Almost 20 years after his passing, Tupac’s influence is still as palpable today as it was when the passionate, charismatic and fiery wordsmith was alive. And while the hip-hop community hasn’t quite been the same since his untimely death, ‘Pac’s music and art still act as a guiding force for up-and-coming lyricists as well as the more seasoned emcees of the game.

For the second installment of Paper magazine’s Nowstalgia segment, the outlet taps Detroit’s finest, Eminem to speak openly and honestly about the influence Tupac had on him as a teen and as artist. Eminem, who is arguably one of hip-hop’s greatest, recalled the first time he heard ‘Pac and the massive impact it had on him, way before signing with Dr. Dre.

“The first time I ever heard Tupac was his verse on “I Get Around” with Digital Underground. I was 18 or 19 years old and I remember thinking, “Who is this?” He stood out so much. Once I heard that, I got his first album, 2Pacalypse Now. I saw the video for “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and I remember thinking, “Holy shit.”

The Academy Award winner said growing up he studied rap pioneers such as Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Rakim, NWA and Public Enemy, but it was something about Tupac that helped Marshall become the rap giant he is today.

“Tupac was the first one to really help me learn how to make songs that felt like something,” he said.

Eminem also praised ‘Pac for his intelligence and being in awe of Tupac’s ability to hold his own in interviews with reporters.

“I used to be fascinated with his interviews like, “Yo, what he’s saying is so true.” He would also be able to trump people who were interviewing him when they would hit him with hard questions — it was incredible. He was a superstar in every aspect of the word. You just wanted to know that guy. Like man, I wanna hang out with Pac.”

Em closes out his letter by giving credit where credits due and says Tupac’s uncanny ability to make people feel anything wasn’t done by happenstance.

“He was just so good at evoking emotions through songs and I picked up so much from that. Biggie had that as well. It was that same kind of thing… he was so good at putting the right words and music together. I would have a hard time believing that they didn’t know what they were doing when they were putting certain words on certain chords of the beat. I would have a hard time believing that it was all accidental. It was true genius.”
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