Is Tupac Shakur the most overrated artist ever?
That’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?