2pac – Better Dayz

2pac - Better DayzThe deceased 2Pac was and still is, without a doubt, one of the most imfluential forces to ever hit the rap game; the vast majority throw it up to Pac as “greatest ever” for his political songs and emotional delivery, to the point where he’s become a cult icon. Better Dayz was the first real 2Pac album I ever picked up (the very first being his Greatest Hits) and it’s always stuck in my memory.

Track by track ratings: Horrible -> Poor -> Avg. -> Good -> Great -> Excellent

CD 1: 

1) Intro 

Staging of a reporter covering a crowd waiting for the Better Dayz release, posing the question of whether Pac is still alive or not.

2) Still Ballin (ft. Trick Daddy)

Sequel to “Str8 Ballin.” A bouncy but hard track with a piano and a heavy drumline. Pac delivers his usual stuff, with Trick laying a good verse. (Good)

3) When We Ride on Our Enemies (Briss Remix)

One of my favorite tracks. The beat starts off with threatening piano chords and moves into an energetic cut that explodes at the hook. Originally a laid-back cut, this remix makes Pac’s verses violent and rageful. (Great)

4) Changed Man (ft. Jazze Pha, T.I., Johnta Austin)

A bouncy, G-funk party track, Pac spits fast. The silky hook, supplied by Jazze Pha makes the track R&Bish and a verse by T.I. helps the atmosphere. (Good)

5) ***** em All (ft. Outlawz) 

Bouncy with a hard guitar riff and a reckless hook, one of Pac’s disses to Notorious BIG. Not a very good collaboration between Pac and the ‘Lawz; the only one that retains his energy is Fatal. (Avg.)

6) Never B Peace (Nitty Remix ft. EDI, Kastro)

A haunting, arabian-styled cut where Pac speaks on war and questions peace. Unfortunately his companions lower the par of the song. EDI lays a decent verse in his whiny voice, and the beat doesn’t fit Kastro’s flow (or maybe his flow was shot on the OG as well). (Avg.)

7) Mama’s Just a Little Girl (KP Remix ft. Kimmy Hill) 

A touching string beat, on which 2Pac shows his soft side and speaks on the story of his mother’s upbringing, with a soulful hook by Kimmy Hill, and the finishing touch–Pac reciting his poem “Rose From the Concrete” at the end of the track. Another of my favs. (Excellent)

8) Street Fame (Briss Remix)

Big switch from the last cut but still good. Harder than When We Ride but not as rageful, Pac raps determined verses about being betrayed and getting even. Very effective. (Great)

9) Whatcha Gonna Do (Remix ft. Kastro, Young Noble)

A southern-styled simplistic beat that doesnt fit pac’s flow, wasn’t feelin it. Pac dares anyone to test him, usual pac fare. The hook may have fit the OG but doesn’t fit this one. Kastro and Noble trade verses well, actually a pretty good collab track but *****ed by the beat. (Poor)

10) Fair XChange (Jazze Pha Remix ft. Jazze Pha)

A good bouncy beat and hook, but one that doesn’t really fit Pac’s delivery on this vivid sex track. (Avg.)

11) Late Night (From “The Chronic 2000”) 

A laid-back, smoke-a-blunt party cut about Pac lookin for and *****in women, nothing special. (Avg.)

12) Ghetto Star (ft. Nuttso)

An echoey string beat that lacks substance, with drums that lack a punch. Pac speaks on life on the run and in hiding, and Nuttso a slower verse on something completely different. (Poor)

13) Thugz Mansion (Nas Acoustic ft. Nas, J. Phoenix)

DAMN. Lots of people complain that Nas is on the track, though if the Outlawz are to be beleived, Pac and Nas squashed the beef. But politics aside, the beat and hook themselves don’t fit the original vocals at all, and Nas’ poorly-placed verse destroys what Pac was trying to say in the song. (Horrible)

CD 2: 

1) My Block (Nitty Remix)

A slow, euphoric string beat and a hopeful chorus sung by children fit 2Pac’s nostalgic rhymes perfectly. Pac raps about happenings on his block (which one is unclear). A rare look at Pac in one of his softer moments. (Good)

2) Thugz Mansion (7 Remix ft. Anthony Hamilton)

Ahh, the original unreleased Thugz Mansion. Better Dayz’ first single, the echoey synthesizer beat goes together with Pac’s angsty verses extremely well. Pac sends a message to his mother that he’s in a heaven for G’s chillin wit Marvin Gaye and Malcom X. (Great)

3) Never Call U ***** Again (ft. Tyrese)

A soft piano-laced, R&Bish track wherein Pac promises to stop mistreating his woman, who’s always been with him. (Excellent)

4) Better Dayz (ft. Mr. Biggs) 

Pac speaks on more troubles in his hood and wanting people to take more responsibility. The beat, however, sounds like a 70’s wedding dance song, and doesn’t really fit. Plus, the whiny R&B singer in the background is really annoying. (Poor)

5) U Cal Call (Jazze Pha Remix) 

A party track in which Pac spits game, over a sly, suggestive beat. Jazze supplies the usual hook for that type of thing. Nothing special but not bad either. (Avg.)

6) Military Minds (From “One Nation,” ft. CoCo Brothers & Buckshot)

A murderous beat that perfectly fits Pac’s hard rhymes. His companions on the track set up an even better collab than even the ‘Lawz could; in fact they start to sound like Wu-Tang. Best collab track on here, easily. (Great)

7) Fame (ft. Kadafi, Kastro, Napoleon, Young Noble)

A lounge-style track about, of course, the effects of fame. The beat fits the vocals, Kadafi–probably the best Outlaw besides Pac–is on the track. Their presence seems to motivate the other present ‘Lawz, who give a good performance. (Good)

8) Fair Xchange (Mya Remix ft. Mya) 

A better version of the Fair Xchange Remix, much bouncier that makes Pac’s verse seem hungry and lustful. Mya delivers a provocative hook ass–I mean, as well. (Great)

9) Catchin Feelins (ft. Mussamil, EDI, Young Noble, Napoleon) 

An angsty, angry track that goes together extremely well, Pac callin on his boys for war. Napoleon doesn’t put much emotion in his verse, but the other MC’s make up for it. (Excellent)

10) There U Go (ft. Kadafi, EDI, Kastro, Napoleon, Big Syke, Jazze Pha) 

An R&Bish track with a beat I wasn’t feeling at first and still don’t love, Pac and his boys sounding disappointed in their women, Jazze delivering a fitting hook. (Avg.)

11) This Life I Lead (ft. Outlawz)

The verses on this song, rhymes about riding on enemies, woulda been more suited to a harder track, as this beat (though not bad) sounds too lamenting. The ‘Lawz deliver pretty good performances as well. (Good)

12) Who Do U Believe In (From “The Chronic 2000” ft. Kadafi) 

A very compatible combonation of sad, lamenting, beat and the two best Outlawz spitting sad, desperate rhymes. (Great)

13) They Don’t Give a ***** About Us (ft. Outlawz) 

Another lamenting cut, Pac and the boys on being overlooked in the world, over a decent but garish synthesizer beat. (Avg.)

 

Rating: 3.4/5

One pitfall of double albums is, they’re filled with forgettable tracks. This one’s no different, though the level of that depends on your preference. A few good collabs with the Outlawz were downgraded by bad beats, and a few otherwise good songs were ruined by them. Most of the album’s best tracks are Pac solos. Also, this album was badly put together (Military Minds right after U Can Call?) but that’s not a real problem.

My advice: If you’re a hardcore fan of Pac you’re gonna want the album. But if you’re really strict about the OG’s from back in the day, the remixes may sound wrong or weird, so approach it with an open mind.

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