Reconciling who Tupac was is never easy given how complex his character was. His career went through so many phases and shifts, he could be a passionate man of the people in one instance, then turn into the resented villain the next. In his career, those who were around to witness it saw him morph from the militant, aspiring MC on 2pacalypse Now to the bad boy of All Eyez on Me in both his personal life and his music. But no project better encapsulated who Tupac was than his first posthumous project, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. That album turns twenty years old this Saturday, November 5.
The album was recorded in three days then mixed and mastered in four, according to folklore surrounding the audio version of Pac’s last will and testament. It would also serve as his third and final release of his Death Row contract, signed while in prison. The parting project took on greater significance after his untimely death in September of 1996 because, when broken down to its basics, the 12 songs end up creating the most complete version of who he was.
What is often lost regarding Tupac’s career, is he only released five full length albums, and only four of them came out while he was living. Everything he did was over the course of five years, even though he left behind a catalogue of material that’s been mined to create five more albums and a smattering of mixtapes.
Tupac wasn’t a rapping soothsayer, yet he held a strong ability to articulate what black people were facing at that time, and what would be coming in the years ahead if changes weren’t made. He owes that to his understanding of history, instilled in him by his mother and other elders who surrounded him since birth. By looking back, he was able to look ahead on songs like “White Man’z World,” the pain-filled ode to black women where he apologizes to the “true sisters” who are “far from bitches.”
The tribute is not as well known as the more radio-successful “Dear Mama,” but “White Man’z World” actually has just as much of a wide appeal because men, too, can relate to the sentiments of struggle embodied in the tune. He offers an apology “For all those times that I messed up or we messed up” that could be him speaking just for himself, as easily as it sounds like he’s voicing the thoughts of other brothers or even the whole of America for pushing black women down instead of uplifting them.