In the midst of Tupac Shakur’s very crowded catelog of albums (most of which were released after his death), there is some very classic material that no one seems to ever mention alongside commercially acclaimed albums like ‘All Eyez On Me’ or ‘Makaveli The Don: The 7 Day Theory’; including earlier gems such as ‘THUG LIFE Vol. 1’. This album was released in Sept. 94 and offers maybe the last glimpse (with the exception of Me Against The World) of a truly introspective artist at his politically themed peak. THUG LIFE, 2Pac’s first group to release an album, consisted of Big Syke, Macadoshis, Rated R, and cousin Mopreme Shakur. On to the review:
1.) Bury Me A G feat. 2Pac, Mopreme, Macadoshis, Rated R, Big Syke:
This song features the entire THUG LIFE click and samples an Isley brothers classic. The perfect blend of street life and 70s funk is apparent here, as all members spit introspective verses on growing up in the streets. A very underated song that deserves more recognition.
2.) Don’t Get It Twisted feat. Mopreme, Macadoshis, Rated R:
1 of 2 songs without group leader 2Pac, three other unknown members at the time get a chance to shine over another funk driven beat…a decent track none the less, with Mopreme’s verse hitting the hardest. Average track, and is lacking a 2Pac verse.
3.) Shit Don’t Stop feat. 2Pac, Macadoshis, Rated R, Mopreme, Big Syke, Y.N.V.:
Released as a single, ‘Shit Don’t Stop’ is a George Clinton sampled song featuring Y.N.V. and is easily the most funk influenced song on the album. With all members delivering good verses over this Bay Area beat, it makes this song another classic among classics.
4.) Pour Out A Lil Liquor feat. 2Pac:
A very smooth laid back song with guitar rifts finds Pac reminiscing on past friends that have died in the struggle. Also featured during the feature film ‘Above The Rim’ this song is one of Pac’s 2 solo’s and doesnt dissapoint in the least. Yet another classic.
5.) Stay True feat. 2Pac, Stretch, Mopreme:
Possibly my personal favorite track on the album, 2Pac, Preme, and Stretch trade verses about living the Thug Life and staying tru 2 da game. West Coast influenced production suits the vocals perfectly, and make for another great song.
6.) How Long Will They Mourn Me? feat. 2Pac, Nate Dogg, Big Syke, Rated R:
One of Pac’s first experiences detailing his own death while reminiscing yet again on dead friends, flows perfectly over the Nate Dogg assisted track. While dragged down by verses from Syke and Rated R, ‘How Long…’ is still a great track that has a tremendous amount of repeat value…making it very introspective.
7.) Under Pressure feat. 2Pac, Stretch:
A very dark beat on an album filled with party cuts and street themes…this track shows the good collaborations between Randy “Stretch” Walker and 2Pac. Before their falling out, they made many songs together..some of them near classic; this being one of them. The song describes their pain and pressures of growing up in the ghettos and need to clutch a 9 for protection. Great song.
8.) Street Fame feat. Macadoshis, Big Syke, Rated R:
Terrible outdated production and bad verses make this song a huge letdown on a classic album. A completely skippable track…after one listen.
9.) Cradle 2 The Grave feat. 2Pac, Thug Life:
Another single, this song is an all around classic. Detaling the struggles literally from the cradle to the grave, Pac recollects on his past as does other Thug Life members. Solid production and smooth vocals for a nice hook make this quite possibly the best song on the entire album.
10.) Str8 Ballin feat. 2Pac:
Pac’s other solo on the cd closes the album out in true hustla fashion. Similar to the later released ‘I’m Gettin Money’..Pac spits four hard verses on this 5 minute track about his hate for the police and need to make money. While no particular verses stand out, the overall theme of the song and sample along with hook make it a classic cut.
In conclusion, this album, although being one or two songs short of an EP release, is an absolute classic that overshadows Pac’s other work in terms of quality. With all but 1 song being near perfect, every Pac fan and hip hop fan in general should own this acclaimed cd. With questionable cd’s like ‘Loyal 2 The Game’ destroying Pac’s legacy, pick this up and remember where it started.