Throughout my 21 years, I’ve made many friends and lost most of them. In fact, only three true ones stuck around. The loss of some friendships hurt me far more than others. Some ended simply because we grew apart while others ended in betrayal. If I see certain former friends on the street, I might be compelled to say ‘hi’ while others make me want to use a one finger obscenity. Tupac definitely had his fair share of friendships gone awry. There were many people in his life that he trusted and cared for that ended up harming him. It is the evil inflicted by the people closest to you that hurts the most and I Ain’t Mad At Cha expresses this most appropriately. Even though we learn to forgive, we never forget and the smallest ounce of bitter feeling always seems to linger.
I guess change is good for any of us
Whatever it take for any of y’all n*ggas to get up out the hood
Sh*t, I’m wit cha, I ain’t mad at cha
Got nuttin’ but love for ya, do your thing boy
Yeah, all the homies that I ain’t talk to in a while
I’ma send this one out for y’all, know what I mean?
‘Cause I ain’t mad at cha
Heard y’all tearin’ up sh*t out there, kickin’ up dust
Givin’ a motherf*cker (laughter)
‘Cause I ain’t mad at cha
The spoken word portion at the beginning of the song basically introduces the subject matter and sets the tone for what the lyrics will discuss. Tupac is specifically addressing all his former friends, in which their friendships have gone sour. He wants them to know that he feels no animosity towards them. But of course, there is an undertone of resentment and hurt that can be identified in his words.
Now we was once two n*ggas of the same kind
Quick to holler at a hoochie with the same line
You was just a little smaller but you still roller
Got stretched to Y.A. and hit the hood swoll
Member when you had a jheri curl didn’t quite learn
On the block, with your glock, trippin’ off sherm
Collect calls to the till, sayin’ how you changed
Oh you a Muslim now? No more dope game
Heard you might be comin’ home, just got bail
Want to go to the Mosque, don’t want to chase tail
I seems I lost my little homie he’s a changed man
Tupac starts the song of describing how his friendship with a friend who was evidently very close to him changed drastically. Evidently they did many things together that weren’t always productive or conducive to their well being. Case in point, his friend gets locked up and is released from prison. He finds religion and now prefers more spiritual pursuits rather than hanging with his friends. Ultimately, the two friends are now on different wavelengths when it comes to what they want from life.
Hit the pen and now no sinnin’ is the game plan
When I talk about money all you see is the struggle
When I tell you I’m livin’ large you tell me it’s trouble
Congratulation on the weddin’, I hope your wife know
She got a playa for life, and that’s no bullsh*tin’
Tupac ends up making a change in his life too, however his involves hip hop music instead of religion. He hopes to capitalize off his talents, but his friend seems to believe in the age old saying that ‘money is the root of all evil.’ His friend disapproves of his financially well endowed lifestyle however, in turn Tupac disapproves of his friend’s life choices. He claims that even though his friend is now married, in his heart of hearts he is still a player and will never truly change.
I know we grew apart, you probably don’t remember
I used to fiend for your sister, but never went up in her
And I can see us after school, we’d bomb
on the first motherf*cker with the wrong shit on
In reminiscing about their friendship, Tupac reminds his friend of his loyalty. He had a crush on homie’s sister, but out of respect never put the moves on her. Tupac also had his friend’s back during pranks they’d pull together.
Now the whole sh*t’s changed, and we don’t even kick it
Got a big money scheme, and you ain’t even with it
Hmm, knew in my heart you was the same motherf*cker bad
Go toe to toe when it’s time for roll you got a brother’s back
And I can’t even trip, cause I’m just laughin’ at cha
You tryin’ hard to maintain, then go head
cause I ain’t mad at cha
The disloyality that Tupac is experiencing ends up dissolving the friendship. They now find themselves feuding and no longer care to have one another’s back. Although Tupac claims that he’s laughing at his friend, I know its a melancholy laughter. It’s more so a reaction to how funny life can be with all its changes.
We used to be like distant cousins, fightin’, playin’ dozens
Whole neighborhood buzzin’, knowin’, that we wasn’t
This next verse introduces a relationship Tupac had with a girl. They roughhoused and were tight like family but everyone in the neighborhood seemed to know that they had more than just a platonic relationship going between them.
