An Analysis of Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z : The 20th anniversary of a Revolutionary Rap Album

2013 will not only marked the 40th year anniversary of the birth of American hip-hop culture. It will also marked two decades since the realization of a great revolutionary rap album “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z” . Originally , this album was released on February 16 1993 on Interscope/ Jive Zomba Records. It was with this project that Tupac A. Shakur better known artistically as 2pac was at his apex lyrically. This album is a unique masterpiece in itself. Specifically, this album was meant “ to sparkle the mind of black urban revolution in the 1990’s and beyond” . 2pac was not only an hip-hoper he was a revolutionary with a long term vision. Nevertheless, he did not evolve artistically in an environment who understood his vision according to some of analysis of his  jegnas “ African term in replacement of Mentor” like Dr. Mutulu Shakur and Dr. Watani Tyehimba.

According to Tyehimba, 2pac was a pro-active revolutionary with a timeless psychology who could easily mobilize and galvanize the poor and ostracize youth. When we break down a clear analysis of “ Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” and other revolutionary rap albums like  P.E’s “ Fear of a Black Planet” Lakim Shabazz “ The Lost Tribe of Shabazz ” Professor Griff’s “ Pawns in The Game” or Sistah Souljah’s “ 360 Degrees of Power” we clearly see that the motive of those project’s was “ TO CREATE A LONG TERM


 Essentially, in this interviews similar as those he gave to Black watch ( actually deleated by the Internet and federal agencies)  he spoke fiercely about his nationalist and neo-panafricanist ( modernization of panafricanism in the context of the coming of the 21rst century) point of view and the need to pull out some resources for an independent socio-economic development of the black, cultural and poor communities. This was the panther speaking out 2pac. Strategically, 2pac didn’t spoke about overthrowing the American government even if he wrote such raps as “ Letter to The president” He made it clear in his second album “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z.” that he was a about building a alternative community with a knowledge of self based on a alternative government. It is really clear when look at some of the lyrics of his verse in “ Last Word “

Keeping the smile off their white fakes/I ain't racist but lets trade places/Trace the hate 'n face it 
One nigga teach two niggas/three teach four niggas/And them niggas teach more niggas
And when we blast /That'll be the biggest blast you've heard/ And them is my last wordz 

Before getting in depth of some of the lyrics of this rap masterpiece. Lets’ analyse the structure of “ Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” It was in  a neo-panafricanist song “ Word of Wizdom” from his first album “ 2pacalypse now” that 2pac first break down the meaning of the word N.I.G.G.A . We ain’t speaking about the word Nigger which came from the latin word Negrecia  according to Anthony T.Browder  and Joel Augustus Rogers. In 2pac terminology N.I.G.G.A stood for “ Never Ignorant Getting Gold Accomplished”.  The   “Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A”  album was composed of two sides : the black side and the dark side.

Tupac had a specific idea in his mind for this dual concept. The main objective of those two side was to emphasize the different phase of “social blackness” in his sociological lyrics.  The black side was consisted of track 1-8. This side as well the second was a really creative. It will be remembered for classic cuts such as the inflammatory “ Holla If Ya Hear me” a track who was massively censured by the administrators of Interscope records during it’s recording process by 2pac in the year 1992; according to the facts of analyst like John Potash ( The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders, 2006) and Watani Tyehimba.  According to Potash ( 2006) they was a governmental bill who allow illegal censorship of any kind ( artistic, journalistic, political) since the end of Contra War. It was conducted by crooked American politicians like Bob Dole and George Bush Sr. The name of the Bill or the Executive order was “ Executive Order 123333”. It’s the same order that was put in place by some American corporative magnet like C.D Jackson and William Bennett. Other tracks worth of mention on the Black side were “ Point The Finga” a reference to the necessity for a sociological violence against the structure of white corporate America from the 1990’s and beyond “ Something 2 Die 4” is considered as  one of the best sociological interlude in American hip-hop history; This interlude was a documentary of the history of violence still in effect in this second decade of the 21rst century. They was many reference in this tracks to some some American youth who died under the fire of gun violence (ex: Natasha Walker and others)  a struggle who still continue today when we see more killings ( ex: Trayvon Martin, Hadya Pendleton, Janey Mcfarlane, Rekia Boyd)

The picture of a struggle in continuation was perfectly painted by 2pac  in really hardcore tracks of the black side like : “ Strugglin” feat The Live Squad and “ Souljah’s Revenge” a cut about police brutality and the insanity in American police department. A track who might get us in the frustrated mind of a Christopher Dorner just to say. The sense or urgency just grew harder on the Darkside of “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z.”  Just like the author Pierre Valières ( Nègres Blanc D’Amérique) 2pac made it so clear that revolutionary violence was necessary. In the same vein as the “ Black side” 2pac bombarded us with strong cuts like “ Guess who’s back” and “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z” which is self- explanatory track by its title. This “ darkside” of “Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z” was a artistic product of it’s era as you may have study it the hardcore rap era was at it’s pic from 1991-1995; this give us a clear understanding on how 2pac decided to “ Represent 1993”. Many other classic American rap album considered as very dark were release in the same era (ex: Dare iz a Darkside, Psychic Thoughts, Back Tha Fuck Up, Enter the 36 Chambers…).
                                         Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z. "Full Album"

