Twenty-four years ago, Death Row Records made history with the release of 2Pac Shakur’s “California Love.” As with everything, the context surrounding the single’s release is of utmost importance. Prior to his signing with Suge Knight’s legendary label, Pac was serving a nine-month prison stint for sexual assault. Despite his crime, many were eagerly anticipating his return to making music, especially after Suge Knight shouted him out during the infamous 1995 Source Awards. Upon his release, Pac inked a deal and hit the studio with Dr. Dre, who laid the foundation for one of the most defining cultural anthems in West Coast history.
To this day, “California Love” still stands triumphant, a song that brings all walks of life together. Even those unfamiliar with the nuances of hip-hop history can appreciate the bombastic production, the vocoder work from the masterful Roger Troutman, and the unapologetically G-Funk vibe. The song’s legacy speaks for itself, a reminder that 2Pac’s GOAT credentials did not come unearned. Now, twenty-four years later, Pac and Dre’s masterpiece has endured as an integral piece of the canon. Happy anniversary!