Is Tupac Shakur the most overrated artist ever?

Tupac_lThat’s what Blender thinks (h/t). Or at least that’s what Blender is willing to say in order to stir up some controversy and sell their newest issue. ‘Pac just topped the music mag’s sarcasm-drenched list of "The 33 Most Overrated People, Places, Trends and Other Junk in  Rock," beating out such worthy contenders as "God" (No. 16), "Getting Backstage" (No. 27) and "Sexin’ All Night Long" (No. 33). Most of the entries are little conceptual jokes like those, making it even more obvious that they’re just bidding for attention by bashing Tupac so prominently. Ha ha! But… well… do they have a point about ‘Pac?

Look, his death was a real tragedy. He was a charismatic cultural figure who inspired (and continues to inspire) millions. And he definitely recorded a handful of classic songs. He was even a pretty solid actor! But I’d be lying if I said Tupac’s lyrical efforts always impressed me — emphasis on "always." Blender‘s blurb here is actually a lot more thoughtful than that scare headline would suggest (links contain NSFW lyrics): "…while Tupac’s musical highs were epic — the pro-feminist ‘Keep YaHead Up,’ the terrifying ‘Hail Mary,’ the boisterous ‘CaliforniaLove’ — that still leaves 15,837 other songs. He was a good rapper, not agreat one." Yep. I respect the guy’s legacy, I really enjoy an album or so’s worth out of his hugely voluminous catalog, but no one who recorded as much forgettable filler as ‘Pac will ever be in my personal top 10 emcees.

Of course, "overrated" is a silly, subjective category. And saying Tupac gets more disproportionate praise than anyone or anything seems like a real stretch to me — especially when, like, Vampire effin’ Weekend is still getting taken seriously. But whatever. I’m really much more offended by the editors’ decision to put "the music you loved as a teenager" at No. 23 on their list. Screw you, Blender, the music I loved as a teenager is my jam! (Including a couple of Tupac songs.) But you tell me: Does Tupac’s reputation deserve to be taken down a peg or two, or what?

Comments (91 total) Add your comment
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  • Snarf

    Not into rap myself at all but it does seem like there’s a certain, uh, unwilligness to look at his discography objectively shall we say?
    And cue the cries of racisim in 5, 4, 3, 2…

    • Senthuran

      Well you’re kind of missing what he was talented at….. http://www.2pac2k.de/poems.html
      I think u lot need to see this be4 u say anything. He was a talented, charismatic, charitable man who we lost too early.

  • waynemichaels

    Tupac by far is THE MOST OOOOOOOVERRATED RAP ARTIST…..EVER!…. to me NOTORIOUS B.I.G. WAS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE GREATEST RAP ARTIST OF ALL TIME.

  • EP Sato

    Why does Popwatch give any press time to Blender’s clueless lists in the first place? Time and time again, their staff have proven that they don’t know much about music. Example? Blender has referred to the Beatles’ “Oh Bla Di” as a reggae song more than once. However, there was NO REGGAE at the time the White Album came out. The genre known as reggae didn’t come into existence until two years after Oh Bla Di came out, which was actually a SKA song.
    My point? Music journalists who dish about music should know more than the fans, not the other way around.
    Nevermind that Blender is what Maxim Magazine would be if it were a little bit more focused on music. Are you in college and think your taste in mainstream music is better than everyone else’s? Want to see lots of boobies and read smart alecky comments from smarmy pseudo-journalists? Then read Blender…

  • EP Sato

    BTW how did Jerry Garcia not make that list? I’d argue he’s 100 times more overrated than Tupac ever was.

  • BinkyM

    Seems as if anytime *anyone* dies, his work suddenly becomes a lot better than it was in retrospect. (shrug) Tupac’s an excellent example of this. Another was Marilyn Monroe who, let’s face it, simply wasn’t a good actress.

  • MELLY MEL

    You guys are all stupid. If you actually take a few minutes to sit and listen to more than the pop songs the radio plays, and pay attention to the words he speaks you could learn something. Everysingle cd he put out was classic. You can listen to every song on every cd he ever put out. You cant do that these days. When you buy a cd your lucky if you get 4 good songs. You have to be ignorant to his work to say he’s overrated.

  • katgirl

    I think Tupac is not overated. His raps are from life experiences and are real. These new rappers are just out for the bling and fame. No comparison.

  • Wojo

    Blender really is a pretty terrible music magazine. Every issue has the same tired jokes about the same over-exposed people. I made the mistake of getting a subscription a while ago because I’d flip through it while waiting in line at Blockbuster and often chuckled at it. But it didn’t take a long time for me to realize that their staff is not only lacking in music knowledge but also lacking in creativity. However, I still get it because I’m too lazy to cancel the subscription.
    As for Tupac, I’m not a rap expert so I don’t know how much weight my opinion carries, but I find his songs to be kind of stale after a few listens. I have his greatest hits on my Ipod, and the only song I always listen to when it comes up on shuffle is “Brenda’s Got a Baby.” Everything else can be skipped at any moment. I don’t think his music is nearly as entertaining as say Outkast or any number of guys still out there today.

  • outlawz

    this is dumb. you can’t judge him on the stuff that was released after death- every artist makes raps that don’t make the final album cut.
    for pac, too many weak producers like eminem tried to release his unreleased stuff and just ended up putting out crap.
    look at how bad biggie’s unreleased tracks were – if there was 6 albums of that out you’d call him overrated too

  • J

    Most overrated in my opinion: Kurt Cobain.

  • Bishop

    How do you rate a rapper? Tupac is certainly one of prolific rappers (if not the most). His commercial reach went beyond traditional listeners of rap. His lyrics and personal story gave him street cred. And his bravado was unmatched. More important he rhymed about more than cars, fashion, women and the accumulation of wealth. Sure other rappers did the same. But no one can match him in making you feel when you listened to him that there was at least one other person who felt like it was him against the world – even after all that commercial success. You can’t say that about Jay Z. If Tupac is overrated, what does that make Blender? The magazine is living off of Maxim ad rates and circulation numbers. Blender is to Rolling Stone magazine, as Ja Rule is to Tupac. Small in relevance and stature in its respective community. Now I’m gonna let the rest of my lil homies ride on that rag that considers itself journalism.

  • BJohnson

    To be honest, Blender’s list always suck. They do the crappy lists so people can talk about them. I honestly had no clue there was a magazine called that until they started doing these list. So I don’t think they really make the list on if they really believe it or they just want the mention in EW or on local radio stations. It worked, here we are talking about it on the blog.

  • BrandonK

    Since when does Tupac’s rapping qualify as “rock”?

  • Devastator9

    Snarf, your way out there guy…It has nothing to do with racism, just ignorance, Like, “Not into rap myself” lol So your expertise is where?

  • S.D

    Well from someone who does own Pac’s ENTIRE ‘released’ collection, I can say that if anything…Pac aint given enough credit… And the writer of this article don’t even seem to know Pacs music…All he stated was his released singles when any TRUE pac fan knows that most of his bangers were not the singles..That tells me that all you know is the shyt you’ve heard on the radio…That aint even to take away from the singles but the ALBUM is what brought it.. Ballad of a Dead Soulja, Static, Trapped (realeased)…man I can go on and on..PAC is G.O.A.T and before you write something on hym make sure you knowledgable of his music…

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