 This darkside of “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z.” contained one of Shakur most sentimental ode to women’s “ Keep Ya Head Up” and one of his most commercial party anthem “ I Get Around”. As you can see this “ darkside” of  “ Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z” was not completely inclined in total darkness.  This “ darkside show’s an introspective side of 2pac which is perfectly what we have in tracks like “ The Streetz R Deathrow” and “ Papaz Song” a specific track about the negative aspect of the absence of fatherhood.  A track that we can breakdown in a deep psychological analysis with reference by searchers such as Jawanza Kunjufu ( The Conspiracy to Kill black boys) and Dr. Francis Cress Welsing ( The Isis Papers). “ 5 Deadly Venoms” a finally with hip-hop legends Apache (R.I.P.) and Treach from Naughty by Nature ends up magnificently this revolutionary/hardcore rap album. 
Actually what is the legacy of “ Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z” twenty years later in 2013? Like Molefi Asante Jr. ( It’s Bigger than Hip-Hop: The Rise of a Post Hip-Hop Generation, 2009) said it the current hip-hop movement is lacking of footsoldiers and pro-active activist who are able the galvanize and educate roughly  the ostracize and criminalize youth.

“ Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.AZ” was a manifesto for pro-activity street activism toward this type of youth in the early 1990’s. There’s been many good album released since 1993 to now; nevertheless they lack the proactive vision of “ Strickly…” 2pac was always a pro-active soldier and a visionary. When he was incarcerated in late 1994 to September 1995 he was planning to realize two revolutionary album :
-          Supreme Euthanasia
-          Still I rise
Those two projects by their tracklist embodied the sense of urgency for a black urban revolution that 2pac started to professed on “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z.” Some tracks of “ Supreme Euthanasia” seem really revolutionary by their title: Secretz of war feat Dr. Khalid Muhammad , Da Struggle Continuez feat Chuck D, Kam & Sistah Souljah , The Heartz of Men feat Raekwon and Kool G.Rap . During this same period of his incarceration 2pac wrote many letters to some activist explaining his vision of a “ project of society” this included: Leila Steinberg, Mutulu Shakur, Chuck D… The essence of activism never left 2pac.  Tracks like “ White Man’s World” on Don Killuminati: 7 days theory are self-explanatory according to analyst like John Potash. Like 2pac said it best  “ I might not change the world but I will sparked the mind who will change it !!!”

Effectively, 2pac had a sparkled spirit and a old soul. The sparkling of 2pac can be found in many of his actions; since the release of “ Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z.”
Did you knew how those actions impacted his activist and lobby?  Did you knew that they help him curved out many blueprints of some socio-institutional projects?  2pac was planning since the summer of 1993 to built schools in some poor neighboorhood of the U.S and we as planning to construct a center for woman victim of sexual and psychological harassment. While incarcerated in also did a plan for the opening a pan-africanist family restaurant named “ Powamekka” . 2pac was also making many speeches prior to his 1994 incarceration and after (ex: The Malcom X Dinner in 1992, Indiana Expo in 1993, Marcus Garvey School in 1994-1995) .

                                         2pac at The Malcom X Grassroot Diner around
                                                    1992. He is presented by revolutionary Watani
                                                       Tyehimba. One of is Jegna (mentor).

In fact he never stop preaching. 2pac was a fervent representative of the N.A.P.O ( The New Afrikan People Organization) a movement composed of young African-american who carried the legacy of the Black Panther Party in the early and middle 1990’s. This movement was a predecessor of the New Black Panther Party built by Dr. Khalid Abdoul Muhammad around 1997. It was also an example for many radical and underground activist and grassroots movement in the U.S and all around the world.

Last word on The Legacy of Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
Reflecting on this masterpiece we see that it’s clearly a legacy of revolutionary music and not only rap music. It is also an album who influenced the mind of many hip-hop writings not only on Shakur ( ex: Holler if ya Hear me by Michael E.Dyson,  Rebel with a Cause,  ThugLife by Michael Jeffrees…) but also books about motivation written by hip-hopers.  Just like visionaries before him like Bob Marley, MLK, Malcom X,  Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon and others ; he was ahead of his time.  A album like “ Strickly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.” is a clear reflection of 2pac’s advance perception on not only a pro-active revolutionary message but also of steps towards a post-revolutionary era, that is yet to come.

                                             2pac performing "Keep Ya Head Up" from
                                             the "Strickly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z." album sometime
                                             around 1993.