“I Ain’t Mad at Cha” by 2Pac (ft. Danny Boy Steward)

Tupac Shakur (2Pac) was a rapper who stuck faithfully to the hardcore street thug theme while simultaneously portraying himself as an emotionally-fragile human being. And both of those personas are on full display in “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”.

First off it should be noted that the title is actually a colloquial way of saying ‘I ain’t mad at you’. Thus throughout the song, the narrator is interacting with people who he either has issues with or have something against him. And  in each of the verse’s 2Pac is actually speaking to a different addressee(s). But for the most part, this track is based on the concept of individuals ‘changing’ for the specific goal of “get(ting) up out of the ‘hood”, as in the sacrifices they make to overcome life in the ghetto.

First Verse

So in the first verse he is rapping to a person who can be described as his BFF. They spent a considerable amount of time together in their youth, like brothers, mainly doing naughty things. But now, in the wake of being incarcerated, this person has decided to convert to Islam. And part of that commitment requires him giving up life on the streets and logically his relationship with the vocalist also. And this sudden disassociation understandably has Pac offended. But at the end of the day he “ain’t mad at” his former buddy and instead respects his effort to live a more-righteous life.

Second Verse

Meanwhile the second verse is based on someone whom the rapper had a relationship with similar to the person in the first verse. However, this time around it is a female, and at some point they decided to get into a romantic/sensual relationship. And in this particular section it is not particularly clear what beef, if any, Pac has with this individual. But the implication is that perhaps some of his friends tried to sleep with her while Shakur himself was incarcerated, and she acquiesced. 

Or whatever the case may be, she apparently did something questionable while the rapper was away in prison. But all things considered he forgives her in light of she being a friend who has always had his back no matter what.

Third/Final Verse

Then in the last verse, Tupac is addressing the people he left behind in the ‘hood when he himself blew up. Or more specifically, he suffers from a lot of negative criticism via the locals in his hometown. And basically, what they are saying is that he’s no longer “real”, as in true to his roots. Because he became financially successful and sought a better life outside of the neighborhood. And there is also an undertone of them being jealous and envious of his accomplishments. But 2Pac scoffs at the idea that he is no longer authentic because he “moved up out of the ghetto”. And despite such disses obviously impacting him emotionally, ultimately he harbors no ill will towards such critics.


So that is the gist of “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”. Tupac presents three-different personal scenarios in which he was offended by those close to him. But ultimately he has chosen the higher path, if you will, by adopting a forgiving attitude as opposed to one of anger, frustration or vengeance.

Lyrics of "I Ain't Mad at Cha"

Release Date of “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”

“I Ain’t Mad at Cha” was released by the team of Death Row Records and Interscope Records on 15 September 1996. It served as the fourth and final single to be issued from Pac’s classic double-album “All Eyez on Me”. This was actually the last album he dropped during his lifetime.

We all know that Tupac was constantly in trouble. And it is said that he recorded this tune on the selfsame day he was released from prison. This was in October of 1995, after spending eight months locked up on an assault charge.

Indeed another thing 2Pac was known for was his hard-work ethic. And by the time “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” was eventually released, which was a couple of days after he succumbed to gunshot wounds on 13 September 1996, he had already finished recording another album. That particular project, “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” (1996), is also considered to be one of his best works.

Music Video

The music video to “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” is likewise one of the most-memorable of Tupac’s career. And he actually directed it himself along with Devin Swain.

And what made the video extraordinary is that in it Tupac basically foretold his own death. In fact it is themed on him dying and going to heaven where he encounters (the lookalikes of) other deceased celebrities. Some of these celebrities include the following:

  • Louie Armstrong
  • Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Bob Marley

The video also starred a contemporary Hollywood actor, Bokeem Woodbine, alongside Tupac.

Chart Performance of “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”

“I Ain’t Mad at Cha” was not released as a single in the United States. And due to Billboard’s statutes at the time, it was not eligible to make the Hot 100 itself. However, it did appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay.

The song also charted in six other countries, including scoring a number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. In New Zealand, it made it all the way to position number 2.

In fact “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” has been certified Gold in New Zealand.

Sample(s) in “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”

The instrumental of this track relies heavily on a song entitled “A Dream”. “A Dream was dropped by R&B group DeBarge back in 1983.

In fact the main difference between the melody of “A Dream” and that of “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” is that the former uses a keyboard while the latter a classical piano. And for the music video, Tupac actually re-recorded the song though this time using an entire live band.

As such Bunny DeBarge is credited as a co-writer of this song along with Death Row Records’ artists Tupac , Danny Boy Steward and Daz Dillinger.

Moreover Daz, known primarily as being a member of Snoop Dogg’s Dogg Pound, also produced “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”.

And Danny Boy was a regular feature on Tupac tracks, both in the latter part of Pac’s career while he was still alive and many of his posthumous songs.

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