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2Pac: The Best of 2Pac - Part 1: Thug and Part 2: Life

2Pac, Best of

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

2PAC was to rap what Elvis Presley and The Beatles were to rock ‘n’ roll. The top-selling rapper of all time and an inspiration to countless generations, his influence has never stopped growing.

And just like Elvis and The Beatles, barely a year passes without some new compilation emerging featuring the best of his back catalogue. Hence, the cynic in me is forced to ask: “Do we really need another Best Of compilation from this artist?” Especially since fans are expected to fork out for two separate albums at an average cost of £8.99.

But if you haven’t previously purchased a 2Pac album, or are minded to add these two LPs for the sake of completism and the teasing bonus inclusion that makes each release different from the last, then there’s plenty to recommend it.

Just a quick listen provides plenty of insight into why 2Pac has influenced so many of his contemporaries, while his complex flow offers some telling insights into his life, his philosophy and, ironically, the impending tragedy that was to cut such a rich life so brutally short.

2Pac’s ability to inspire his listeners enabled him to represent the disenfranchised he hoped to galvanize with his philosophy of THUG and LIFE (which stood for “The Hatred U Give Lil Infants Fucks Everybody”). “I didn’t create the thug life, I diagnosed it,” he’s quoted as saying.

Hence, album one is named Thug and part two is called Life. Each one contains one previously unreleased recording and one new remix along with nine classic tracks. Each is available in edited and explicit versions and the collections were assembled with the assistance of his mother, Afeni Shakur, who also serves as executive producer.

The CD set represents different key phases of 2Pac’s evolution and shows how his talent blossomed from the start.

On Part 1, the new material includes the previously unreleased Resist The Temptation and a fresh mix of Dear Mama, featuring Anthony Hamilton, whose original Grammy-nominated version went Platinum. Further highlights include Trapped, his debut single, the seminal California Love, featuring Dr Dre, and the equally timeless Changes, featuring that sample of Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is.

Most tellingly, Resist The Temptation is an addictive listen that could be described as a prophetic offering in many ways – it’s well worth taking the time to listen to the lyrics.

Part 2, meanwhile, includes the previously unreleased recording of Dopefiend’s Diner, featuring 2Pac using a vocal sample of the melody line of Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega in addition to the acoustic remix of Thugz Mansion featuring all three verses by 2Pac. There’s also Ghetto Gospel, featuring Elton John, that provided another recent hit in re-released form.

A portion of the profits of the albums will go to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation (TASF), which was founded by his mother to provide training and support to artists who aspire to enhance their creative talents. The foundation fosters an environment that encourages freedom of expression and empowers through education.

Given the power of 2Pac’s writing and the fact that a portion of the profits goes to something worthwhile, it’s difficult not to recommend this particular 2CD set, even though we probably haven’t witnessed the last of the 2Pac retrospectives…

Download picks: Resist The Temptation, Changes, California Love, Ghetto Gospel, Never Call U Bitch Again, Thugz Mansion (acoustic), Dopefield’s Diner, Brenda’s Got A Baby

Track listing:
Thug:

  1. 2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted – 2Pac & Snoop Dogg
  2. California Love – 2Pac & Dr. Dre/Roger Troutman
  3. So Many Tears
  4. I Ain’t Mad At Cha – 2Pac & Danny Boy
  5. How Do U Want It – 2Pac & K-Ci & JoJo
  6. Trapped
  7. Changes – 2Pac & Talent
  8. Hail Mary
  9. Unconditional Love
  10. Dear Mama – 2Pac & Anthony Hamilton
  11. Resist The Temptation – 2Pac & Amel Larrieux

Life:

  1. Definition Of A Thug Nigga
  2. Still Ballin’ – 2Pac & Trick Daddy
  3. Until The End Of Time – 2Pac & Richard Page
  4. Never Call U Bitch Again – 2Pac & Tyrese
  5. They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us – 2Pac & The Outlawz
  6. Keep Ya Head Up
  7. Ghetto Gospel
  8. Brenda’s Got A Baby
  9. Thugz Mansion
  10. When I Get Free
  11. Dopefiend’s Diner