June 2, 2011

2Pac - All Eyez On Me (February 13, 1996)

(A quick programming note: today's post is really fucking long (a double album tends to do that to my reviews), so there won't be any new write-ups for four days instead of the usual two, in order to give readers an opportunity to leave comments catch up.)

There isn't really much that hasn't already been said about the late Tupac Shakur's magnum opus, the double-disc effort All Eyez On Me.  Hell, this very blog has already written about this project, in case you two have already forgotten about Patrick's Reader Review.  And yet I've discovered that the album, the first double-disc rap album recorded by a single artist as all-original material, is unavoidable, not only because of the overall impact it has had on our chosen genre as a whole, but also because I'm physically unable to actually write about his Makaveli-credited follow-up until I get this shit out of the way.  So there you go.

To catch folks up on the story thus far: 2Pac had been sentenced to a four-and-a-half year prison sentence for sexually abusing a woman in his hotel room.  (Whether that charge was falsified or not isn't up for discussion here.)  After serving eleven months of his sentence (which he spent catching up on his reading, marrying his longtime girlfriend, and writing a screenplay that is still being shopped around in Hollywood to this day), he was sprung from the pokey into Marion "Suge" Knight's custody (no doubt his profits from all of the royalties garnered from The Chronic and Doggystyle played a rather large role), and he agreed to his newly-found freedom in exchange for signing a deal with Death Row Records, which would later turn into his final recording home.  Thankfully, the paperwork required to shift the man's allegiance to one of the most widely heralded gangsta rap record labels of all time was minimal, as Pac was already signed to Interscope Records: all they needed to do was switch out executive bathroom keys.

Sensing what would be far too heavily read into later as his imminent demise, 2Pac immediately got to work recording several albums' worth of material, launching into his mission immediately upon entering the studio.  Although he was high on life (and weed), his work ethic was incomparable, and he knocked out what would later become All Eyez On Me, his Death Row debut, in a manner of weeks.  He did so by making sure every one of his songs revolved around at least one of the following four bullet points:

(a) Prison hasn't changed me, motherfuckers.  Thug life!

(b) I love pussy.  No, seriously.  Love it.

(c) The combination of Alizé and Cristal makes for a very potent aphrodisiac.

(d) (Politician and civil rights activist) C. Delores Tucker is a bitch, mainly because she is an outspoken advocate against the inherent misogyny and violence in gangsta rap, but also because I hate her.

The first single from All Eyez On Me, "California Love", a duet with label co-founder Dr. Dre (who had one foot out the door already, as he didn't care for the direction Death Row was heading in and believed the signing of Pac was one of many signs of the upcoming apocalypse) featuring Roger Troutman on the hook, was unleashed to radio shortly after Pac's release in 1995, with the full album coming out just in time for the lovebirds on Valentine's Day the following year.  Unsurprisingly, it was a monster hit, selling billions of copies with the span of a few months, cementing Tupac Shakur's place in hip hop's history and also making Suge Knight look like a brilliant businessman who, nevertheless, hired, essentially, a registered sex offender to work for his company.  Then again, Mike Tyson continues to get work in films (even the execrable The Hangover Part 2 - seriously, that movie is fucking bullshit), so this isn't unheard of in the entertainment industry.

I will admit that All Eyez On Me was the first 2Pac album I ever bought, and I picked it up for exactly all of the wrong reasons.  I had been a Death Row Records stan since day one, following the continuing exploits of Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Tha Dogg Pound, even going so far as to grab the soundtracks for Above The Rim, Murder Was The Case, and Deep Cover (which wasn't a Death Row release, but it did feature the debut appearance of Snoop, so it was a must-have in my book), so I was going into All Eyez On Me fairly blind, just because of the fucking logo on the back cover.  I had heard "California Love" a shitload of times, but being that I didn't live in California, I wasn't really cognizant of just how much I liked the song (until I actually picked up the album - more on that later), so I was mainly looking out for All Eyez On Me because it came from the same label as some of my favorite artists (not unlike what I did still do with the Wu-Tang Clan). 

2Pac was never my favorite rapper, and after I finally listened to this double-disc monolith, that opinion didn't change very much, but I could appreciate how his fans felt that he was one of the most passionate acts in the game.  (I would understand where they were coming from much later, when I grabbed Me Against The World, which is still the man's finest work, for my money.)  So even though I bought it for some of the dumbest reasons ever (man, I miss having disposable income like that), All Eyez On Me quickly became a personal soundtrack of sorts for the remainder of 1996, mainly because everybody I knew owned a copy and would not stop playing the fucking thing.

Some things you just have to let go of.


I suppose his short prison stint left 2Pac feeling that every moment was precious: that's the only reason I can come up with for All Eyez On Me being the first non-soundtrack project on Death Row Records to not include an introductory track of any sort. Hell, Pac doesn't even bother to pay any respect to proper song structure: although “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” (which is all about what our host hopes to accomplish as a ridah) follows a traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse blueprint, his opening salvo is Cappadonna “Winter Warz”-esque, by which I mean it is crazy long. This was the first time I've listened to the track in full since having it blasted into by subconscious while riding around with friends back in 1996. It was never a favorite of mine, as it sounds too soulless to impress me all that much, but I completely understand why everyone else in the world loves this shit: Dat N---a Daz lends Pac an ominous instrumental that is simple enough to replicate but menacing enough to announce the arrival of Death Row's savior (becoming especially dark when he briefly references the shooting that took place right before he was sentenced). So even though I'm not the biggest fan, the track still serves its purpose effectively. Appropriately enough, this was also the first song Pac recorded when he finally made it into a booth.

This bizarre construct appears on the surface to be a song about a man who will do or say whatever it takes to get a girl to fuck him, but that conceit doesn't mesh with the late Nate Dogg's hook, which is all about how each artist on this song keeps running across the same loose women as though this was some sort of weird and mysterious Twilight Zone-esque phenomenon and not the result of these guys simply sticking with the rivers and lakes that they're used to. So it's kind of like two songs in one, except that neither track is complete and nobody involved could be bothered with giving two fucks. Snoop's appearance at the very end was kind of pointless, as he doesn't actually rap (and his monologue is delivered in a manner intended to show depth where depth doesn't exist), but West Coast stalwart Dru Down fares even worse, only lending some ad-libs during the intro. Still, he sounded better than the two guys representing Pac's weed carriers Tha Outlawz, who provide awful performances; they're so forgettable that the only guy I can actually remember hearing from was Hussein Fatal, and that's just because I hate his dumbass rap name. I remember Death Row releasing a video to this song (with a slightly altered title) with Snoop replaced by soundalike Top Dogg as a promotional tool for Pac's Greatest Hits compilation, since, at that point, Calvin was no longer considered a friend of the family, having defected to No Limit records shortly after 2Pac's passing. I believe there was also a conspiracy theory regarding the video, as Pac appears alongside a vehicle that wasn't made available or even produced until after he was killed. Oh, random pop culture trivia! How you torture me with your useless tidbits!

Pac must have utilized a two-for-one coupon for Nate Dogg's guest vocals: since he knew he was only really getting paid for one song, Nate gave his all to “All About U” and only had a half-assed effort in the chamber for this attempt. “Skandalouz” uses a bland Daz Dillinger instrumental to ostensibly have our host describe situations that are to be considered, well, scandalous, but there is nothing salacious to be found on here: the brief tales 2Pac weaves suffer from a lack of focus, cohesion (as most rappers tend to do, our host loses the plot about halfway through and reverts back to his Thug Life-restricted view of the world), and interest, as this song was just really fucking boring. Still, it should be noted that 2Pac sounds really fucking angry for a gut who was just sprung from the pokey.

