The cover art for Tupac’s ‘Me Against the World’; Photo: Interscope

Incarcerated for sexually assaulting a fan in November of 1993, this day in March of 1994 saw the drop of Tupac‘s third album, Me Against the World, that would go on to become the first number one record on the Billboard 200 from an artist behind bars.

An about-face for the hip-hop icon, in which he took his writing inwardly cathartic and haunting, speaking volumes of economic and racial divides in America, its first and most popular single, “Dear Mama,” notched its way into the Library of Congress’ national recording registry.

Wherever you stand on the moral dimensions in which Tupac navigated to become who he was, there’s no denying the socio-mirror qualities of a genius street confessional like so — an homage to the struggles of his crack-smoking, single, welfare-toting mother laced with an allegory of what it takes to be creative from the trenches of poverty:

I reminisce on the stress I caused, it was hell
Huggin’ on my mama from a jail cell!
And who’d think in elementary?
Hey! I see the penitentiary one day
And running from the police, that’s right
Mama catch me, put a whoopin’ to my backside
And even as a crack fiend, mama
You always was a black queen, mama
I finally understand
For a woman it ain’t easy trying to raise a man
You always was committed
A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how you did it
There’s no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated