2Pac - 2Pacalypse Now (Nov 12, 1991; Interscope)
Few expected former Digital Underground member Tupac Amaru Shakur to become hip-hop enemy number one when he made his solo debut with this 1991 album.
Songs like "Crooked Ass Nigga" and "Tha' Lunatic" might have hinted that storm clouds were on the horizon, but there were also excellent advocacy numbers like "Words of Wisdom" and "Young Black Male." This didn't make him a celebrity, but it put Tupac Shakur on the road to stardom.
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2Pac - Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (Feb 16, 1993; Jive)
Fulfilling much of the promise showcased on 2Pac's debut album a year earlier, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. offers a wealth of thoughtful moments such as "Keep Ya Head Up" yet still makes plenty of room for good-time celebrations such as "I Get Around." These two hits in particular make Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. a noteworthy, if sometimes overlooked, moment amid 2Pac's cluttered catalog. They also represent the two approaches 2Pac initially took with his music, emphasizing his thoughtfulness (another insightful highlight being "Papa'z Song") rather than the thuggishness so often associated with him, particularly in the wake of his death. A few notable West Coast rappers join the festivities here — Ice Cube and Ice-T on "Last Wordz" and Digital Underground on "I Get Around" — but 2Pac unfortunately doesn't have any notable producers to support him, as the dated production stands as the album's only potential drawback. Not quite as remarkable as 2Pac's following two masterpieces, Me Against The Worlds (1995) and All Eyez On Me (1996), Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. nonetheless merits acknowledgement, particularly in relation to the string of posthumously released Makaveli-era recordings littering his catalog.
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2Pac - Me Against the World (Mar 14, 1995; Interscope)
Recorded following his near-fatal shooting in New York, and released while he was in prison, Me Against the World is the point where 2Pac really became a legendary figure. Having stared death in the face and survived, he was a changed man on record, displaying a new confessional bent and a consistent emotional depth. By and large, this isn't the sort of material that made him a gangsta icon; this is 2Pac the soul-baring artist, the foundation of the immense respect he commanded in the hip-hop community. It's his most thematically consistent, least-self-contradicting work, full of genuine reflection about how he's gotten where he is — and dread of the consequences. Even the more combative tracks ("Me Against the World," "Fuck the World") acknowledge the high-risk life he's living, and pause to wonder how things ever went this far. He battles occasional self-loathing, is haunted by the friends he's already lost to violence, and can't escape the desperate paranoia that his own death isn't far in the future. These tracks — most notably "So Many Tears," "Lord Knows," and "Death Around the Corner" — are all the more powerful in hindsight with the chilling knowledge that he was right. Even romance takes on a new meaning as an escape from the hellish pressure of everyday life ("Temptations," "Can U Get Away"), and when that's not available, getting high or drunk is almost a necessity. He longs for the innocence of childhood ("Young Niggaz," "Old School"), and remembers how quickly it disappeared, yet he still pays loving, clear-eyed tribute to his drug-addicted mother on the touching "Dear Mama." Overall, Me Against the World paints a bleak, nihilistic picture, but there's such an honest, self-revealing quality to it that it can't help conveying a certain hope simply through its humanity. It's the best place to go to understand why 2Pac is so revered; it may not be his definitive album, but it just might be his best.
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2Pac - All Eyez on Me (Feb 13, 1996; Death Row)
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.
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2Pac - The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (Nov 5, 1996; Death Row)
Everything about The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory smacks of exploitation. Released only eight weeks after Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds, Death Row released this posthumous album under the name of Makaveli, a pseudonym derived from the Italian politician Niccolo Machiavelli, who faked his own death and reappeared seven days later to take revenge on his enemies. Naturally, the appearance of Don Killuminati so shortly after Tupac's death led many conspiracy theorists to surmise the rapper was still alive, but it was all part of a calculated marketing strategy by Death Row — the label needed something to sustain interest in the album, since the music here is so shoddy. All Eyez On Me proved that Tupac was continuing to grow as a musician and a human being, but Don Killuminati erases that image by concentrating on nothing but tired G-funk beats and back-biting East Coast/West Coast rivalries. Tupac himself sounds uninterested in the music, which makes the conventional, unimaginative music all the more listless. If he had survived to complete Don Killuminati, it is possible that the record could have become something worthwhile, but the overall quality of the material suggests that the album would have been a disappointment no matter what circumstances it appeared under.
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2Pac - R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (Nov 25, 1997; Jive)
Shortly after 2Pac died, there were rumors that hundreds of unreleased songs remained in the vaults; a mere two months after his death, the first posthumous record, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, appeared. Death Row released the record, and shortly afterward, 2Pac's mother, Afeni Shakur, gained the rights to all of his unreleased recordings from both the Interscope and Death Row labels. She founded the Amaru label and released the double-disc R U Still Down? (Remember Me) in late 1997. Culled from 2Pac's unreleased Interscope recordings between 1992 and 1994, including several tracks that have had backing musical tracks "reconstructed," R U Still Down? doesn't have the aura of exploitation that haunts the Makaveli album, but it isn't much better, either. For the most part, Shakur sounds good, spinning out rhymes that are alternately clever or startling, but he eventually begins repeating himself and running out of ideas. That's much better than the music itself, which is pretty much standard-issue gangsta rap that never deviates from the course. There are enough hidden gems to make it worthwhile for hardcore 2Pac fans, but it doesn't necessarily bode well for the Amaru label's series of unreleased recordings. If this mediocre mess is the top of the heap, they'll truly be hurting for strong material once they reach the bottom of the allegedly hundreds of unreleased 2Pac recordings.
