Today is June 16, 2015, which means it would have been 2Pac’s 44th birthday. Instead, the rapper was gunned down in Las Vegas in September of 1996 in a murder that remains unsolved. Though he lived only 25 years, Pac made irreversible impacts on hip-hop and pop culture at large, taking up social and political causes even while he was behind bars at the height of his fame. Jhene Aiko has teamed up with MTV to pay tribute to the man with a photo shoot that mimics some of Pac’s most recognizable images, like the above, the cover of his 1996 double album All Eyez on Me. In a sit-down with the music giant, Aiko recalls leaving a free clinic while pregnant with her first child, and heard “Keep Ya Head Up”: ”[T]hat song came on and that’s what changed the whole mood of my pregnancy.”
That song is taken from Pac’s sophomore album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z…, which was released in 1993, just as he was coming into his own as a national star. From there, his focus turned inward, and his work became less overtly political. All Eyez was preceded by 1995′s critical darling Me Against the World and followed by The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, released posthumously in November of 1996.
Check out two more photos from the shoot below; the latter, of course, recreates the cover of the legendary rapper’s double-disc greatest hits compilation.
If that’s not enough, watch and listen as Aiko covers Pac’s classic “Keep Ya Head Up.”