2Pac Asks ‘How Long Will They Mourn Me?': Sept. 26 in Hip-Hop History
On this day in hip-hop history, 2Pac's Thug Life drops their one and only project, Prince releases The Gold Experience, Ludacris undergoes Release Therapy, Jennifer Lopez declares she's still from "the block," Shyne makes his Bad Boy debut and Serena Williams is born.
1994: 2Pac drops Thug Life's first and only project, Vol. 1
2Pac's group Thug Life (Big Syke, Stretch, Mopreme Shakur, the Rated R and Macadoshis) produced only one album, the street-inspired, world weary, Thug Life: Vol. 1. The record remains among the most coveted in his career, boasting a slew of signature hits, including "Cradle to the Grave," "Str8 Ballin'" produced by Easy Mo Bee, "How Long Will They Mourn Me?" featuring Nate Dogg, "Bury Me a G," and "Pour Out a Little Liquor," which also made an appearance on the Above the Rim soundtrack.
The 10-track project went gold, though many of the songs they recorded were cut by Interscope because the label felt the material was too controversial. Much of the project was produced by 2Pac and Stretch, and also features production contributions from Johnny J, Jay Choi, Mopreme, Big Syke and Warren G. In true Pac fashion, the album explores themes of premature death for black men, the pressures of hustle life in the midst of oppression and skirting the system. The album peaked at No. 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and it remains a favorite for hardcore Pac fans.
“Every time I speak I want the truth to come out," 2Pac told MTV in 1994. "Every time I speak I want a shiver. I don’t want them to be like they know what I’m gonna say because it’s polite. I'm not saying I’m gonna rule the world or I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee you that I will spark the brain that will change the world."
1995: Prince releases The Gold Experience while fighting with his label
Prince's 17th studio album, The Gold Experience, arrived in 1995 on Warner Bros. The album came after Prince infamously wrote the word "slave" on his face while in the midst of a contractural dispute with Warner Bros.
“People think I’m a crazy fool for writing ‘slave’ on my face,” he told Rolling Stone in 1996. “But if I can’t do what I want to do, what am I? When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave. That’s where I was. I don’t own Prince’s music. If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.”
A year after the album's release, he secured a deal with Warners' rival, Capitol Records. Prince and Warner would eventually work things out with Prince finally gaining ownership and control over the master recordings of his Warner Bros. catalog in 2014. As for The Gold Experience, it's widely considered to be among his best projects, and featured the hits, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "Eye Hate U," "Shhhh" and "Gold," charting at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Top R&B Albums chart.
1996: 2Pac's "Toss It Up" featuring Danny Boy, K-Ci, JoJo and Aaron Hall is released
The first song released under Pac's new stage name, Makaveli, "Toss It Up," served as the lead single from his final album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, which was released two weeks after his death. Its music video was ilmed on Sept. 6, the day before Pac was fatally shot in Las Vegas. While it's among the weakest tracks on the album, it's memorable if only for that reason, and peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“We did the ‘Toss It Up’ video the day before he got shot,” K-Ci told Power 105's The Breakfast Club in 2015. “He asked me, ‘Yo K man, go to Vegas with me.’ I’m glad I didn’t go. ‘Pac was real, he was real with us, and he loved his craft.”
2000: Shyne drops his self-titled debut
Hyped by a flow that was eerily similar to Biggie, who was murdered three years prior, Shyne's self-titled debut on Bad Boy was met with curiosity, especially since he was involved in a nightclub shooting in 1999, further escalating the buzz surrounding him. The 16-track album fared fairly well, going gold off the strength of tracks like "Bonnie & Shyne," "Bad Boyz," and "That's Gangsta." However, Shyne was convicted in March 2001 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released from prison in 2009, and has since formally converted to Orthodox Judaism, releasing several mixtapes along the way. Currently, he lives in his native Belize, where he was deported after prison and his father is the Prime Minister. There, he serves as the country's music ambassador and provides infrastructural support to musicians.
“I’m just trying to develop and discover the next generations of musicians in Belize," he said in an interview with Red Bull Radio's The Federation of Sound in May 2018.
2000: Bow Wow's debut, Beware of the Dog, arrives
Lil' Bow Wow made his music debut in 2000 with his album, Beware of the Dog. Propelled by the lead single, "Bounce With Me" featuring So So Def labelmates Xscape, the track was also featured on the soundtrack for Martin Lawrence's hit movie, Big Momma's House. The album was eventually certified double platinum, helping to launch the then-13-year-old to stardom. “I wanted to go back to what molded me into who I am now, and that was working with Jermaine [Dupri]” Bow Wow said back in 2005, while he was promoting his album, Wanted, alluding to his days working on Beware of the Dog. “We got our old formula back.”
2002: Jennifer Lopez reminds us that she's still "Jenny From the Block"
"Jenny From the Block" was Jennifer Lopez's way of telling her fans that, for all her fame, she was the same girl from the Bronx that she'd always been. Featuring Styles P and Jadakiss, it was released as the lead single from her album, This Is Me... Then. The song hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, just in time for the media frenzy surrounding her relationship with Ben Affleck. The video prominently features Affleck, their struggles with the paparazzi and Ben rubbing on J. Lo's booty.
2006: Ludacris drops Release Therapy
Ludacris continued his '00s streak with his sixth album in almost as many years, 2006's Release Therapy. The 14-track album was all over the place, featuring a bevy of producers and guest appearances, including work from Young Jeezy, DJ Toomp, Pimp C, Pharrell, and his Disturbing Tha Peace signees, Field Mob. The album sold 1.5 million copies, pushed by the singles, "Money Maker," "Grew Up a Screw Up" featuring Young Jeezy (which dispelled rumors of a beef), and Cris' corny, yet heartfelt stab at being socially-conscious, "Runaway Love" featuring Mary J. Blige.
"I’m one of those people that believe everything happens for a reason," the rapper/actor/executive told Noisey in 2015. "I wouldn’t change anything ‘cause it almost made me into the person I am today. So I am extremely happy with the musical legacy, I couldn’t ask for much more."
Cindy Herron of En Vogue, Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men and Serena Williams are born.
On Sept. 26, 1965, Cindy Herron of super R&B group, En Vogue was born. En Vogue made a splash in the '90s with the success of their debut album, Born to Sing. The group went on to become one of the most successful girl groups of all-time. Boyz II Men member, Shawn Stockman was born on this day in 1972. Known for their heartfelt ballads and top-notch harmonies, the Philadelphia boy band garnered worldwide success in the '90s, shattering records and earning a spot as one of the most successful groups in history. Serena Williams was born in Compton, Calif on Sept. 26, 1981. Widely considered to be the best athlete in the world, Williams revolutionized tennis, and is a symbol of success and strength for women and girls of color around the world.