No surprises here: once I opened up the liner notes to All Eyez On Me and discovered that both Redman and Method Man made guest appearances on “Got My Mind Made Up”, this song became my first step on 2Pac's Death Row vision quest. Daz's simple beat allows all five artists to sound comfortable, delivering the first real highlight of the project, although that distinction may be just because the guest list is so different than any other track on either disc. The story goes that “Got My Mind Made Up” was originally a collaboration between Tha Dogg Pound and the tag team of Red and Meth (along with The Lady of Rage and Inspectah Deck, both of whom were erased from the final cut, although you can hear some of Deck's ad-libs at the very end of the song), but the true shock is that 2Pac, who heard the track and asked Suge to put it on his own album (as a possible attempt to diffuse the growing tension between the East and the West coasts, although it didn't really work), doesn't sound that out of place: even though they didn't share a booth, Pac seemed to be both humbled and honored to work alongside his “collaborators”, and his performance is more lyrical and concise as a result. Deck's original verse can be found online on a mixtape track called “Common Denominator”; no word on what happened to Rage's contribution. The only thing that turns me off about this song is Meth's unusually mean-spirited threat to “stick[ing] up Jews with German lugers” (the key words “Jews” and “lugers” are censored, but you still know what he's actually saying) while comparing himself to Hitler; it makes complete sense why Suge would panic and edit out the incriminating words. Still enjoyed this track today, though.

This third (or fourth, depending on how you count the remix to “California Love”) single from All Eyez On Me tries to be a filthier version of Me Against The World's “Temptations”, except with no actual temptations and one hundred percent more K-Ci and JoJo, but in the midst of 2Pac's ridiculous sex raps, he (a) calls out (the late) C. Delores Tucker (I'm sure this didn't make her feel uncomfortable at all), (b) reveals that he thinks having a girl ride his dick somehow qualifies him to be a “freak”, and (c ) unintentionally makes the radio edit sound more plausible than the dirty version: instead of the family-friendly “time to give it to daddy, sugar” come-on, the album cut has features Pac demanding, “time to give it to daddy, n---a”, which Freud would have a fucking field day with. Since I just spent an entire paragraph making fun of it, it's safe to assume that I don't like “How Do U Want It”, although, as a straight male, I appreciate the adults-only version of the video, which pre-dates Nelly's “E.I. (Tip Drill remix)” clip by several years.

The moment 2Pac signed his contract with Suge Knight's devil, the world waited impatiently for two eventual collaborations: one with Dr. Dre, and the other with Snoop Doggy Dogg. This would be, obviously, the Snoop one. At the time of this track's recording, these two were among the most popular rappers in the industry, and thankfully, this song doesn't disappoint, although it is weird to hear Snoop dropping Pac's name as though they had been working together ever since they were baller-ass embryos. (Given Snoop's work on his No Limit Records debut, shouting out his coworkers seems to be a consistent trait of his.) Daz's instrumental isn't anything special, but it still works, which is all anyone can ask for. Even though the video left me feeling indifferent (its courtroom setting and poor caricatures of The Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy, referring to them as “Pig” and “Buff”, always seemed to be a little much), the track itself still sounded pretty good today, even with Daz's nonsensical chorus that advertises a party that neither Pac nor Snoop ever seem to arrive at.

This overlong DeVante Swing concoction is the audio equivalent of a rapper's dead eyes: the cold, robotic beat suggests Kraftwerk walking through Compton on some giant piano keys, Tom Hanks in Big-style. Only a barely-there melody differentiates “No More Pain” from the sound of industrial-grade machinery. And yet, I still like this song today. The title still helps me pretend that this song is a direct sequel to what is probably my most favorite 2Pac track ever, “Pain” (a bonus track from the cassette-tape version of the Above The Rim soundtrack), which it absolutely isn't: the fact that Pac redoes the first two lines from Method Man's “Bring The Pain” as a hook is a plus for me, being a Wu stan and all (our host seemed to go out of his way to explain that he wasn't against the entire East Coast, choosing to profess his love for the Wu-Tang Clan on a regular basis), and, most importantly, the Pac featured on here sounds candid, lucid, and engaging. The rap radio station around my way even played this shit on their airwaves, so clearly I'm not the only person who likes it.

DJ Quik, who receives his only real production credit on All Eyez On Me (under his real name David Blake) even though he worked a lot more on this project than his label at the time, Profile Records, would want people to believe, lends our host the most complete instrumental on Book One thus far, and although he is hindered by the Richard Pryor sound bites laid in where the hook would normally appear, 2Pac steps the fuck up. Technically, he isn't saying anything new on here: in fact, all of his songs on here have been exactly the same lyrically (possibly because he was rushing through recording his tracks and repeating general themes and rewording some bars, all so that he could fulfill his contract and get the fuck off of Death Row, if a story from Nate Dogg is to be believed), but when he's paired up with the right collaborator, his words have more authority, so “Heartz Of Men” is a winner, even if it does evaporate from your mind almost instantaneously.

In the past, I always skipped “Life Goes On” because I was upset that 2Pac refused to write a song inspired by the television series of the same name: I think there is a lot of potential to be found in writing a song from Corky's point of view, especially when he wants to learn how to drive to be just like his sister, Becka. Okay, that's only a half-truth: I just didn't like the goddamn song. I liked Pac's overall message (you can pay your respects, whether they're for a fallen comrade of a friend locked up in the bing, but you still have to actually live your life), but I thought that Johnny “J”'s musical backing didn't fit his needs, and the ridiculous singing throughout (provided by Stacey Smallie) sounded hilariously corny. Guess what? I still feel the same way today, except I now even discount 2Pac's lyrics, as they are much more unfocused than I remembered: is it really that hard for someone to stay on to...oooh, a shiny object! Pretty!

“Life Goes On” already hinted at this particular direction, but “Only God Can Judge Me” finds Tupac Shakur fully immersed in his Me Against The World-era pathos, as he starts taking his writing game seriously for the first time on this double-disc effort. Unfortunately, no matter what Pac actually says on here, Doug Rasheed's beat can and will distract the audience from the message, thanks to his insistence on sing the drum break from Audio Two's “Top Billin'”. By the time guest star Rappin' 4-Tay (with the highest-profile cameo of his entire musical career) takes to the mic, the listener has already moved on. What more can I say? That this song isn't very good, that's what.

The way 2Pac constructed these collaborations with his weed carriers is well-documented: while he wanted to give everyone a chance to shine, his work ethic and his general impatience forced him to impose a time limit to the writing process, and if you didn't have a verse ready by the time he started to record the track, then you just flat-out didn't make the cut. “Tradin' War Stories” is one of those rare occasions where pretty much everyone in the goddamn room came up with something to say: Pac provides the opening verse and a nonsensical, Kool Keith-esque chorus consisting of four unrelated statements (“We tradin' war stories / Outlawz on the rise / Jealous n----z I despise / Look in my eyes”), but otherwise leaves this Mike Mosley and Rick Rock production to his posse to play around with. The end result isn't all that great (as every artist on here pales in comparison to the fierce passion in our host's voice), but it could have been much worse.

