Almost exactly eleven years after its posthumous release, legendary rapper Tupac Shakur’s 1998 hit “Changes” has been selected by the Vatican as one of the institution’s “12 Favorite Songs” as part of a playlist for MySpace’s new streaming service MySpace Music.
The distinction is the first time the Catholic Church has officially recognized the work of any popular American artist. With it, the song joins the ranks of works such as “Don Giovanni” by Mozart, the Vatican’s own “Advocata Nostra,” featuring the voice of Pope Benedict XVI, and “After The Rain,” by Dame Shirley Bassey.
“The genres are very different from each other, but all these artists share the aim to reach the heart of good minded people,” the Vatican explained on its official MySpace Music page.
The playlist, compiled by Father Giulio Neroni, was released Thursday, December 3 – and “Changes” has received nearly five million plays since then.
“This came as such an amazing surprise – it’s not something I would have ever thought possible,” says the late rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur. “I give thanks every day, knowing Tupac’s words and music continue to have such an incredible effect on people worldwide. My son was always striving to reach out to as many people as he could, and he changed the world in doing so.”
Released two years after the rapper’s death in 1998, “Changes” has been acknowledged as one of Tupac’s all-time classics ever since, with a message that resonates just as strongly today. The song is a streetwise meditation on racism, the Middle East, drugs and gang violence coupled with a call for hope and peace. In essence, it highlights the need for change on both a personal and global level.
“Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, let’s change the way we treat each other,” states Tupac on the track. “You see, the old way wasn’t working, so it’s on us to do what we gotta do to survive.”
The acclaimed single climbed to the top of the charts upon its release and became the only posthumously released Hip-Hop song to receive the Grammy nomination for “Best Rap Solo Performance.” It recently confirmed its lasting power when it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Ringtones Chart (November 7, 2009), a spot it held for a whopping 34 weeks.
“It’s a testament to Tupac’s genius that his music can have this kind of impact more than ten years after the fact,” says Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine. “This is an unprecedented honor to his legacy, as well as for those who had the privilege of working with him during his lifetime.”
In additional Tupac news, it was announced in September that the artist’s private writings would be added to Atlanta University Center’s Robert Woodruff Library – an institution that also houses Martin Luther King’s papers – to be made available for scholarly research.
The collection features Shakur’s handwritten lyrics and track listings, personal notes, video and film concepts, fan correspondence, promotion materials and other items providing a unique insight into his creative genius.
Peep the video for “Changes.”