By Sami Yenigun
This year marks the 20th anniversary of a remarkable year in music. Over the 12 months of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah and more than a dozen other rap groups released albums that helped change the sound of America. That year one of the most influential rappers to ever hold a microphone released his breakout album.
In January 1993, Tupac Shakur was 21 years old. He was about to drop his second album, and the first feature film he starred in had been a success. He was on the cusp of superstardom. Kevin Powell, a young journalist at Vibe magazine, was trying to talk his editors into taking a story.
“I explained to them, ‘Look, there’s this young man who is the son of a Black Panther party member, Afeni Shakur. He already has one album out called 2pacalypse Now and he’s in this really controversial hit film called Juice. He’s someone we should really be paying attention to,’ ” Powell remembers.
Vibe eventually paid attention; so did radio; and the album Tupac released in February, Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z., landed three songs on the charts.
Filmmaker John Singleton had already put out the groundbreaking Boyz n the Hood when he saw Tupac on TV giving an interview. “My attitude was I wanna work with him,” Singleton says. “That’s the dude I wanna work with.” Before 1993 was over, Tupac and Singleton released Poetic Justice.