I was incredibly pissed off when I discovered that the original, Joe Cocker-sampling version of “California Love” wasn't included on All Eyez On Me. In my younger days, this move made no fucking sense: how in the hell did Death Row manage to release the single and video without clearing the sample properly? While that isn't really what happened (I'm just speculating here), the fact remains that this remix to “California Love” is inferior to its predecessor, although its video is much more straightforward and comforting (in a West Coast party vibe-kind of way) than the Hype Williams-directed Mad Max nightmare we're all familiar with. Dr. Dre supplies the beat, a far more laid-back version of his original, a track that was supposed to be his alone before Suge Knight intervened (notice how Dre's verse, recorded before Pac was released from prison, fails to mention the presence of his co-star even once), while the late Roger Troutman works the talkbox in one of his most popular guest roles. (A lot of people who worked on All Eyez On Me have passed away. Should all of the other guest stars be scared yet?)  Pac sounds artificially excited to be here, but his love for his adopted home state of California cannot be denied: it's just too bad that this remix sounds like a sunset as opposed to the original's soundtrack to an all-night bender. (I believe Dre's original solo version of “California Love” was erased by Suge, but if I'm wrong and someone has even a rough, unmastered copy, I would love to hear it.)

The video for this song, featuring a gunned-down 2Pac chilling in heaven while performing for the viewer, was infamously delivered to MTV and BET shortly after the man's actual passing, so there is always going to be a fear of mortality attached to this song, even though this shit has absolutely nothing to do with death. Danny Boy, the go-to male vocalist on Death Row's payroll who wasn't yet as bitter as Nate Dogg, turns in what is probably the only performance of his that anybody will ever remember, and Pac provides three verses that are undermined by Daz's attempt at an uplifting production, a fact made all the more obvious when you listen to BLACKstreet's “Don't Leave Me”, which rips off the beat wholesale uses the same sample. (Curiously enough, the third verse in the video version is completely different than what fans received on All Eyez On Me, in that he does actually touch on the concept of life after death, thereby fueling even more conspiracy theories.)

The first disc of All Eyez On Me ends with a ridiculous come-on to the female audience over a funky guitar (sampled from The Time's “777-9311”), which has the adverse effect of nullifying everything that happened during the previous thirteen tracks (well, maybe not so much “How Do U Want It”). I understand the rationale: 2Pac spent time in prison, so he would be obsessed with sex, specifically with women, but this detour into 2Pac's id is unnecessary and, as I've already said, ridiculous. The majority of this track is occupied by a phone conversation between our host and an anonymous horny female who Pac doesn't appear to remember but agrees to a booty call with anyway, without ever confirming her address, mind you (maybe our host gained psychic GPS powers during his prison stay). Patrick's previous Reader Review of All Eyez On Me also mentioned that Pac uses the goofy phrase, “Does a bear shit in the woods and wipe his ass with a rabbit?” twice: I'm happy to report that it doesn't sound natural either time. Our host sounds like he's mystified by the script he's reading from, which, admittedly, makes his performance that much funnier.


Dr. Dre's other contribution to All Eyez On Me was originally a collaboration between himself and Ice Cube for their album Helter Skelter, which was never completed, or a beat for Tha Dogg Pound that Daz and Kurupt didn't want to use. Regardless of which story you believe, the fact of the matter is that Suge Knight fucking erased all of the vocals (save for the chorus) once Pac showed interest in using it, thereby sacrificing something potentially great just to make his new employee briefly happy, not unlike a newly-divorced dad trying to bond with his child. Curiously enough, though, I can't really imagine Cube or Kurupt over this instrumental: 2Pac actually sounds like a good fit. George Clinton's vocals, held over from the original mix, introduce the track, while our host spits venom that doesn't make “Can't C Me” his finest hour or anything, but it is a goddamn entertaining track, a decent substitution for the loss of the original “California Love”. Pac's shout-out to Dre sounds odd, considering that he only utilized three of the good Doctor's prescriptions during his lifetime (the original version of “Toss It Up” doesn't count), but I still enjoyed this shit today. Pac's excitement behind the mic is infectious. Runs a bit too long, though.

Whoever approved of the sequencing on All Eyez On Me should be taken out behind the middle school and shot, of at the very least humiliated in public, possibly by throwing a pie in his or her face, as they did a really fucking shitty job of it. One of the few attempts at social commentary by 2Pac is placed immediately following “Can't C Me”, an expression of total dominance over the West Coast rap scene, and whatever power it may have carried is instantly diluted by this track. Which is too bad: aside from the dumbass title and horrible chorus, this Johnny “J”-produced song, which uses the same Hank Crawford “Wildflower” sample that both Kanye West and Eminem have used, wasn't all that bad. Kind of hypocritical for someone who glamorizes a “Thug Life” to comment about children wanting to follow in his footsteps, though.

Thanks to the instrumental, a song title that reminds me of our host's earlier work “Holla If You Hear Me”, and Pac himself rhyming in a lower register than on the rest of this project, “Holla At Me” is an enjoyable throwback song that doesn't reference the past in the least bit. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if someone eventually came out and explained that this song was a leftover from the Me Against The World sessions (maybe minus Jewell's contribution), as it shares a sensibility with what I still believe to be 2Pac's finest hour. Our host sounds deadly serious when (briefly) describing how money is the root of all evil, but even though the rest of the track isn't nearly as strict, this shit actually sounded better to me today than it did back in 1996. Nice!

This song was the recipient of a heavy amount of controversy prior to the project's release, thanks to it originally featuring Faith Evans, the spouse of 2Pac's sworn enemy The Notorious B.I.G. (Thanks to this track, rumors persist that Pac also banged Biggie's wife, rumors which she hasn't really denied, which means they totally did it. Allegedly.) While Faith's vocals were replaced by those of Jewell (rumors also persist that Faith's performance can still be heard on the album version, but the vocals on here don't really sound like her work to me), problems continued to surround the song, as Pac's attack on gold-digging women who eschew life's responsibilities in favor of selfish actions is actually dedicated and directed to C. Delores Tucker. While this track was an interesting idea (and has been done both before and since), the story behind the song remains much more interesting than thef final product.

“When We Ride” is almost the exact same song as “Tradin' War Stories”, as 2Pac once again cedes the microphone to his Outlawz weed carriers after spitting a handful of bars (and the hook). The two biggest differences between the tracks are the late Johnny “J”'s instrumental on here, which fucking knocks, almost literally (I remember riding around with my friends while they blasted this shit: it's amazing how easily this beat can change the tone of any journey, no matter how menial), and Pac's chorus, which, while still nonsensical as shit, breaks your fucking neck when he proclaims, “When we ride!”, as the beat taps on your eardrums (and your subconscious) twice in succession. I'd rather live in this alternate universe than the one that generated “Tradin' War Stories”. Interestingly enough, our host also makes a fleeting reference to his Makaveli persona, his second of All Eyez On Me, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise to anybody when he kinda-sorta changed his name later on.

Far too many of the songs on All Eyez On Me surpass the five-minute mark. Anyway, 2Pac dedicates an entire song to one of the declarative statements made earlier in this write-up: man, he really loved fucking while drunk on Alizé, didn't he? Strangely, though, Pac doesn't even really appear on this song-length infomercial until close to the halfway mark, instead allowing his weed carriers to run rampant with a decided lack of real subject matter. Quite possibly one of the biggest wastes of time in 2Pac's discography (not counting all of those bootleg Makaveli mixtapes, anyway). Sigh.

