Classic Clashes: Death Certificate Vs. Me Against The World
2009 is here and the streets are uncertain. The economy is deteriorating. Political change and turmoil abound and socially we have police killing unarmed cooperating men. The more things change, the more they stay the same.The 1990s had similar issues and historically, in the tradition of Melle Mel, MC's have generally risen to the occasion to feed the streets what they needed in terms of bringing attention to the issues of the day. Some rappers/groups get relegated to consciousville, while some can't seem to shake their gangsta rap coats, or their bling bling identities. Very rarely is an emcee able to navigate all three of those realms without avoiding being stuck as far as perception goes. Not only is it a matter of variety, but also a matter of talent and versatility on the artist and the music they create.Two such rappers were Ice Cube and Tupac Shakur. Together they are probably as conscious as you can get without being preachy or zealous, as hard as you can get while still being considered "real", and as entertaining as emcees as you could get without being soft.Death Certificate came in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating and civil unrest in South Central L.A.. Boyz-N- Da Hood made him a movie star as Dough Boy, and his post N.W.A. notoriety made him arguably the king of Hip-Hop at the time. The album is colored by Ice Cube's experiementation with the Nation of Islam and features interludes with the late Khallid Muhammad. It features songs about gangbanging, from the mental process to the attempt at a truce. It angrily attacks (some would say unfairly) Korean grocers who owned shops in South Central. In all, while probably Cube's angriest album, it stands the test of time thematically and execution wise.Me Against The World stands as Tupac's most well rounded and introspective album. He had enough motherf***ers so the ignant n***as heard him, but conversely featured the timeless "Dear Mama" and the emotionally gripping "So Many Tears." These songs featured a more mature 'Pac, in full control of his voice and tempo and able to address societal issues while still remaining true to his artistry. Mentions of the tragic story of Chicago's Robert "Yummy" Sandifer let you know that Tupac was informed on the ills he rapped about and not just grandstanding.With the Oscar Grant tragedy, rising financial upheaval, and everything else going on in this world, sometimes you miss rappers like this. Here's some of their very best. Death Certificate vs. Me Against The World. All rappers ain't built to be in that position. That's okay. We just thank God for the few that are.