All Eyez on Me
"Live my life as a thug until the day I die . . ."
Ever since Tupac Shakur's violent death, there have been persistent rumors that the New York–born rapper is, in fact, alive somewhere, and still on the run from the various evil forces that conspired against him during a 1996 drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. This notion would explain Shakur's rather incredible posthumous output—more records bearing his name have been released since his death than during his lifetime. Where the "martyr in exile" theory falls apart is in the music itself: None of the posthumous output gets within the same ZIP code as the creativity displayed here, on this double-disc of illuminated and belligerent dynamite that's schooled every would-be thug who ever rocked a microphone.
When Shakur, or 2Pac, recorded this, he was already deep into gangsta mythology and the real-life exploits that fueled it. His previous album, Me Against the World, came out while he was in prison, serving time on a sexual assault conviction. All Eyez on Me is his fourth record, and as he implies with the title, he'd been affected by several years of living in the spotlight. He sounds somewhat paranoid, quick to draw conclusions about people and their motives; on "Only God Can Judge Me," he muses, "Perhaps I was blind to the facts, stabbed in the back, I couldn't trust my own homies, just a bunch a dirty rats." Throughout, he talks of loyalty as though it's a rare and precious thing. His descriptions of violence are dramatic and mean-spirited and funny, sometimes all at once.
Among Shakur's enduring contributions to hip-hop is his effective use of R&B-style hooks, repetitive and often sung catchphrases. These offset the brutality of the All Eyez raps and provide the songs with basic structure. "Can't C Me," one of several tightly wound Dr. Dre productions, features the sepulchral vocals of George Clinton doing a P-Funk thing; "All About U" contains a refrain sung by Nate Dogg over a beat that flirts with disco.
This was Shakur's first effort for L.A.-based Death Row Records. Between the time of its release, in February 1996, and his murder in September, Shakur visited the studio regularly, and the music he recorded, much of it released posthumously under the nom de rap Makaveli, hews to generic thug narratives at the expense of the more cosmic observations of his earlier work. Sure, the shoot-'em-ups and street confrontations are skillful, but they're missing the introspective dimension that lifts this album above so much of the posturing gangsta jive that came after it.
Released: 1996, Death Row
Key Tracks: "California Love," "All Eyez on Me," "Skandalous," "Ambitionz as a Ridah"
Catalog Choice: Me Against the World
Next Stop: Snoop Dogg: Doggystyle
After That: 50 Cent: Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Book Page: 789
#1 from Adedamola, OgjacHETbyB - 03/30/2012 7:31
“Why am I fighting to live,If I am just linvig to fightWhy am I trying to see.When there aint nothing in sightWhy am I trying to give,When no one gives me a tryWhy am I dying to live,If I am just linvig to die?”? Tupac ShakurA truly inspirational individual, RIP Tupac Shakur, your music will live on.