I used to gravitate to Johnny “J”'s faux-bluesy production on this track, but even though I still liked it today, it doesn't hit as hard as I had once believed. The guest list on here appears to have been selected by lottery: how else can you explain the appearances of Big Syke (who, now that I've lost my rose-colored glasses, contributes a terrible verse about absolutely nothing, even managing to incorporate the phrase “back-bangin'” and sounding ridiculous while doing so), Death Row Records stalwart C.P.O. (who isn't that bad, although I like his contribution (alongside Boss Hogg) to the Above The Rim soundtrack, “Jus So Ya No”, more), and plucky young leprechaun Danny Boy? At least Pac lends the track more than a single verse, and his outro reminded me more than a little bit of Biggie's dedication on his “Juicy”.

2Pac, Kurupt, and Big Syke all attempt to quickly check out of a hotel they had each rented for an evening of back-bangin' (I'm just assuming). Credit where credit is due: all three rappers (especially our host) stick to the script, somehow turning “Check Out Time” into one of the most focused efforts on All Eyez On Me. Too bad it's so fucking slight. I did think it was funny that Dat N---a Daz (who didn't even produce this track) is referenced multiple times but never actually says a single word: I like to think that he's still trapped in his hotel room to this very day.

Although this sex rap, in which our host advises any potential partners that he isn't interested any sort of relationship aside from the one between a penis and one or several vaginas, is both bland and juvenile (at one point, Pac sounds as giddy as a preteen when he mentions that he's “got” some girl naked), it should be noted that guest star Richie Rich, who says pretty much the exact same shit, sounds smooth as hell whenever he pops up on here. Whatever the fuck happened to that guy? Regardless, I found this track to be ineffective at best, even though the act of hearing 2Pac vacillate between shouting out Thug Life and trying to run game on anonymous groupies is kind of fascinating, in a sociological manner, anyway.

This title track is best known as the song that uses the same sample as Nas's “Street Dreams” (from It Was Written), even though this effort came first. Although he sounds decent over the beat, none of his verses have anything to do with the supposed theme of the song, of which there really isn't one, so I'm convinced that Pac simply selected two verses at random out of his notebook, relevancy be damned. At least he fares better than guest star Syke, who sounds fucking bewildered. Oh well.

I wanted to complete the All Eyez On Me write-up without resorting to my one-word song dismissal, but this track was really fucking dismal, so it cannot be helped.

This song is the result of 2Pac calling on a bunch of favors from his West Coast peers who weren't already signed to Death Row Records. Everyone rides the Mike Mosley/Rick Rock beat in their own way, which doesn't exactly help the track gel, but at least everyone gets a short showcase. 2Pac sounds genuinely pleased to be working alongside his friends again, and as none of these guys are considered to be his weed carriers, the quality control on here is much better measured than on all of those Outlawz posse cuts. So yeah, this wasn't great, but it technically wasn't bad, either.

I always found the idea that this song appears immediately after what sounds like should be its prequel to be fucking hilarious, but in reality, that title is proof positive that 2Pac wasn't putting that much effort into All Eyez On Me, choosing quantity over quality in a clear attempt to get the fuck off of the label before Suge murdered him or something. This isn't the worst way to end an album or anything, but “Heaven Ain't Hard 2 Find” is far from inspiring or even convincing, given everything else that I just forced myself to sit through.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It's unfair to rate 2Pac's All Eyez On Me as an album, because this is far from a cohesive project. Hip hop's first mainstream double-disc effort from a single artist suffers from the same traits most similar projects have encountered: there is a lot of bullshit on here. If you were to separate the good tracks on All Eyez On Me from the crap, there would be a decent EP in here somewhere. 2Pac may have rushed out product in an attempt to jump ship from Death Row Records sooner rather than later, which helps explain the schizophrenic nature (and the recycled and retooled lyrics), but even though this should never rank as Pac's finest hour (and anybody who feels otherwise is looking at the man's overall body of work and not just at this lone album), he still manages to turn in a handful of inspired performances that warrant continued interest in his field. While I'm thankful that 2Pac didn't feel the need to include skits on here, I feel as though they could have helped break up the monotony, as most of these tracks feature interchangeable verses that refuse to gel with the musical backing (which, for the most part, is okay). Without the sense of purpose he felt while recording Me Against The World, 2Pac is, simply put, kind of one-dimensional, with his softer side only making itself known sporadically on All Eyez On Me.

BUY OR BURN? There is too much filler on All Eyez On Me for anybody to recommend a purchase in the current economic climate. 2Pac stans already own several copies of this shit anyway, but everyone else should try out the songs listed below before they commit.

BEST TRACKS: “Holla At Me”; “Got My Mind Made Up”; “Heartz Of Men”; “No More Pain”; “When We Ride”

Although the infamous “Hit 'Em Up” isn't an official part of the All Eyez On Me tracklisting, its existence cannot be denied, Released as a B-side to “How Do U Want It” (and undoubtedly giving that single the extra push it needed to become one of the highest-selling of 2Pac's career), this controversial effort features our host airing out all of his dirty laundry, naming names and threatening bodily harm to absolutely anybody who is unfortunate enough to get in the way of his pen and his pad. Shit, he starts the song off taunting Biggie about having fucked Faith Evans: there's nowhere left to go but down at that point. Pac and his trusted weed carriers treat the Johnny "J" beat (and its Junior M.A.F.I.A. “Get Money”-aping hook) as true fighting music: aside from the usual suspects (Biggie, Puff Daddy, Lil' Kim), targets also include Chino XL and Prodigy of Mobb Deep, whose health is a topic of discussion (the artist formerly known as Cellblock P suffers from sickle-cell anemia). This track was obviously recorded when Pac was drunk and high (on life, I suppose) and simply didn't give a fuck what anybody said about it. He was even ballsy enough to shoot a fucking video, which aired on BET on a regular basis, Biggie and Puffy impersonators in tow. Folks looking for a levelheaded 2Pac will need to look in an entirely different galaxy: everyone else who enjoys rap beef will find Pac's punchlines abhorrent, spiteful, and hilarious, although this isn't much of a dis track, since Pac defers to his weed carriers far too often for this shit to be taken seriously. (He even took this one-sided battle a bit further with his never-officially-released “Hit 'Em Up 2”, which is readily available on the Interweb.) It's unfortunate that this beef ended the way it did. Is “Hit 'Em Up” actually a good example of songwriting? Fuck no it isn't. But it is entertaining in a spectator sport-sort of way, even with the addition of hindsight.




  1. P_CaptainJune 02, 2011

    I never gave a fuck about your opinion ("It's a Big Daddy Thing" review confirmed that on my very first visit to this blog) but now it's gone too far. Of course you'll think it has too much filler when you dissed about half of the classics that people hail this album for. There are like 6 tracks that I'd consider filler on the second disc mostly and that's it.

    Fillers are:
    What'z Ya Phone #
    Thug Passion
    Check Out Time (skeptic about it's inclusion cause it's still sorta likable)
    Run tha Streetz
    Heaven Ain't Hard 2 Find

    That's about it, everything else is at least above average and at best a masterpiece! If not in the mood, I'd also include "Rather Be Ya N.I.G.G.A." but that's it.

    Well worth a buy cause there's more than enough great material to love here and the production is excellent throughout.

  2. At best, a "masterpiece"? Seriously? When nearly every song has the exact same message? Oh well, to each his own.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. I felt the same way about this album for the most part, although I really enjoyed Ain't Hard 2 Find and I Ain't Mad At Cha. Holla at Me sort of moved me in an odd way. I quoted the song in my senior portrait of my high school yearbook, so there's that.

