Number 646 - 2Pac
I saw a documentry a few years ago about 2Pac, Biggie, Dre, Snoop Dogg and others about how he died and the "lifestyle" the rappers led. Now i am no fragging authority on East Coast vs West Coast shit, only thing i've ever had to deal with is South Auckland vs the Westies? Nah, Sth Auckland vs the North Shore? erm,nope and East is like Little Trouble in Big China. That leaves Sth Auckland vs Sth Auckland and thats about right dawg. Doesn't matter what city you live in the world, Tupac has an affect on most of the youth anywhere regardless. They say 2Pac is the greatest Rap artist ever and with 75 million albums sold, who am i to argue? Its like i don't need a bullet between my eyes thanks. (People will tell you i have enough holes in me head to deal with as it is)
16.06.71 to 13.09.96
Maybe it was his time in prison, or maybe it was simply his signing with Suge Knight's Death Row label. Whatever the case, 2Pac re-emerged hardened and hungry with All Eyez on Me, the first double-disc album of original material in hip-hop history. With all the controversy surrounding him, 2Pac seemingly wanted to throw down a monumental epic whose sheer scope would make it an achievement of itself. But more than that, it's also an unabashed embrace of the gangsta lifestyle, backing off the sober self-recognition of Me Against the World. Sure, there are a few reflective numbers and dead-homiez tributes, but they're much more romanticized this time around. All Eyez on Me is 2Pac the thug icon in all his brazen excess, throwing off all self-control and letting it all hang out -- even if some of it would have been better kept to himself.
In that sense, it's an accurate depiction of what made him such a volatile and compelling personality, despite some undeniable filler. On the plus side, this is easily the best production he's ever had on record, handled mostly by Johnny J (notably on the smash "How Do U Want It") and Dat Nigga Daz; Dr. Dre also contributes another surefire single in "California Love" (which, unfortunately, is present only as a remix, not the original hit version). Both hits are on the front-loaded first disc, which would be a gangsta classic in itself; other highlights include the anthemic Snoop Dogg duet "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted," "All About U" (with the required Nate Dogg-sung hook), and "I Ain't Mad at Cha," a tribute to old friends who've gotten off the streets. Despite some good moments, the second disc is slowed by filler and countless guest appearances, plus a few too many thug-lovin' divas crooning their loyalty. Erratic though it may be, All Eyez on Me is nonetheless carried off with the assurance of a legend in his own time, and it stands as 2Pac's magnum opus ~ Steve Huey
What does Rolling Stone say about 2Pac?
Only god can judge me/Nobody else/All you other mother-fuckers, get out of my business," 2Pac declared defiantly on All Eyez on Me just a few months before he was perforated by a hail of bullets in Las Vegas and God actually got the chance. On record, 2Pac went out with flair; All Eyez is an epic expression of single-minded, narcissistic bravado, stretched out over loping beats and top-shelf samples (Kool and the Gang, Zapp, Guy), and delivered by 2Pac with gritty, cock-strut authority. It's like a Cali thug-life version of Pink Floyd's The Wall – pure gangsta ego run amok over two CDs, wounded pride on a nonstop vengeance kick. Except that at that length, the album's all-hard-all-the-time tone approaches caricature. Even a momentary jolt of believable poignance and humility like "Dear Mama," on 1995's Me Against the World, would have added some depth of character, a hint of the man behind the tall talk and the prison record. Now it's down to the eerily prophetic resonance of "Check Out Time" and "Picture Me Rollin'."
Better that than the coldhearted bumpin' and ill timing of the Makaveli album, recorded by 2Pac under an alias inspired by the authoritarian writings of the 16th-century player Niccolò Machiavelli. The tracks are fat with funky menace (the upfront bass in "Life of an Outlaw" smells of Bootsy Collins-meets-Robbie Shakespeare), and the choral-vocal effect in many of the raps has a street-corner, pass-the-bottle charge. Alas, the record – issued just two months after 2Pac's murder – merely perpetuates Los Angeles hip-hop gangland stereotypes, in particular the East Coast/West Coast feud that has gone beyond pointless all the way to deadly. At the start of the record, against the backdrop of church bells and shotgun blasts, a voice insists, "It's not about East or West, it's about niggers and bitches, power and money, riders and punks. Which side are you on?" The one that says peace, common sense and no more blood.(RS 750/751)DAVID FRICKE