Used to catch us on the roof or behind the stairs
I’m gettin’ blitzed and I reminsce on all the times we shared
Besides bumpin’ n’ grindin’ wasn’t nothin’ on our mind
In time we learned to live a life of crime
I can definitely relate to being young and in love and not having a place to go hook up. So Tupac and his girl resort to places like rooftops (which is actually kind of romantic) and staircases (not so romantic). As he elevates himself on some herb, he observes how all they could think about was getting it on. And I mean, in the beginning stages of love when you’re completely addicted to the person, you can’t keep your hands off them anyway. It was this intense romance that promoted them both to embark on a life of crime together, kind of like Bonnie and Clyde.
Rewind us back, to a time was much too young to know
I caught a felony lovin’ the way the guns blow
And even though we seperated, you said that you’d wait
Don’t give nobody no coochie while I be locked up state
A lot of times, young people think they’re invincible, which was the case with Tupac. Unfortunately, he got caught for committing a crime and sent to prison. His girl promised that she would remain truthful to him until he returns. I suspect he may have been referring to ex-wife Keisha Morris.
I kiss my Mama goodbye, and wipe the tears from her lonely eyes
Said I’ll return but I gotta fight the fate’s arrived
Don’t shed a tear, cause Mama I ain’t happy here
I’m through trial, no more smiles, for a couple years
They got me goin’ mad, I’m knockin’ busters on they backs
in my cell, thinkin,’ “Hell, I know one day I’ll be back”
His experience in prison is a painful and difficult one and it leaves his mother distraught. He finally comes to the realization of the consequences he must endure for his actions, but knowing that he’ll be back one day seems to be helping him get through.
As soon as I touch down
I told my girl I’ll be there, so prepare, to get f*cked down
The homies wanna kick it, but I’m just laughin’ at cha
Cause you’s a down ass *itch, and I ain’t mad at cha
I always found the next few bars to be a little confusing. Did she cheat? He gives no verbal reference to this however itsimplied. Furthermore, the tone of the song is him letting go of anger towards those who hurt him however he says she was down for him so I don’t really know…
Well guess who’s movin’ up, this n*gga’s ballin’ now
B*tches be callin’ to get it, hookers keep fallin’ down
He went from nuttin’ to lots, ten carots to rock
Went from a nobody n*gga to the big, man on the block
I always theoreticized that the final verse was about Biggie. Tupac paints a picture of a lavish party, or perhaps a room full of debauchery and goes on to say how his friend had nothing and is now surrounded by all this wealth. Even though “big man on the block,” is a metaphorical statement, perhaps big does in fact refer to Biggie’s size.
He’s Mister local celebrity, addicted to move a key
Most hated by enemy, escape in the Luxury
See, first you was our n*gga but you made it, so the choice is made
Now we gotta slay you why you faded, in the younger days
So full of pain while the weapons blaze
The friend that he talks about appeared to be a loved figure in the community before becoming successful. Now, his new found famous has changed him and earned him some enemies.
Gettin’ so high off that bomb hopin’ we make it, to the better days
Cause crime pays, and in time, you’ll find a rhyme’ll blaze
You’ll feel the fire from the n*ggas in my younger days
Basically, the pen is mightier than the sword. Tupac warns his friend that his reckless use of offensive words will result in violence.
So many changed on me, so many tried to plot
That I keep a glock beside my head, when will it stop?
Til’ God return me to my Essence
Tupac fears that everyone has slowly turned on him. He keeps a piece close to him, sometimes turning on himself because he is so miserable with the way things have turned out. His thoughts run rampant and he contemplates how he’ll die.
Cause even as a adolescent, I refuse to be a convalescent
So many questions, and they ask me if I’m still down
I moved up out of the ghetto, so I ain’t real now?
They got so much to say, but I’m just laughin’ at cha
You n*ggas just don’t know, but I ain’t mad at cha
Stating that ever since he was a young person, he refused to play the victim, he is now angered by the fact that people are questioning his success. Clearly he worked hard, sacrificed and endured many obstacles. So for them to have the audacity to question his realness is very insulting to him. He finishes off by restating that he isn’t angry and no longer wishes to dwell on these unfortunate circumstances.