"I Ain't Mad at Cha" is the name of a song by rapper 2Pac released as the fourth single from his album All Eyez on Me. The song is a heartfelt tribute to his friends he knew before he was famous. The song features contemporary African American soul singer Danny Boy who provided the vocals for the song's hook. The song did well in the United Kingdom, reaching the top 15 on the UK Singles Chart. Although a popular song in the United States, it was never released as a single in the United States, and at the time such songs were unable to make the top 100 in the U.S. (Billboard changed the rules in December 1998 to allow such songs to chart). The track was produced by Dat Nigga Daz (who now goes by Daz Dillinger) and samples the song "A Dream" by DeBarge. The song was recorded the same day 2Pac was released from prison, and was the second song he recorded when he came out ("Ambitionz Az a Ridah" being the first). The single was released two days after 2Pac's death. As so, by the time this single was released, 2Pac already finished recording his next album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. It has been labeled by many one of the best songs on "All Eyez on Me and one of the greatest in 2Pac's career.
The song also appeared on 2Pac's Greatest Hits album and a remixed version appeared on Nu-Mixx Klazzics. Another song on the CD single proved to be popular among fans. "Heartz of Men" appeared on 4 of 2Pac's albums, compared to 3 for I Ain't Mad at Cha. These include: All Eyez on Me, 2Pac Live, 2Pac's Greatest Hits, and a remixed version on Nu-Mixx Klazzics. A remix was made of Rihanna's We Ride to include elements of I Ain't Mad at Cha. R&B group BLACKstreet also used the identical keyboard tune in "Don't Leave Me" off of their Another Level album. "American Dream," a track featured on deceased rapper Big L's cd In Memory of Big L, Vol.2 samples the I Ain't Mad at Cha track.
The first verse speaks about how he lost touch with his friend, who converted to Islam, and the difference in lifestyles they chose to live:
"Now the whole shit's changed, and we don't even kick it
Got a big money scheme, and you ain't even with it
Hmm, knew in my heart you was the same motherfucker bad
Go toe to toe when it's time for roll you got a brother's back
And I can't even trip, cause I'm just laughin at cha
You tryin hard to maintain, then go head cause I ain't mad at cha"
The second verse speaks about 2Pac being sentenced to prison. He mentions his old girlfriend and tries to comfort his mother.
"And even though we separated, you said that you'd wait
Don't give nobody no coochie while I be locked up state
I kiss my Mama goodbye, and wipe the tears from her lonely eyes
Said I'll return but I gotta fight the fate's arrived
Don't shed a tear, cause Mama I ain't happy here
I'm through trial, no more smiles, for a couple years"
In the third verse, 2Pac raps about how his life has changed from being in the ghetto to being a celebrity. He talks about his connection to the hood and how his old associates think negatively of him now.
"So many questions, and they ask me if I'm still down
I moved up out of the ghetto, so I ain't real now?
They got so much to say, but I'm just laughin at cha
You niggaz just don't know, but I ain't mad at cha"
I Ain't Mad at Cha samples heavily from the song "A Dream" by DeBarge, written and performed by Bunny, taken from their 1983 album In a Special Way. This makes the instrumentals very identical. This is most apparent in the piano usage which is almost identical to the original song. The main difference is "A Dream" uses a keyboard for its notes, while "I Ain't Mad at Cha" uses more of a classical piano. Daz's main job as producer of the song was changing this piano instrument, as most other aspects of the song were the same. The tempo of the original song was also sped up, which matches with 2Pac's pace of rapping. Another minor difference is the accompanying beat uses different sounds to project the same repetition (sped up as previously noted). When 2Pac entered the studio the beat was already complete, and 2Pac wrote the lyrics and recorded the song all in a few hours.
Like many rap songs the single had many explicit lyrics and was too profane to be shown on TV. Rather than have them blanked out, most these lines carried alternative words. For example:
Original lyrics: And I can see us after school, we'd bomb / on the first motherfucker with the wrong shit on
Alternative lyrics: And I can see us after school, we'd bomb / on the first player haters with the wrong set on.
The music video begins with 2Pac and a friend of his (played by Bokeem Woodbine) leaving a hotel party at night time. While waiting for someone to arrive a hooded man comes up, pulls out a handgun, and starts shooting in their direction. As 2Pac pushes them out of the way, he gets hit by at least one bullet. In the ambulance his body gives in and he passes away. As an angel he goes back to Earth and watches his friend as he struggles through the next days away from his friend. While this is going on 2Pac is shown rapping to his friend, (who can't see or hear him) and at an elegant party in Heaven. Danny Boy is also present in Heaven as an angel.
In the music video version, the third verse of the song is completely replaced with new lyrics which talk about the struggles of living, God, and life after death. The video ends with the words "Dedicated to Mutulu Shakur and Geronimo Pratt" appearing on the screen. These individuals are 2Pac's stepfather and godfather, respectively. This was the last music video 2Pac ever filmed before his death. The music video was voted #33 on the "MTV Top 100 of 1996" ranking music videos. The concept of the video (showing 2Pac's death and him being on Earth as an angel) was used as evidence by many who believed in the 7 Day Theory that Tupac is still alive. The music video is available on the DVD edition of Tupac: Live at the House of Blues. KAMIL
We knew when that was done, it was over. Oh yeah, 'Pac heard the beat and flipped out. And basically he was just like, "Man, this is it." We sat and we drank and then Daz was just operating on the record, and when 'Pac was in there working, he wasn't with the distractions. It was more or less all, "Let's knock this out, let's knock this out, let's knock this out." I mean, he'd get mad at the engineers for moving too slow. That was his thing. He'd be on top of them like that. You know, "Come on, man, what the fuck? This ain't too God damn hard. All you have to do is press fuckin' 'record,' press fuckin' 'record.' Now!"-Kurupt
The day he got out of jail, he didn't go to the clubs. He didn't go try to meet women. He went straight to the studio like he was on a mission, and he recorded "Ambitionz Az A Ridah" and "I Ain't Mad At Cha." Tupac came in, and he was fresh out of jail. I seen them give him his Death Row medallion that same night. And then he came right in. He was ready to go. He was very hyped, very focused, a lot of energy - mad energy. And you could tell he was really on a mission. He really had a real vision of what was going on, and he wanted to get a lot done in that short amount of time.-Dave Aron