  4. P_CaptainJune 02, 2011

    Are we gonna talk about messages now? Does that mean we should look at east coast albums the same way? 90% of them usually just talk about how dope they are on the mic with some generic one-dimensional drum pattern. Does that mean I should dismiss them all as taken up by filler (which would mean more than half the album) that deliver the same message over and over?

    And yes, a masterpiece. I think the amount of songs that deserve that label take up more than ten fingers but only two or three of them even made it into your "Best tracks" section. We may have our differences in opinion but really, I have no idea what you are looking for in music. I look for good rapping and good beats with the possibility of a topical diversity if possible. All Eyez on Me doesn't have the latter, but it does have the former two which are two important factors. You seem to enjoy a lot of generic Wu-Tang related stuff that never say shit but in most other cases when somebody outside of the east does the same, you usually dismiss it as a 'burn' or 'neither'. For instance, Biggie's Life After Death was recommended by you to purchase even though it's not all that different to this album, save for a little more flashiness and inferior beats, not to mention Puffy's stupid ad-libs in some tracks.

    I give you one thing, that's your unpredictability. When I come here and see an album I'm familiar with, I don't right away expect the same opinion that's the popular consensus with it, but have to scroll down all the way to know your opinion. That's also another reason why I think again and prefer not to have stuff like Scarface and Geto Boys reviewed. The last thing I'd want to see is your "two" readers seeing you rip one of their good albums to shreds and take it upon themselves to follow this opinion and pass up on an album that they could potentially love. But hey, at least All Eyez on Me is popular and well known enough to not have anyone look for your opinion to get a bit of guidance, so that's great.

    I guess it's a win-win situation that you usually stick to the same ol' New York boom bap albums. Though I have to question one thing, how on earth can you have reviewed Punchline and Wordsmith but not the guy who has 'carried' them to get a bit of a name for themselves, Masta Ace? That's hella weird to me.

  5. AnonymousJune 02, 2011

    Ok this is far from perfect, so many fillers but is and always be a real classic, because is an album that brings so many good memories and his musical back up is real good. Maybe Pac isn't the best lyrically but the man knew how to make good songs and his passion behind the mic was unparalleled. By the way When We Ride is a DJ Pooh track. A purchase is recomended simply bacause this album belongs to the hip hop hall of fame. Props.

  6. @P_Captain - You've certainly put a lot of thought and effort into your bashing of my opinions. I've missed that.

  7. If P_Captain's rants cause you to delay a Geto Boys, Scarface, or Masta Ace review out of spite, then I will find every one of the 8 million copies of this album and destroy them. And after that I will threaten Suge Knight with publicly releasing the exact location of where 2Pac is hiding in the Bahamas if he does not destroy the master tracks. And last I will cause the Internet to collapse, thus erasing all digital memory of it as well.

    Not really though, just felt like getting in on the dramatic ranting, but any of those above artists being reviewed would be appreciated!

  8. I definitely think that this is better than Life After Death, but then again, that isn't saying all that much. I agree with P_Captain in that a lot of other artists talk about boasting and that gets old very fast so there's a good point to his argument. I just have a problem with Max wrongly thinking that Thug Life encourages kids to grow up violently. 2Pac has said in many interviews that Thug Life is just a lifestyle and philosophy for those who overcame rough times and are now successful. Other than that, Max is right that 2Pac restricted his lyrical ability once he left Death Row - 2Pac even warned his Outlawz to NEVER sign and continue working with Suge if he ever died because he thought Suge was a crazy fat walrus. They didn't listen to him of course. Neither did his mom. I agree with Max that he probably just wanted to get the fuck out of Death Row so he could expand his abilities somewhere down the road.

    I thought this was a great review and I can't wait till you get to Killuminati, Max! I wanna see how much our opinions differ on that one.

  9. Have to admit. This was overrated. I'll chose Me Against The World Over This.

  10. This album is not a masterpiece.
    Good, but overrated, like all things Pac.

  11. "...once he *was signed* to Death Row..." sorry about the typo! 2Pac is my favorite rapper of all time, but even I know when to criticize when criticism is due. Thug Passion pisses me off! There, I did it. You can too, P_Captain =]

  12. Grow up, P_Captain. Yes, I have disagreed with Max on a number of occasions, even in regard to what I would consider to be classics or near-classics (The aforementioned "It's A Big Daddy Thing", "Follow the Leader", "It Was Written", definitely Mos Def's "Black on Both Sides"), but if you're so pathetic that someone else's opinion on an album you enjoy offends you, then you need to grow a pair of testicles.

    I enjoyed this album more than Max seemed to, granted I would not lavish inordinate praise on it, but some of the songs on the first disc particularly are fantastic. I am not going cry over the fact that Max does not appear to agree with me on this. I have my opinion, he has his - if the two coincide, cool; if not, hey, agree to disagree. It's what adults do.

    Anyway, good album, funny review. I would like to recommend Shad. He's pretty nice.

  13. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    not a particularly interesting album. don't force yourselves to like it, you guys don't owe tupac anything.

  14. I always thought this album/artist was lame, just download Heartz Of Men and you'll be fine.

  15. P_CaptainJune 03, 2011

    "...grow a pair of testicles." Damn, I didn't know this was a fight I ran away from! You have a point Jakxel.

    I think you guys all misunderstood my point. I was not ranting about Max not liking this, it just seems to be he has an east coast bias and when rappers from other locations do something similar to his favorite New York MCs, they get shitted on. Hell, as much as I like this, I don't listen to it regularly. Try once in a month. And 2Pac is far from my favorite rapper too and I know about criticism when it's due. "What's Ya Phone #" is a bullshit track and I'm 100% with this opinion.

    I'm not offended by Max's opinion on this album, I just think there's some kind of bias with this. He has recommended a bunch of generic Wu-Tang b-teamer albums but thinks this one is not good enough. Hell, he has also recommended Life After Death (which I think was on-point) but then this album doesn't even get a burn recommend, just five songs mentioned in the 'best tracks' section.

    I highly doubt you guys even read my comments, you just saw a long post and dismissed it as a mindless rant (Max included) but whatever. The very same people will rant endless with mindless, childish insults when their favorite east coast albums get ripped (Buhloone Mindstate, Follow the Leader, The Main Ingredient) but when I do it, they view me as a childish idiot that's "offended" by the reviewer's opinion. No, pal, you got it all wrong. I could give a fuck less if Max recommended ignoring every hip-hop album out there (which would be meaningless).

    And lastly, that was a very mature response Max, I know what you did there. Reading the comment and when it doesn't suit what you have expected, post a sarcastic response in an attempt to be funny. Well, not this time! I know the same will happen with this comment but I have explained myself fully and don't feel like I need to go any further cause deep inside, you know I'm right. I also don't want the risk of seeing "Mr. Scarface is Back" reviewed and only recommended a burn, so I'm done for now. I wont stop reading the blog, I just find that response VERY childish and if you'd rather have me out of this blog, Max, then no problem. I have plenty of other review sites where much more interesting albums are reviewed with much more credible opinions so it's not my loss.

    Peace out!

  16. i'm gonna be honest, 2pac is one of my favourite rappers, but i agree with you, this album has too much filler. its nowhere near the masterpiece it is said to be in my opinion, but its really the sort of album that, if you were ever gonna own it, you probably already do. (thug passion is particularly bad) also, no offence P_Captain, why do you continue to read and write on this blog if thats the way you feel?

