2pac + Outlawz – Still I Rise
Right. So it makes total sense that I post Slayer, Yaz, and then 2Pac f. Outlawz in a row, right? Sure! Can’t say my listening isn’t varied, lately…
Every time I listen to 2pac, I wonder how I’m gonna write it up. I’m no expert on the man, his work, or his legacy. But then I find a copy, like this one, real cheap. The internet says it’s awesome, so I go for it and here we are.
Here’s a blurb: “Still I Rise, the third posthumous release of “new” material by Tupac Shakur, is not surprisingly a mixed bag. Recorded in 1996 with the Outlawz, the disc at its best does showcase the power of ‘Pac. More politically acute (and complexly anti-Clinton) than most gangsta rap even attempts to be, “Letter to the President” and “The Good Die Young” find the star turning in some of his most focused lyrics and performances. Elsewhere, he often cedes the mic to other voices; the collaborations that result–“Secretz of War”, “Tattoo Tears”, the title cut–are the equivalent of campfire songs for the latter-day black cowboy. Dominated by phat beats and familiar imagery, they entertain but hardly illuminate.” (Amazon)
I agree with all of that except the bit about failing to illuminate. I’ve always said that there were 2pacs… one was a gangbanger and a roughrider. The other talked about equality and hope and peace. I always like the latter, and have no time for the bullshit former (rapper posturing make me so tired). When 2pac gets it right, he really gets it really right.
That blurb mentions Letter To The President… It was written to Bill Clinton, but it could be applicable to any term, even this current shitshow. The Good Die Young is the same. Nothing ever changes and we’re doomed to repeat history if we don’t learn from it. Heard that before? Yup.
Musically, 2pac always had a soulful, funky, sweet backing sound and, as usual, I love that side of it. The rapping is laid back, almost lulling, but the words keep you with it, always moving, always thinking.
Apparently, “Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya’ Head Up II),” featuring vocals from Heavynn, Erica and Tiana of H.E.A.T., a female pop group, as well as E.D.I. Mean and Young Noble, was the only single from the album.
Though I’m no expert, I’d say this is a solid release. It held my attention, and it had a lot to say, which I would expect from 2pac, who I always considered one of the better conscious rappers (when he wasn’t posturing, see above). And though a lot of what they had to say here was sad, depressing, bleak, I came away with a sense of hope, that if folks would just wake the hell up, things could improve. Hence the album title, Still I Rise, eh?