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By Paul Russell
12/5/2002 10:46:47 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include 2Pac., has reviewed the latest "better Dayz" album by 2Pac, and below is their opinion on the alubm:

A crossroad has been reached with the release of Tupac Shakur's newest double album "Better Dayz." With it's debut on November 26, 2002 the thug idol to millions has had at least as much (if not more) of his material released since his death over six years ago than he did while alive. It's safe to say that during his living days, Shakur was justifiably paranoid about his own demise. This alone could account for the prolific amount of material he recorded, though it's equally possible he was recording as much material as possible to fulfill his contract and get out from under Suge Knight's thumb.

The world will never know which of these possibilities (if not both, or even an unknown third) is the most true, but the one we're still living in has not yet shaken off the ghost of this thug soldier. While here he was undoubtedly underrated as a lyricist; often not taken seriously simply because his critics believed he sold records because of the controversy that followed him everywhere. He is also overrated post-mortem, as many legions of fans (some who only discovered him after the fact) worship his every word like religious prophecy and claim he could even forsee the untold future like Nostradamus. The truth lies comfortably in between. Shakur was a troubled man, who used his pain as both inspiration for brilliance and justification for his debauchery. We saw an artist who swung between these wild extremes - the same man who could both touch the hearts of women everywhere with "Keep Ya Head Up" and yet dismiss them as "Skandalouz" in the flick of an eye. He could straight up pursue carnal lusts on "I Get Around" but then turn and question the meaning of life on "So Many Tears." The intense friction generated between Shakur's own internal desires to be both devil and angel was what made him so intensely interesting both back then and still today.

It's safe to say then that any legitimate posthumous album from 2Pac (or Makaveli if you prefer his other nom de plume) is going to generate a lot of interest and/or be a best seller. Like 'Pac himself these albums have swung between extremes. "R U Still Down?" was an excellent compendium of unreleased songs from his early career. "Greatest Hits" was a tease, featuring only a few new songs and mostly remastered material. "Still I Rise" was a somewhat dissapointing album overly dominated by the Outlawz, but last year's "Until the End of Time" redeemed the concept of releasing new Shakur material as a whole. The double album "Better Dayz" has made a claim of "20 never before released songs" in the press, but there is a small amount of rehash here. "My Block" originally appeared on "The Show" soundtrack, "Late Night" and "Who Do U Believe In" were both on Death Row compilations, and two tracks each feature two versions: "Thugz Mansion" with both original and acoustic mixes, and "Fair Xchange" featuring Jazze Pha on Disc One and Mya on Disc Two. While "Better Dayz" still clocks in with the promised twenty songs overall, one has to wonder if the material wasn't "stretched" a little for this album. Either there's not as much in the vaults as we're lead to believe, or the labels involved are trying to save his recorded material for the NEXT posthumous LP.

What can be found here is not likely to be a revelation to his hardcore fanbase. A lot of Shakur's unreleased raps have been floating around for a while now thanks to bootlegging and the internet. That said, it's worthwhile to check out mastered copies of this material whether you've heard the originals or not; and in some cases the high gloss finish almost makes things TOO vivid. Take the harsh words of "When We Ride On Our Enemies" for example; originally produced by Johnny 'J' but but given a post-mortem polish by BRISS. In his waning days Shakur saw enemies lurking in every shadow, but those who

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