  17. I love people who get upset when others have different opinions. Grow up. Max forced himself through every 'Bis album except the one good one, that alone makes him a demi-god or something. Definetly agree with the review. Maybe if it was just 15 songs or so it would be better.

  18. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    since when do people comment on these things?

  19. Max is so eager to prove All Eyez On Me isn't a classic, he denies that's it's a great album.

    I agree 100% with the above poster, who talks about Max's double standards. It's dumb how Max will invent a whole new set of criteria for a 2pac album, or a West Coast album. It can't be rambly! The songs have to be focused! Nothing can be repetitive! That's just the worst! Then he'll review an East Coast album where 90% of the songs are random bragging / random Wu-Tang slangology and rave about it. Definitely purchase! Seriously, reading a Max East Coast review and a Max West Coast review is like night and day.

    I mean, look, you have the right to like or dislike whatever you want. But the critic's job is to adequately explain why he likes or dislikes something. When it comes to East Coast albums, Max is on his game. he knows his shit. But West Coast? He's off his game, and suddenly irritated by things like "lack of focus" and etc, that never come up in a Jay-Z review. It's like he an axe to grind. Like, he's irritated at Pac's fanatical supporters, and wants to put them in their place with a sneering, underwhelmed review, that underrates Pac's work, to offset how the die hard fans overrate it. And really, you should be above that, dude.

    All Eyez On Me has so many great 2pac songs - Ambitionz As A Ridah, All About U, 2 of Amerika's Most Wanted, Can't C Me, Life Goes On, Heartz Of Men, California Love, Got My Mind Made Up, Picture Me Rollin - and you only recommend a burn? Really??? Come the f-ck on. You can still put MATW on a pedestal and recommend AEOM for a purchase. (Also, MATW has its fair share of filler, but that's another story.)

    I'm sure Max will deny he has an axe to grind, and he reviews all albums equally. But if that's the case, then why are the 2pac talkback always firestorms? Maybe it's not because 2pac fans are crazy, immature little pricks. Maybe it's because you don't give the man's work a fair shake. And that's being the craziest, most immature little prick of them all.

    Also, your Lupe Fiasco reviews suck.

  20. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    P Captain i usually don't agree with most of Max's reviews but just shut the fuck up, you're making yourself look like an idiot.

  21. AnonymousJune 03, 2011

    do wu stans go this crazy when you shit on wu (and you have stained the porcelain on a lotta wu ish)...is it that pac stans are a bit more sensitive because their deity is ghost?

  22. P_CaptainJune 03, 2011

    To the last anonymous:
    To semi-quote Onyx, I don't give a flying motherfucking fuck what I look like for you. I've made my point clear and that's about it for me. As you can see, I'm not the only one who feels this way. And if it bothers any of you, I don't care. Max, thankfully, is honest enough to let any comment be posted and I'll use this to my advantage to express myself.

    Also to the guy who said why do I read this site if I feel like I do. Well, I don't have to agree with everything that is said on a site to continue visiting them, do I? I've already pointed out that I don't always agree with Max, I just am bothered by Max's double standards with east/west coast albums, which Miles Teg pointed out better than me in my all my comments combined.

  23. Truthfully, there would be no point in doing this site if everyone agreed with everything I said. Where's the fun in that? How would that spawn any sort of useful conversation?

    That said, I wholeheartedly disagree with the perceived double standard; the only artist I compare 2Pac with is 2Pac. Doing it any other way would be outright unfair. 2Pac isn't a Wu-Tang b-teamer; why the hell would I look at him as such? (Besides, as a previous commenter pointed out, I haven't actually shown THAT much love for the Wu b-team. Some Wu stan I turned out to be.) And I legitimately didn't enjoy All Eyez On Me as much as I did Me Against The World, so much so that I feel today that I wasted my money on a double album that I didn't really need in my collection after all. It happens. Hell, I even admitted during the intro that I bought this album for all the wrong reasons. That doesn't mean that I went into this with any sort of bias, though: I go into each of these albums attempting to be entertained, and sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn't.

    I welcome the opposing opinions, as this site was built in the hopes of sparking actual debate amongst hip hop fans who are willing to look past public perception of albums to cut through to what they themselves think of so-called classics or albums that they feel are underrated or undervalued. Sometimes we'll all agree: sometimes we wouldn't see eye to eye even if you put a gun to our respective heads. But at the end of the day, everybody has their own opinion.

    Thanks for reading!

  24. You've always shit on Tupac. Always.

    And you are biased. This is a Jay-z and Biggie dickriding site. You have always slighted west coast tracks. Always. You cheapen them by calling them exaggerated and dedicating three sentences out of a four sentence paragraph review of a track to how fake, demented they are or how they stole the beat, or how they were not really wanted on the label that put out the album - anything you can do to take the discussion away from how the track actually sounds.

    One can always see a pattern with your Tupac reviews. Half the albums are done away with by reviewing tracks in single worded reviews like 'Meh' etc. Calling Outlawz weed carriers, when they did spit some great verses on this and his other albums... yet you love Beanie Segal and other 'rappers' who are the real weed carriers (which reminds me of how your your review of Jay-Z albums after his split from Rocafella always includes a joke at the expense of Freeway, Beanie, Dash and Cam'ron). This is probably one of the 5 best albums of all time and even a hater would agree that it comes in the top 10.

    And its funny, how you're shitting on this album twice. You already had a review of this album. But you felt the need to shit on it twice. Which hints at how strongly you feel the need to bury this album. That in itself is an indicator that you are at unease with the critical and commercial acclaim this album has actually received. You have readers who like Tupac as well. Yet, the 'reader reviews' are the same as yours. As if you've written them yourself. The tone, the approach, the manner in which they are written are all the same. Either you publish reviews which are favorable to a particular artist of your choice, or you write 'reader reviews' on your own.

    And WTF does the decision on whether an album is worth buying have to do with the fact that an artist has a lot of fans who have already bought the album? And on top of it, call the buyers of that particular album 'Stans', thereby indicating how you treat ANYONE who buys a tupac album. The bias is inherent in that line alone.

  25. I also totally agree with Captain P. Max never has an actual response to any question raised in the comments section. He either does not publish your comment OR he just chooses to indulge in a sarcastic remark which COMPLETELY sidesteps the actual question.

    This blog IS gaining prominence but not as a great blog but rather as an EAST COAST dickriding blog. I'm sure you're happy Max, because as Captain said above,that's exacctly what you want. You know what you're doing when you come out with reviews that shit on west coast artists, in particular, Tupac.

    You can call fans of Tupac as stans but you'll never change reality. A pig-headed unwillingness to acknowledge reality and bury your head in the sand makes you look like a complete ass. You've jsut managed to damage your own credibility.

    This site is becoming another sputnikmusic which paces rock albums above rap albums. In your case, its the east over west.

  26. I have to agree with Max this time, his review is on point. This album is overrated and although there are a few good tracks, I wouldn't recommend even a burn. I'm also not sure whether Max has double standards, I remember his opinion about Xzibit and The alkaholiks for instance. However, most of Jay Z's albums are not better than "All eyez on me" if you ask me and our host usually saves a lot of criticism. Opinions are a subjective thing..To me personally, this blog has helped me discover some albums that have slipped from me somehow. Plus Max's writing style is a lot of fun.

  27. AnonymousJune 04, 2011

    The Dogg Pound version of "Can't C me" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E-NEoE86o0 >this was supposed 2 be the comeback single for Dogg Pounds' sophomore album. Listnen to the extra bassline at the 1:30 mark. Like this version better than Pac's actually. But that's coming from a Kurupt fan. peace.

  28. @Wally - Yeah. You got me. I always shit on the West Coast. Every single West Coast artist I've ever written about, I've hated. Oh, wait a minute, you're wrong. About pretty much everything you just wrote.

    I do have an East Coast bias, but that doesn't mean that it has automatically produced the best albums in our chosen genre, which is another reason why I started this blog: to re-listen to some old favorites and to discover some new stuff. (As I've written in the past, I started off listening exclusively to West Coast rap.) For the most part, it's worked wonderfully. Just because I hate your favorite album (All Eyez On Me top five of all time? Seriously?) doesn't automatically make me an asshole with a hidden agenda; it makes me an asshole who just so happens to HATE YOUR FAVORITE ALBUM. And I didn't even hate it all that much: yes, I made fun of a lot of it, but hip hop is in need of a fucking sense of humor.

    My reviews tend to have jokes about EVERYBODY. True, I may hone in on certain targets, but everybody gets similar treatment, or at least they should. True, the Jay-Z jokes tend to be at the expense of Memphis Bleek's career, but they're there, in plain sight.

    I've also never written a review where the word "meh" takes up half of the write-up. That's just silly.

    As for your Reader Review theory - I have about twenty or thirty people who would take serious offense to your claim that I wrote all of them. Even P_Captain has presented his views on here on more than one occasion. Besides, Patrick's 2Pac review was technically a recommendation to BUY the goddamn album: why the fuck would I write something like that and then turn around and write the opposite? Who the fuck has that kind of time on their hands?

    Thanks for reading! These comments are fun!

  29. To the last anonymous - See, that's why I still love doing this site; I never imagined that I would actually get a chance to hear Tha Dogg Pound's version of "Can't C Me". So let me revise my original review a bit by saying this: I still think Pac sounds like a better fit over the Dre beat, but Kurupt carries himself well, and probably would have sounded much better had the track ever been mastered. Makes me wonder how Tha Dogg Pound's Death Row sophomore album (which, of course, never really happened, at least not with the input from Kurupt or Daz) would have sounded, since Dogg Food was fucking awesome. Thanks for sharing the link.

  30. Besides, of COURSE the Reader Reviews would appear to be written in a similar style to me: all of the contributors are following a similar blueprint, and there's only so many ways they can deviate from that format. My editing process only cleans up phrases and rearranges paragraphs and such; everything else is all them. Shit, I hardly even find myself interjecting with my own comments these days. That's just how it is. What were you expecting the Reader Reviews to look like?

    Oh, and obviously I DO comment on my own site. Just sayin'.

    Thanks for reading!

  31. Yeah, "Afterschocc" was supposedly Tha Dogg Pound's next album but got scrapped due to all the bullshit that happened in Death Row following 2Pac's death. I wish they released it because their planned single, "Me in Your World" was SICK AS FUCK. It ended up being released on that Death Row greatest hits collection, however.

    Also, Wally is really stupid :)

  32. Whatever, just keep the blog runnin' and review some Reks/Cunninlynguists/PE/Homeboy Sandman, please.

  33. to be honest i think Max seems to been harsh with the whole "message" thing but this album has always seemed like it had too much filler to me. i also cant blame Max for being harder on an album which is considered a "classic", there'd be no point in him endlessly praising it. also, he seems to shit on a huge portion of kool keiths work, even though keith appears to be a favourite of his.

    @P_Captain: i never said you HAD to agree (i don't with a lot of it) but it's the way you said "I never gave a fuck about your opinion", if you didnt you wouldnt read it. i also, judging by your reviews on the geto boys, think you have a different approach to music, you're much quicker to compliment than criticise. i agree "the geto boys" (the album) is brilliant but you dont even mention the simplicity of rhymes in places, they seem to rhyme "bitch" with "shit" in almost every song. i agree with your opinions on "born to die" though, as i, personally think biggie is very overrated.

    (I'm not even sure what point i'm trying to make)

    At the end of the day anyone who was probably ever going to buy this already has.

  34. P_CaptainJune 04, 2011

    @D: It's very simple. I don't give a damn about simplicity of rhymes. It gets frustrating if the wrong MC does it but the Geto Boys (specially Scarface) are so good at rhyming familiar words, it doesn't matter. The way humor, energy, conviction is put into their words, it's enough for me to not care if they are trying to rhyme eclectic words or using cookie cutter words like "bitch" and "shit". If you're gonna listen to a rap album, mostly concerned about the rapper being like Rakim rather than other things to take into account - it's your loss. I don't use this approach and unless the rapper is absolute shit with no talent, I don't care what words they rhyme together.

    @Wally: As much as I appreciate your support in this argument, Max is right - the reader reviews are not edited besides rewording and sometimes removing a sentence or interfering in the middle of them in italics. I can't speak on anybody else's reader reviews, but mine's were 97% the same when published and I believe Max when he says it's the same for other reviewers.

  35. Oh BTW, if Max is so biased against the west how come 80% or more of the west coast albums on this site recommended as "buy"?
    Like those:






























  36. I think Max really have a good point. Just because you disagree on the review doesn't mean that you have to hate on Max. It's his opinion. It is what it is.

  37. AnonymousJune 05, 2011

    Well at first too I thought P_Captain's reaction was a bit too emotional but he still has a point and I actually agree with some of what he says.

    I'm not going to take on Max because he brings the obvious flaws of the album to the forefront and that's a good thing. I'm a huge fan of this album, own 3 copies, not even close to be a Pac stan but that's what I grew up on so I'll always like this album no matter how "nonsensical" the hooks are, "all over the place" the lyrics are, and so on. As P_Captain (I think) pointed out, most of the tracks are still entertaining as fuck and musically and sonically, this album is way above most of what hip-hop has produced. to the point that to this day it's rated among the best engineered albums in music period. so calling a beat like Scandalous "bland" when it combines the musical, producing, engineering and beatmaking know-how of some of the best in their fields is exaggerated. You can call the beat boring to your ears but musically it's really up there. There's an interesting DJ QUIK interview where he touches this topic : http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/interviews/id.1691/title.dj-quik-against-all-odds

    Anyway, no matter people's mixed opinions about this album, i think it is the definition of a classic. Regardless of its intrinsic value, it really had a huge impact on the industry which is the paramount criterium for a classic, and from an historical perspective, you have to know this album.

    I commend Max for writing a thought-provoking review even though I think his bias can be outrageous to some. I'd like to ask him a question : you're usually very quick to dismiss Kurupt's lyrical ability (which was nevertheless praised by dudes like Biggie), what did you think of his performance on Got My Mind Made Up where the common opinion about it is that he outshined everybody else on that track ?

  38. AnonymousJune 05, 2011

    Oh yeah and also, Richie Rich is still active, he released two mixtapes over the last few years, I haven't listened to them yet but apparently they're awful. Still a dope rapper in my book.

    Pac wasn't doing E-40 a favor, he was returning them a favor. When Pac was in jail, E-40 shot a video for the song he had with him that was on his "In A Major Way" album where they sported a FREE 2PAC t-shirt. So Pac gave the love he was shown back. And I don't think E-40 & The Click, Richie Rich & C-Bo were looking to sign on Death Row in 1996. While 2pac died with allegedly less than 100 g's in his bank account, E-40 had one of the most profitable major deals that was and was getting paid (and by paid I mean paid not advanced) $1 Mill upfront by Jive for each album released. Richie Rich was signed on Def Jam and C-Bo was selling hundreds of thousands of album independently with AWOL records. So there was no way these dudes wanted to join Death Row to have the same shitty contracts as Pac, Snoop and the rest had. It's no coincidence Snoop, Nate and The Pound all went to E-40 and his brother D-Shot after they left Death Row to learn how to create and manage their own labels.