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2Pac - Still I Rise (Dec 14, 1999; Interscope)
More than three years after his death, it's difficult to believe there's still unreleased 2Pac material out there, much less quality material. After no less than three posthumous albums built around what 2Pac produced when he was still alive (plus an assortment of bootlegs making the rounds), the well apparently still hasn't run dry, and Still I Rise is the inevitable result. As on the Notorious B.I.G. album released just weeks before though, there are some pretty wide gaps on Still I Rise between rhymes actually delivered by 2Pac. There's also an undeniable — some would say obvious — impression that this album just doesn't bear the mark of 2Pac himself.Making up the difference in both categories is Outlawz, a quartet of rappers keeping the flow going between 2Pac fragments. As with 2Pac's other posthumous releases, Still I Rise comes with four or five solid tracks that may have survived the cuts on a real 2Pac album. The title track and "Letter to the President" are obvious winners, still reliant on the syrupy G-funk that 2Pac made famous, and (thankfully) not influenced by the increasing late-'90s insurgence of muzaky hip-hop productions. And "Baby Don't Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II)" — 2Pac's self-produced follow-up to 1993's "Keep Ya Head Up" — is a surprisingly touching message track. For any of 2Pac's fans, it'll be so good to hear his voice again on new material that the cash-in nature of Still I Rise can easily be overlooked. It's just not the album 2Pac would have produced had he still been alive.
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2Pac - Until the End of Time (Mar 27, 2001; Interscope)
The fourth album released in the wake of 2Pac's 1996 death, Until the End of Time certainly offers plenty of music, two discs' worth to be precise, yet doesn't offer too many highlights besides the chilling title track. As with many of 2Pac's posthumous recordings, the songs here seem overdone, too often dressed up with layers upon layers of production, choruses of background vocals, and a seemingly endless parade of guests. All of this over-production obscures 2Pac's performances, which somehow remain remarkable no matter how deep into the vault Afeni Shakur and Suge Knight have dug. Songs like "Letter 2 My Unborn," "When Thugz Cry," and the title track are just as heartfelt as "Keep Ya Head Up," "Dear Mama," and "I Ain't Mad at Cha" had been, but unfortunately they're marred by radio-orientated production that's too glossy for such stark, literate lyrics. The title track is somewhat of an exception, though. It's one of 2Pac's most desperate, spirited performances ever — the voice of a man face to face with his own fate — and it's accompanied by an anxious yet lulling interpolation of Mr. Mister's 1985 pop hit "Broken Wings" that is far more affective than you'd imagine. Note, however, that there are two versions here of the title track (the best one being the original one, which features RL on the hook), as there are also two versions of a few other songs. These nearly interchangeable remixes function as little more than filler, particularly since the production throughout Until the End of Time is rarely noteworthy. What at first seems like an epic recording, offering 19 tracks in total, consequently seems as overdone as the production. Had this album been parred down to the length of a single disc, it could be an exhilarating listen; as it stands, though, Until the End of Time is a mishmash — too short on standouts like the title track and too loaded with dressed-up, guest-laden over-production — that you'll find yourself fast-forwarding through far more often than you'd prefer.
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2Pac - Beter Dayz (Nov 26, 2002; Interscope)
Though it was released on the eve of the busiest year in 2Pac's posthumous career, Better Dayz shouldn't be overlooked — and with the schedule including a feature documentary (with soundtrack), plus two books and another double album, it might be easy for this one to slip from the radar. A lengthy two-disc set, it benefits from a raft of still-compelling material by one of the two or three best rappers in history, as well as excellent compiling by executive producers Suge Knight and Afeni Shakur, 2Pac's mother. Organizing the set roughly into one disc of hardcore rap and one of R&B jams makes for an easier listen, and the R&B disc especially has some strong tracks, opening with a remix of 1995's "My Block" and including quintessentially 2Pac material — reflective, conflicted, occasionally anguished — like "Never Call U B**** Again," "Better Dayz," "Fame," and "This Life I Lead." Most of the tracks are previously unreleased, the rest coming from scattered compilations like Knight's Chronic 2000: Still Smokin' or 1995's The Show soundtrack. It's 2Pac's best album since his death, and bodes well for future material by, and concerning, rap's most legendary figure.
