The death of 2pac and Notorious B.I.G. helped bring forth the end to the bitter-sweet rap war between East and West. Despite their passing, their music lives on. Or does it?
With three albums released since his departure from this world, the legacy left by 2pac seems almost surreal. In fact, it is rumored that 2pac has 10-12 more unreleased albums yet to be brought forth. But in order for these unreleased albums to make it to market, they must be polished. And that polish is most evident on 'Still I Rise'. The Outlawz are those responsible for this task. They throw in a chorus where needed, trade verses to fill gaps and generally serve as a glue for most songs. To quote The High & Mighty, unfortunately "they spew goo in the form of Elmer's Glue". In other words, they don't bond to the music as well as Tupac. They're watered-down flour that's blooming mainly due to the legacy of 2pac. 2pac however is like crazy glue. Once he sticks his lyrics in your head, there's no getting 'em out.
'Still I Rise' was an interesting mix of old skool, new school, R&B and gangsta rap. It featured a number of Tupac's more notorious unreleased songs. These include "Teardrops And Closed Caskets", "Tattoo Tears" and "Black Jesuz." In case you're not familiar with 2pac, his style is all about the ghetto. His lyricism is mystical, with a seeming-edge that when in the right light, looks crystalline and then there's no looking back.
"Hell 4 A Hustler" has a club bounce that makes it an easy hit if it gets released. Upon first listen, it is the standout song on the album. "High Speed" has a chorus that you'll definitely be repeating. "Letter To The President" takes on an energy that'll pump you. Tupac deals with the racism and lost promises that surround the White House. It features one of my favorite lines of the album: "...figured if we high they could train us, but then America messed up and blamed us..." "Homeboyz" features some sound-effect sampling that proves real attractive. The first single, "Baby Don't Cry" will find you singing along with the chorus.
'Still I Rise' was a bit of a disappointment. I would have enjoyed more Tupac and less of The Outlaws, but since Tupac is dead, there's not much to be done about that. Nonetheless, the album did impress me. It provided an impressive diversity and lyrically it was typical 2pac style. If you enjoy Tupac's style then it's a fair bet that you'll still enjoy 'Still I Rise.' Otherwise it's still a worthwhile pickup, but its not at the top of my list.
(Originally posted on HipHopCanada.com)
This review was written January 24, 2000