On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
2Pac – Dear Mama (1995)
” Dear Mama” is a song by American hip hop recording artist 2Pac, released on February 21, 1995, as the lead single from his third studio album, Me Against the World . The song is a tribute to his mother, Afeni Shakur.
We’re continuing in the US, dear reader, and making our way east all the way to New York. Tupac Shakur, known by his stage name 2Pac, was born in New York but when it came to pursuing a music career he relocated to Los Angeles in 1993. One of the key names in hip hop, 2Pac’s career would be a short one but his legacy continues to endure. We join him in 1995 with the release of his third album, Me Against the World, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Dear Mama.
2Pac’s most personal album to date, Me Against the World, addressed various personal struggles in his life as he faced a prison sentence around this time. In Dear Mama, 2Pac writes an ode of sorts to his mother, Afeni Shakur, who was a political activist. In the song 2Pac recounts a tough upbringing in poverty and how his mother raised him and his sister with fathers being absent from the picture. 2Pac tells his mother that he wishes to celebrate her but she is by no means perfect. Struggling with drug addiction, she had to care for her children while finding money for her next fix. 2Pac cites the good and the bad in his mother but assures her that no woman compares to her and that his love and appreciation of her will always beat back any negative memories that he has of her.
I often struggle with hip hop tracks but Dear Mama is straightforward and heartfelt. It is one son looking back fondly at his mother and all she did for him in watching over his journey from a child to a man. Although 2Pac himself would have troubles in his personal life, including a prison sentence for sexual assault and surviving being shot, his music was very popular and he rose to superstardom by the mid-1990s. In 1996 2Pac was in Las Vegas celebrating a friend’s birthday when he was shot four times. Although rushed to hospital, he died six days later from internal bleeding. He was 25 years old.
Favourite songs so far: