All Eyez On Me is the fourth album by Tupac Shakur, released on February 13, 1996.
In many ways, it was a first for Pac: It was his first double album, his first to be released since being bailed out from prison and signing with Death Row Records, and his first album to be certified Diamond (one of the few rap albums to earn that distinction). It was also his last completed body of work to be released prior to his murder.
Despite the financial success of Me Against the World, Tupac was flat broke, in prison for sexual assault, all but dropped from Interscope Records, and unable to pay his $1.4 million bail due to his legal fees. In October 1995, after having served nine months of his sentence, Suge Knight visited Shakur in jail, and made him an offer: Sign a record deal with Death Row, and the label would personally pay his bail. With no other options, and no money, Shakur signed with Death Row to get out of prison. As part of their agreement, Shakur was required to release at least 3 albums for Death Row in return for posting his bail.
Thanks to a contractual loophole, with All Eyez On Me, being a double album, Shakur could have managed to weasel out of his contract early, since it counted as two albums on it's own.
Recorded entirely in the same month he got out of prison, All Eyez On Me boasted lush G-Funk production from Dr. Dre, DJ Quik (credited under his legal name, David Blake), Johnny J, George Clinton, Daz Dillinger, & more. A celebration of both his release from prison, and of living the "Thug Lifestyle", this album moves Tupac away from his sociopolitical slant, and showcases a more stereotypical Gangsta Rap sound, with hints of mafioso rap. That said, he's still got a few sociopolitical tracks on the album, as well as some introspective tracks reminiscing about old friends.
In addition to the star-studded production on the album, the album also featured guest vocals from established musical vets like George Clinton, Zapp frontman Roger Troutman, Jodeci members K-Ci & JoJo, E-40, Snoop Dogg, and Method Man, the latter being the only Wu-Tang member to have released songs with Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G..note
Upon release, All Eyez On Me received near-universal acclaim from reviewers, and debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, eventually being certified Diamond for over 10 million in sales; one of the few rap albums to earn the certification. It also spun off two #1 pop hits in "California Love" & "How Do U Want It", the former of which also helped revive Roger Troutman's then-declining career, and earned both him and Shakur Grammy Award nominations. To this day, All Eyez On Me is considered one of Tupac's best albums, and among many, his magnum opus, alongside Me Against The World.
However, the success of the album did little to ease Tupac's financial woes. Suge Knight kept the album's royalties away from Tupac, under the excuse of not recouping his budget in more ways than one (Most, if not all of Pac's money came from Suge himself, and Knight even owned the house Tupac lived in at the time, unbeknownst to the latter), thus keeping Pac on a leash, and on Death Row. Sadly, Tupac would never get to fully enjoy the success from the album, as he was murdered in a drive-by seven months after its release. After his death, it was said that Tupac had over $15 million in royalties that were never paid out to him from Death Row.
Disc 1: Book 1
- "Ambitionz Az a Ridah"
- "All Bout U"
- "Got My Mind Made Up"
- "How Do U Want It"
- "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted"
- "No More Pain"
- "Heartz of Men"
- "Life Goes On"
- "Only God Can Judge Me"
- "Tradin' War Stories"
- "California Love (Remix)"
- "I Ain't Mad at Cha"
- "What'z Ya Phone #"
Disc 2: Book 2
- "Can't C Me"
- "Shorty Wanna Be a Thug"
- "Holla at Me"
- "Wonda Why They Call U Bytch"
- "When We Ride"
- "Thug Passion"
- "Picture Me Rollin'"
- "Check Out Time"
- "Ratha Be Ya Nigga"
- "All Eyez on Me"
- "Run tha Streetz"
- "Ain't Hard 2 Find"
- "Heaven Ain't Hard 2 Find"
Ambitionz Az a Tropah
- all lowercase letters: The album's title.
- The Apunkalypse: The first half of the "California Love" video.
- All Just a Dream: ...Which was a nightmare Tupac wakes up from in the beginning of the second half of the video.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: This album as a whole is one of the quintessential examples of this trope in hip hop.
- End of an Era: Averted. Pac was transitioning to using "Makaveli" as his stage name full time with this album, and All Eyez On Me was supposed to the last album under the name "2Pac". But after his death, only The Don Killuminati officially credited him as "Makaveli".
- Foreshadowing: A particularly creepy example. Although Tupac predicted an early death for himself since his first album, the intro for "I Ain't Mad At Cha"'s music video, filmed mere weeks before his murder, showed him being gunned down in a shooting, though in different circumstances than how it actually happened. In real life, Pac was killed in a drive-by, while in the video, he acted as a Human Shield to protect his friend when a gunman showed up.
- Gangsta Rap: Unapologetically Commercial, thanks to Death Row's influence, with a glazing of Hardcore; though Pac sometimes dips into his Blue Collar roots on tracks like "I Ain't Mad At Cha" & "Life Goes On".
- Lighter and Softer: "Softer" would be pushing it, but All Eyez On Me is nowhere near as dark or political as his prior releases.
- Mood Whiplash: The sombre, nostalgic "I Ain't Mad at Cha" segues into the upbeat (even for G-Funk standards) and sexually explicit "What'z Ya Phone #" near the end of Book 1. And that's not even the first or last example of this trope happening on the album as a whole.
- New Sound Album: While Me Against the World had dabbled in the G-Funk sound with varying degrees of success, All Eyez On Me is pure G-Funk from top to bottom. Interestingly, despite being the executive producer, Dr. Dre himself only produced two tracks on the album.
- Really Gets Around: "How Do U Want It", though only for the first verse. This was actually taken to the logical extreme while filming the music video for the song: Tupac had managed to have sex with all the women who appear in the video for "How Do U Want It?" within such a short period of time, he wound up in the emergency room for "exhaustion."
- Take That!: Though it wasn't included on the album, "Hit 'em Up", a diss track aimed at Bad Boy Records, particularly The Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy, and several other East Coast rappers, played a large part in the marketing and sales for All Eyez On Me, and fanned the already blazing flames of the East-West coast feud.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Just about every song title.