Often regarded as the greatest rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur’s presence in the game isn’t even a topic of debate. Since his death, no emcee has been able to fully capture or emulate Tupac’s aura, let alone fill the enormous hole he left behind. Thankfully, ‘Pac’s distinguished work ethic resulted in nothing short of a legacy, marvelously providing volumes of material that continue to be released to this day. Commemorating the ten year anniversary of ‘Pac’s death, Afeni Shakur (his mother) along with Tom Whalley spearhead the latest posthumous 2Pac project which features all but one previously unreleased verse.
The Most Misleading Album Title Ever?
Pac’s Life is Shakur’s sixth posthumous release (not including compilations, soundtracks, poetry, and/or live albums), tying his total of original studio albums: Life goes on.
“What do you know about ‘Pac’s life?” Those are the words sung by Ashanti, on the album’s title track and first single. Pac’s true life was Me Against the World, it was 2Pacalypse Now. Pac’s Life is anything but. Though the album features contributions from real life friends such as Snoop Dogg, Keyshia Cole and The Outlawz, Pac’s Life fails to elucidate a full exposé of the “life” of Shakur, who was, indeed, a multi-faceted personality.
Putting opinions regarding the album’s title aside though, Pac’s Life is simply a poorly executed project with several flaws. For instance, the title track essentially fills up two spots, as it’s “remix” is basically the same song: both ‘Pac and T.I.’s verses remain untouched, even over the same exact L.T. Hutton-produced beat, this time accompanied by Snoop Dogg and Chriss Starr. Though they at least have their own distinctive beats, the same can be said about the dual “Untouchable” and “Playa Cardz Right” tracks.
Nothing Phenomenal Here
Conceptually, Pac’s Life attempts to cover plenty of ground, with hopes of having its cake and eating it too. With flossy pop-infused joints such as the title track, as well as “International” featuring Nipsey Hussle and Young Dre the Truth, Pac’s Life also endeavors to capture Shakur’s “Outlaw” edge. On the Swizz Beatz’ produced remix to “Untouchable”, Pac’s presence eerily feels contemporary as he takes a little jab at his erstwhile rival Nas: “Now I’m worldwide, n****s gossip like girls then hide/ No offense to Nas but this whole f***ing world is mine.”
Pac’s Life is a hodgepodge of sonic textures with plenty of ups and downs. Production-wise, Sha Money XL of G Unit fame steals the show with a total of four tracks. On “Dumpin’”, Hussein Fatal and newcomer Papoose accompany Pac as the trio spit daggers over sinister piano keys which compliment Carl Thomas’ ominous hook. On “Sleep” (also produced by Sha Money XL), ‘Pac rolls along with Young Buck and Chamillionaire as the three swap verses on top of looming synths. But of course, as stated before, “Pac’s Life” has got its fair share of duds as well. On “Don’t Sleep” (two tracks after “Sleep”), the energy of ‘Pac and crew is overly exerted as they rhyme over lackluster strings’.
One for the True ‘Pac Fans
The only track on Pac’s Life which isn’t chopped up and fragmented from its original form is “Soon as I Get Home” produced by QD3, the son of the legendary Quincy Jones. Featuring Yaki Kadafi, 2pac’s dear childhood friend (also deceased), QD3 crafts an evocative backdrop for ‘Pac and Yak’ on this gripping and vivid tale of rage and imminent revenge.
The Bottom Line on Pac’s Life
Often paralleled to Vincent van Gogh, 2pac’s popularity skyrocketed after his uneventful death. Though “his music” continues to be released to this day, true ‘Pac loyalists are aware that no posthumous album could ever capture the energy and mastermind of the late Tupac Amaru Shakur; Pac’s Life demonstrates this conventional wisdom with no difficulty at all. There is a reason why ‘Pac is deemed by many as the greatest of all time, and this album is in no way a reflection of (you guessed it!) his “life” and true essence. Anybody interested in figuring out what ‘Pac was really “all about” would be advised to dig deep and explore his earlier poems and recordings to truly appreciate his thoughts, personality and the imprint he left behind. “Holla if ya hear me!”
Top Tracks from Pac’s Life
- “Dumpin’” (feat. Hussein Fatal, Papoose & Carl Thomas)
- “Sleep” (feat. Young Buck & Chamillionaire)
- “Don’t Stop” (feat. Big Syke, Yaki Kadafi, Hussein Fatal, E.D.I., Young Noble & Stormy)
- “Soon as I Get Home” (feat. Yaki Kadafi)