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1 January, 2000@12:00 am
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 Who doesn’t know the name 2Pac? Who wold have imagined back in 1990, when a dancer grabbed the mic and said he clowned around with Digital Underground, would become as big as Elvis. He was the rebel of the group that branched off into a solo career that thrust him into super stardom, with his powerful tracks, roles in movies, outspoken honesty, and run ins with the law. He was both the angel and devil on your shoulder representing extremes on both sides.

In 1995 ‘Pac was locked down, the biggest willie around had the cash to spring him free, provided he sign a crude hand written contract from his lawyer. Tupac went straight from a cell to the recording studio where an astounding 300 or so songs were done in a 2 week period. The first batch of them was the milestone double album All Eyes On Me, that saw tremendous success. After his tragic murder in September of ’96, the battle was on for the rights to his remaining tracks. Somehow or another most were leaked to the street and resulted in Makavelli 1 through 1000, available at corner store bodegas for $5 a pop. In 1999 the thought of his third posthumous release had me thinking all the good stuff was used up by now and what was left was bottom of the barrel. But Still I Rise proves that theory wrong.

Everything you loved about 2pac is here, and the tracks on the album aren’t corny, like some of his other post-death releases. There’s a little something for political fans of Pac’s past, and definitely something for the thugs. The album is more a group project than a solo album as the Outlawz, (forever immortalized on “Hit Em Up”), appear all throughout the 15 tracks. “Letter To The President” is an open letter to our friend who likes getting head in the White House. ‘Pac pleads his case to help to end poverty in the inner city to hopefully make a change. This QD III track fits like a glove and gets the project going in a right directon. Meanwhile, the title track has ‘Pac lashing out against his absent father and the consequence of that absence, hooking you in with the first few lines, showing his gift to make some kind of statement in each song.

Many of the tracks have stale singing hooks, but most are tolerable. The Outlawz possess skills that make most thugs look even more gimmicky. The production is solid throughout, provided by QDIII, longtime collaborator Johnny J {your royalty check’s in the mail} Daz, Fredwreck and Pac himself. “As The World Turns” is just a nice song with its mellow guitar and piano pizazz.

If you miss the hellraiser version of ‘Pac, he resurfaces on “Hell 4 A Hustler”, speaking with ’nuff venom. “Livin’ care free till I’m buried/ And if they dare me/ I’ll bust on them niggaz till they scurry / I’m clearly a man of military means/ and my artillery/ Watchin’ over me through every murder scene.” But in true 2Pac tradition he totally flips the script to show us his good side on “The Good Die Young”. “Who are we to say who live or die/ Breathe or stop/ All this judgement on lives needs to stop.” The battle between good and evil rages on. “Killuminati” could rock a party in the tradition of “I Get Around”, just give it a chickenhead test.

2pac fans should eat up this latest offering. It’s a good album with little flaw, but the oversaturation of ‘Pac imitators made this projects punch more of a strong jab than a KO uppercut. It is still definitely above average for the genre and a reminder to us of just how influential a figure he was. Like he says the good die young.

  Mixtape D.L.
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