Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Retro Videos of the Week: "Balls to the Wall" by Accept and "Changes" by 2Pac

There are two significant events this week.  First, yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Tupac Shakur's death (or alleged death, depending on whether you believe the lamestream media).  Second, Friday, I'm leaving on a jet plane to go to Denmark and Germany for a little over a week, culminating in my fourth trip to Oktoberfest.  With these two monumental events, I couldn't live with myself if I only gave you guys one Retro Video of the Week.  After all, this will likely be the last post until I return, presumably ten pounds heavier, severely bloated, and with a big smile on my face.

The first video is "Balls to the Wall" by German metal band Accept.  This song is appropriate not only because Accept is German, but also because "balls to the wall" is an accurate description of the drinking and fun that goes on at Oktoberfest.  "Balls to the Wall" is Accept's most-recognizable song, and the video is a pretty good early '80s metal video, with the guitarists sporting the twin Flying Vs and everyone looking the metal part with long hair and black leather.  And then there's lead singer Udo Dirkschneider, who looks like a blond, camouflaged, German version of Patton Oswalt, but with a better metal shriek.

The second video is 2Pac's "Changes."  It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since Tupac was murdered.  I was a freshman in college, and it seemed like 2Pac's All Eyez On Me and Me Against The World albums were standard issue.  If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that 84.6% of male dorm rooms at Indiana University during the 1996-1997 school year had at least one of those two albums.  

To this day, 2Pac remains one of my favorite hip hop artists.  Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. was one of the first five CDs I ever purchased.  There was something different about him and his music.  He was a unique talent, and it's a damn shame that he had to go and fake his own death so that he could live on a private island with Jim Morrison and Elvis, but then again, I would do that too if it meant never having to be in the same room as Suge Knight again.  Of course, the fake death rumors have only been fueled by the fact that more and more 2Pac music kept getting released after his death, and that some of his songs seemed to foreshadow, if not predict, his own demise.  

One of those songs was "Changes," a heartfelt, catchy, and brilliant song set to the backdrop of Bruce Hornsby & The Range's "The Way It Is."  While it was originally recorded in 1992, it wasn't released at the time, and it was later remixed and then released in 1998, when it became 2Pac's sixth Top 40 hit on the Billboard charts, reaching #32 over two years after his death.  When the song and accompanying video were released, 2Pac's death was still pretty fresh, and the song reminded everyone that behind all of the chest puffing, "thug life" tattoo, and "Hit 'Em Up," there was a compassionate and intelligent man who understood the struggles of black Americans and wasn't afraid to sing about them.  "Changes" touches on racism, police brutality, gangs, welfare, drugs, and poverty.  The first couple lines of the second verse -- "I see no changes / All I see are racist faces / Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races we under -- have always stuck with me as being particularly poignant.  In the end, though, I don't think the song is pessimistic, but rather a realistic depiction of the racial problems in America, with a plea for everyone to try to understand each other and work out differences and social issues peacefully.  Frankly, given the rhetoric in this country in recent years, the song is just as relevant today as it was when it was written and when it was released.  

And while I haven't done any research to back this up, I am relatively confident that this is the first blog post to feature both an Accept video and a 2Pac video, proving that we can all get along if we just try.  Prost and West Side 'Til I Die!

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