yo, what he’s saying is so true.’ He would also be able to trump people who were interviewing him when they would hit him with hard questions — it was incredible. He was a superstar in every aspect of the word.”
Eminem’s relationship with Tupac’s music grew even more personal when the late rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur, granted him permission to produce Pac’s fifth posthumous album, Loyal to the Game.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell the 18/19-year-old Marshall that he would ever be able to get his hands on some Tupac vocals and have that opportunity,” Eminem said. “It was such a significant piece of history for me and so much fun. I’m like a kid in a candy store; going nuts with the fact that I’m putting beats under his rhymes. Regardless of how good a rapper someone is, it’s easy for things to eventually get dated. But when you make songs like Tupac did, songs that feel like something, that feeling never goes away.”
Read the whole tribute at Paper.