Changes by Tupac

I see no changes

Changes is a song from Tupac Shakur, who is, arguably, one of the greatest rappers of all times. Changes was originally recorded in 1992, and was later re-mixed in 1998 after Tupac’s death  in 1996, as part of the album Greatest Hits. The song is one of his major successes and reached the top positions in the charts of several countries, including The Netherlands, Norway, UK and US, among others.

Like many of Tupac’s songs, Changes also bears a message that calls for justice. With impressive verses and great rhythm, the song represents various challenges and injustices that African-Americans have to endure on a daily basis.

In the beginning of the song, Tupac says “I see no changes”. This is believed to refer to the Civil Rights Movement that occurred in the 50’s and 60’s in the US and which was expected to foster equality and social justice and alleviate poverty and racism. However, many problems that affected the African-American population in the country, prior to the Movement, were still visible when he recorded the song twenty-four years ago.

Throughout Changes, Tupac highlights the main issues faced by African-Americans and mentions the fact that many issues are related to each other. For instance, he links the color of his skin with poverty – “I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black”. In turn, he shows how poverty causes crime – “My stomach hurts, so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch.” Lastly, he explains how police violence is a racial issue – “Cops give a damn about a negro? Pull the trigger, kill a nigga, he’s a hero.” He continues by saying that unity among the African-American people could be a possible solution to improve the situation – “I got love for my brother, but we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other. We gotta start makin’ changes.” However, he also recognizes that personal interest is a major impediment for things to get to change – “Try to show another way, but they stayin’ in the dope game.

Ultimately, what Tupac attempts to demonstrate with Changes, is the complexity of social issues and how hard it is for things to get better and for equality and justice to be achieved. It is not an endeavor that can be done by one person, but by a collective fight and persistence.

Tupac died twenty years ago and this song, some might think, is not representative of contemporary issues but rather a reflection of past events. Time has, indeed, passed, however, not enough has changed for a song like this one to be put aside.

Racial discrimination is still striking in the US. For instance, there is three times more chances for the Police to kill an African-American than a White American. Additionally, African-Americans are still the ones who, disproportionately, suffer from poverty and hunger. Changes should be a reminder that the Civil Rights Movements may have ended, but the fight for equality is not over. There is still a long way to go and many struggles that have to be fought for Changes to be part of history rather than part of reality.

Lyrics:

Come on come on
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
Is life worth living should I blast myself?
I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black
My stomach hurts so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger kill a nigga he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
One less hungry mouth on the welfare
First ship ’em dope and let ’em deal the brothers
Give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other
It’s time to fight back that’s what Huey said
Two shots in the dark now Huey’s dead
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
Unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin’ changes
Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers
And that’s how it’s supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?
I’d love to go back to when we played as kids
But things changed, and that’s the way it is

That’s just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That’s just the way it is
Aww yeah

That’s just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That’s just the way it is
Aww yeah

I see no changes all I see is racist faces
Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
One better place, let’s erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they’ll be acting right
‘Cause both black and white is smokin’ crack tonight
And only time we chill is when we kill each other
It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President, uhh
It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact
The penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks
But some things will never change
Try to show another way but you stayin’ in the dope game
Now tell me what’s a mother to do
Bein’ real don’t appeal to the brother in you
You gotta operate the easy way
“I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way
Sellin’ crack to the kid. ” I gotta get paid,”
Well hey, well that’s the way it is

That’s just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That’s just the way it is
Aww yeah

That’s just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That’s just the way it is
Aww yeah

We gotta make a change
It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.
Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live
And let’s change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us to do
What we gotta do, to survive.

And still I see no changes can’t a brother get a little peace
It’s war on the streets and the war in the Middle East
Instead of war on poverty they got a war on drugs
So the police can bother me
And I ain’t never did a crime I ain’t have to do
But now I’m back with the blacks givin’ it back to you
Don’t let ’em jack you up, back you up,
Crack you up and pimp smack you up
You gotta learn to hold ya own
They get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone
But tell the cops they can’t touch this
I don’t trust this when they try to rush I bust this
That’s the sound of my tool you say it ain’t cool
My mama didn’t raise no fool
And as long as I stay black I gotta stay strapped
And I never get to lay back
‘Cause I always got to worry ’bout the pay backs
Some buck that I roughed up way back
Comin’ back after all these years
Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat that’s the way it is uhh

That’s just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That’s just the way it is
Aww yeah

That’s just the way it is
Things will never be the same
That’s just the way it is
Aww yeah

Some things will never change

Changes by Tupac
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Sounds from the Bucket
Silvie Vale

Passionate about LGBT issues and human rights, Silvie Vale has recently graduated in Development and International Relations from Aalborg University, Denmark. She is specialized in Global Gender Studies and is particularly interested in creating awareness about matters of social justice. She loves travelling, researching and learning new things.
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