Tupac’s All Eyez On Me vs. Digital Underground’s Sex Packets. Which Is Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.
The latest face-off finds one group’s greatest work facing off against its star pupil. Digital Underground would introduce the world to Tupac Shakur—first through stage shows, and later rhyme features. ‘Pac took the ball and dunked, becoming arguably the 1990s’ biggest Rap star. His 1996 double-album All Eyez On Me is a polarizing listen, even to some ‘Pac super-fans. However, this diamond-certified LP takes on Shock G, Humpty Hump, Money-B and 1990’s Sex Packets—an album, that even though he was not on, he may owe his career to. Both acts loved women, started many a party, and rode the groove to spit rhymes with clarity. Which release is the better of the two? (Click on one then click “vote”).
All Eyez On Me by 2Pac
Upon exiting Clinton Correctional Facility, Tupac Amaru Shakur got in a chartered Death Row Records plane, and in his mind, knew he was about to hijack the Rap industry. In the commercial boom of Rap, ‘Pac’s well-heeled peers were locking themselves in major studios, hiring a la carte star producers, and carefully coiffing for classics. For the tattooed ex-con, all he needed was 14 days, a plethora of Hennessy, Newports, loose-leaf, and an onslaught of beats to make the diamond-certified All Eyez On Me. A man of great excess, ‘Pac ballooned a double-album that basked in its own grandeur. From Funk icons to a sprawling wish-list of his peers, Shakur made a cathartic album following a year of introspection, angst, glory, and vitriol. It’s rushed, overflowing, and in many ways disjointed, but All Eyez On Me was a ride-along for the wildest trip any Rap star could steer—and the listener was able to ride shotgun.
Of the 27 included tracks, “All Eyez On Me” may be the greatest summation of ‘Pac’s early ’96 worldview. Perceived as a victim, Shakur had returned, guns-loaded, with a menacing posse of Outlawz, Death Row “inmates,” and California soldiers at his side. He was basking in the love, but spitting at all who trespassed against his pride. “Holla At Me” and the stellar DJ Quik production “Heartz Of Men” maintained this attitude too, with ‘Pac’s use of cadence stronger than on any other album. However, as convicted and sincere as the Thug Life alum was, All Eyez was his chance to drink, smoke, and party. “California Love,” “All About U” and “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” were ‘Pac reveling in the moment. In between the endless stream of bars, even in the booming singles, the artist so many had trusted with their hearts dropped jewels. “I’m losin’ my religion” he nearly danced over on the Snoop Dogg super-collabo. On “Picture Me Rollin’,” he prayed, “Mama, I’m still thugging, the world is a war zone / My homies is inmates, and most of them dead wrong.” Even though he was busy counting money, assassinating characters, and spitting on Dr. Dre club tracks, ‘Pac was everything he’d grown to be in the first half of the decade. In a decadent setting, he pushed boundaries on an album. “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” and “Heaven Ain’t Hard 2 Find” were pure pageantry, as ‘Pac also met his quota of radio-aimed hits (“California Love” and “How Do You Want It”) to win over swing-voters in Rap’s cross-coastal rivalry. All Eyez On Me, lyrically, is unrestrained Tupac, and scattered brilliance therein. The man battling foes, label-mates, and presumably himself made a raw, in-the-moment release, and did it beautifully enough to make it last 20 years. Had it been edited to one glorious disc, All Eyez tickles masterpiece status. But even in its disjointedness, flaws, and whimsicality, no one wants to lose a single word from Rap’s Thug Poet Laureate.
Album Number: 4 (solo)
Released: February 13, 1996
Label: Death Row/Interscope Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #1 (certified gold, April 1996; certified platinum, April 1996; certified diamond, July 2014)
Song Guests: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Roger Troutman, Redman, Method Man, Rappin’ 4-Tay, Tha Dogg Pound (Daz Dillinger & Kurupt), K-Ci & JoJo, Tha Outlawz (Khadafi, Big Syke, Hussein Fatal, Napoleon, & Storm), C-Bo, Richie Rich, Danny Boy, E-40, D-Shot, B-Legit, CPO The Boss Hogg, Michel’le, Nate Dogg, Jewell, DJ Quik, Dorothy Coleman, Puff Johnson, Natasha Walker, Danette Williams, Barbara Wilson, Nanci Fletcher, Stacey Smalley, Carl “Butch” Small, Sean “Barney” Thomas, Jojo The Elf, Ebony
Song Producers: (self), Johnny J, Dr. Dre, Daz Dillinger, DJ Quik, DJ Pooh, QDIII, Devanté Swing, Doug Rasheed, Bobby “Bobcat” Ervin, Rick Rock, Mike Mosley, Harold “Scrap” Freddie
Sex Packets by Digital Underground
From the Bay Area, Digital Underground, Shock G’s musical brainchild, injected Funk in the least pretentious way in 1990’s Sex Packets. The sultry album, complete with condoms on the cover, urged all to check inhibitions at the door and “Doowutchyalike.” The Tommy Boy Records release may have not taken itself overly seriously, but it proved to be a tight pocket of tracks, beautifully directed by the P.T. Barnum showmanship of Shock G (and sometimes alter-ego Humpty Hump). “The Humpty Dance” proves to be one of the most timeless singles of the 1990s, and a song—unlike those of Young MC, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Tone-Loc, to remain unblemished by time, wedding DJs, and memes. The large nose (and large livin’) of the crossover hit refused to pander. Digital Underground was Groucho Marx, Sly Stone, and Slick Rick rolled all into one—homogeneously.
Although Gregory Jacobs and his cohorts hailed from Oakland, California, Sex Packets is an a-geographical album. The group had little overlap with Too Short, and instead just rocked. “The Way We Swing” understood just how original the display was, complete with Jimi Hendrix extended grooves and liberal scratching. Money-B showed that the ensemble had its role-players on “Freaks Of The Industry,” one of the many cuts that stretched past the five-minute mark (one of the very few Short Dog commonalities). Although the prophylactic theme may have appeared gimmicky (no more so than TLC’s approach), Sex Packets fully executes the concept. The idea of protecting oneself while having fun is a major takeaway for the group who hung loose, chilled out, and wore sunglasses by night. The 14-track debut was a lone platinum dance for Shock, Hump’, Money, and the rest of the gang, but this group won over Heads beyond the Rap consumer base. D.U. remains active today because of their ability to stay consistent to the “Rhymin’ On The Funk” course, pay little attention to trends, and create a party anytime Hip-Hop seems stiff.
Album Number: 1
Released: March 26, 1990
Label: Eurobond/Tommy Boy Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #1 (certified gold, June 1990; certified platinum, September 1990)
Song Guests: N/A
Song Producers: (self)
So which is the better album? Make sure you vote above.