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2Pac - Tupac: Resurrection [Original Soundtrack] (Nov 11, 2003; Amaru)
Amid all of the generally disappointing posthumous 2Pac releases, the Tupac: Resurrection soundtrack is a diamond in the rough, an affective listening experience that adds a few new productions to a broad sampling of the rapper's early, underexposed recordings. Intended to complement the corresponding film, Tupac: Resurrection was obviously a labor of love for Afeni Shakur, who became the caretaker of her son's legacy following his murder in 1996. The first couple releases she oversaw, beginning with R U Still Down? (1997), were spotty and somewhat ill-conceived; however, on Tupac: Resurrection she makes some wise decisions. For one, she outsources the new productions to a trustworthy producer on a hot streak, Eminem, who works his magic on a trio of tracks: "Ghost," the powerful album opener; "One Day at a Time (Em's Version)," a thoughtful posse track with Em and The Outlawz; and "Runnin' (Dying to Live)," a fascinating collabo between 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. that emphasizes the tragedy of their respective murders rather than the drama of their rivalry. For two, she compiles quite a few previously released yet seldom-heard songs from 2Pac's early years, practically all of them career standouts: "Panther Power," one of the earliest songs Pac ever recorded, dating back to approximately 1989; "Same Song," a Digital Underground song from 1991 that includes a brief yet sharp verse by Pac, his first appearance on a major-label recording; "Holler If Ya' Hear Me," a riotous song from Pac's second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (1993); "Bury Me a G" and "Str8 Ballin'," a pair of highlights from the Thug Life album (1994); and "Starin' Through My Rear View," yet another thoughtful song, this one from the Gang Releated soundtrack (1996) and built upon an eerie sample of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight"; and more. And for three, she closes the album with "The Realest Killaz," the extremely popular mixtape collabo between Pac and 50 Cent, where the latter absolutely blasts an unnamed rapper (Ja Rule) for blasphemous impersonation while at the same time brashly declaring, "Till Makaveli returns it's all eyes on me." When all is said and done, some may express disappointment that there's so much previously released material here, or perhaps that Eminem is ill-suited as a collaborator, yet it's hard to deny the emotional impact of this soundtrack's journey from the rapper's afterlife present (the new productions) to his brilliant beginnings (the early recordings) and back (the 50 collabo). In a relatively brief 55 minutes, Tupac: Resurrection frames 2Pac's legacy as well as any best-of retrospective could while simultaneously eschewing the obvious hits and bringing several long-buried gems to light in the process.
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2Pac - Live (Aug 10, 2004; Death Row)
No better than a run-of-the-mill bootleg, and perhaps even worse, the live 2Pac album Death Row released in summer 2004 is a terrible disappointment. Then again, that probably depends on your expectations. By this point, Death Row had become a clearing-house of 2Pac miscellanea: the label had released everything from best-ofs and posthumous double-disc albums to spoken word and remix collections, each release a bit more insubstantial than its predecessor. The previous year's Nu-Mixx Klazzics (2003) was a downright travesty of what a remix album should be — 2Pac's vocal tracks pasted, as is, over lame backing tracks by Death Row's in-house band — and just when you would have thought Suge Knights's exploitation of the 2Pac legacy could not get any more blasphemous, along came 2Pac Live. This slickly packaged album is in fact a faceless hodgepodge of spliced-together audience recordings from various club performances by the rapper during his All Eyez On Me heyday. There are some nice liner notes inside from Billboard contributor Rhonda Baraka; unfortunately, her ceremonial rhetoric belies the shoddy nature of the recordings at hand. If you've ever dipped your toe into the sea of bootlegs out there, most of them rock-related, you probably recognize the difference from soundboard and audience recordings — the former recorded professionally from the soundboard, resulting in a clean, clear sound; the latter recorded amateurishly from the crowd, resulting in a microphone-recorded sound that is anything but clean and clear.
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2Pac - Loyal to the Game (Dec 14, 2004; Amaru / Interscope)
Loyal to the Game, the ninth 2Pac album released by his enterprising mother-turned-executive producer, Afeni Shakur, is one of the more unique entries in the martyred rap legend's extensive catalog. Produced entirely by Eminem, it carries on with the approach the man otherwise known as Marshall Mathers took with his production contributions to the preceding year's TuPac: Resurrection. Eminem had produced a few songs on that soundtrack, most notably the landmark 2Pac-Biggie duet "Runnin' (Dying to Live)," and his work here on Loyal to the Game isn't too much of a departure from the style of that song. In the wake of the song's popularity, Afeni gave Eminem some old tapes, and he went to work, stripping them of their productions, giving them his own trademark backing (characterized by his style of punchy, syncopated, unfunky beatmaking), incorporating some guest raps for secondary verses, and polishing them off with various sorts of hooks. Eminem's efforts here work, yet aren't ideal.
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Brand New! 2Pac - Pac`s Life1. Untouchable
2. Pac’s Life
4. Playa Cardz Right (Female)
5. Whatz Next
8. Pac’s Life
9. Playa Cardz Right (Male)
10. Don’t Sleep
11. Soon As I Ger Home
12. Don’t Stop
Special Thanks To http://www.rapbox.org