  39. @ the last anonymous - Maybe I inferred it the wrong way in the review itself, but I wasn't trying to say that Pac was doing E-40 and them a favor; I simply meant that Pac tried to line up a group of West Coast veterans, as opposed to doing another song with his Outlawz. Also wasn't trying to imply that any of them actually wanted to sign to Death Row; I just meant to say that Pac looked outside of the building for his supporting team on that track. Probably should have re-worded that paragraph before I published it. Oh well.

    I had completely forgotten that Richie Rich was once signed to Def Jam, though, so thanks for the quick history lesson.

    I've also noticed that I tend to take Kurupt to task for his lyrical ability when he makes a modern-day cameo or on his solo album Kuruption!, but I liked him on "Got My Mind Made Up", and most of his verses on Dogg Food are fire.

    @ F.A.T AKA FATPimP - Thanks for the support. And now for the obvious statement: I really need to review more non-East Coast albums. Which I'll try to get to soon, I promise.

    Thanks for reading!

  40. AnonymousJune 05, 2011

    so guys... anyone bought vast aire's new album?

  41. @P_Captain: yeah, i agree about the geto boys just udsing it as an example to make a point. but that just shows you and max look for different qualities in music.

  42. AnonymousJune 05, 2011

    45th comment!!!

  43. You still were not able to rebut the point about using excessive 'Meh's in your reviews.

    I said that its top 5 to ME, and a TOP 10 to even a hater. Bottom line is this - Usually if an album can make it to the top 25 rap albums of all time, needless to say, it is unquestionably a classic and NEEDS to be bought. To argue that AEOM isn't even in the top 25 is demented on your part and not reflective on my personal choice at all. Look at what others hip hop heads have said about this album.

    Oh and you still didn't come close to rebutting the point about how whether an album is good or bad is contingent upon its platinum status?

    By your logic, Doggystyle, Life After Death, Ready to Die, Chronic are all not even worth a burn or buy then.

    So here it is - WTF does the decision on whether an album is worth buying have to do with the fact that an artist has a lot of fans who have already bought the album?

    And on top of it, call the buyers of that particular album 'Stans', thereby indicating how you treat ANYONE who buys a tupac album. The bias IS INHERENT IN THAT LINE ALONE. Think about that before you whip up some remark that completely avoids the question.

    Captain P - I get your point, but I stick by the earlier tone of my comment. Max KNOWS that he's shitting on pretty much all of his albums and most west coast artists or any artist that is not east coast. To even deny this album as a 'buy' or 'burn' is ridiculous. And as mentioned earlier, to not recommend a buy simply because millions have already bought it before is not only blatantly biased but downright retarded.

  44. I've actually argued on multiple occasions that an album's sales has nothing to do with whether it's any good or worthy of a purchase. And that argument never even entered into the equation for this particular review. True, most anybody who would ever want to own All Eyez On Me would already have it in their collection, and I stand by the statement that there is no need for any "new" fans to actually buy it IN THIS CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE (double-disc albums can be costly), but if you would just pay attention, all I really wrote is that the reader should try out a few tracks before they commit to the project as a whole, thereby forming their own opinion.

    And I could give a fuck what other critics and hip hop heads have said about the album before my post. (To all of the readers who left comments on here, though, I DO care about YOUR thoughts. Love you!) This is MY OPINION, and if you're still attempting to get me to change my mind just because you're personally upset with what I wrote (which wasn't even as negative as you're implying, I've been a lot harsher on other projects), then you're just being foolish. Even haters would put this in their top ten? If you believe my "buy or burn" statement to be downright retarded because of what I wrote, then I believe that your statement about even haters loving this shit is one of the most ignorant and unintentionally hilarious comments I've ever read on this blog. Congratulations! 2Pac stans would be proud, and yes, I'm using that phrase again just to piss you off. Once again, hip hop is in dire need of a sense of humor - if you didn't find any of this post to be funny, well, that's your loss. Nobody else seems to be bothered by it - hell, I consistently refer to MYSELF as a Wu-Tang stan, meaning that I occasionally suffer from slips of logic when I'm at the record store. Doesn't mean I don't recognize an album full of filler and inferior tracks when I see one.

    You'll notice that nowhere in the review is an indictment on 2Pac's skills. My only criticism is that all of the songs sound similar, lyric-wise, because they DO, and that's even explained away by his hurry to get the fuck off of Death Row.

    And I STILL don't use "Meh" excessively during my reviews. Just what write-up are you referring to exactly?

    Thanks for reading!

    1. You don't like Only God Can Judge Me because you're not Black. This music isn't for you, you don't know shit about hip-hop... oh yeah, the N-word applies to male and female, they didn’t just call the males niggers they called all Black people that but u wouldn't know anything about that U faggot

  45. "I've actually argued on multiple occasions that an album's sales has nothing to do with whether it's any good or worthy of a purchase."

    " 2Pac stans already own several copies of this shit anyway."

    How do you reconcile the two?

    "This is MY OPINION"

    Yes, and your opinion has a fundamental flaw as pointed earlier. It is logically incoherent as highlighted multiple times above. So you try to take another way out and change tracks by saying:

    " if you didn't find any of this post to be funny, well, that's your loss"

    It's a review. Not a skit for Saturday Night Live. lol. You can keep on stalling since you've hit a wall as far as explanations as concerned.

  46. Surprised to see Holla At Me being recommended. I like the track, just didn't think it was generally acknowledged as a good track. Don't know why.

  47. Damn, Max 47 comments. Seems u have got some interested (and quite angry) readers.

    I must admit I totally and utterly agree with you on this album. It's interesting that a lot of people in the comments section seem to think that you are biased but if one reads your reviews I think most are much fairer and exact than say "The Source," "Rap Reviews" and "XXL". The only reviews of albums I actually read are yours and Pitchfork which in my opinion are the best; although I personally think you overrate Jay-Z but evidently music is subjective.

    As for this album there are some great songs but there are also a plethora of songs which eclipse the good ones. Evidently Tupac hurried into this album and (as you said) it doesn't feel like a finished article. On the other hand I personally thought 'How Do You Want It' and 'Life Goes On' where better than you make out but hell that's the beauty of music- Everyone has their own opinion.

    Finally, when I got this album I was similarly annoyed that it was 'California Love (Remix)' on it which is nowhere near as good as the original.

  48. I'd say my favorite thing about this album is that it is really meh.

  49. I've got to jump on the bandwagon here and add to the comment count. First, good review of a "Meh" album.

    Without doubt Pac delivered some great songs, but it's tough to listen to this whole album all the way through without looking at the clock and the skip button. I think that Pac himself said that the only reason that he did a double LP was to get out of his contract with Death Row faster (double LP = two albums out of his required three...this is also why he rushed Makaveli). It really shows Pac's incredible level of talent that can deliver a huge album like this, and rush Makaveli and STILL deliver classic tracks. Pac was definitely one of the best ever, but this album is hit or miss.

    Oh, and I've written several "reader submissions" for this blog, there is no interference with the content except for minor proofing.

  50. So, Max thinks Xzibit's "Man vs. Machine" is worth a purchase, but 2pac's "All Eyez On Me" doesn't even warrant a burn. (Just track down five songs on AEOM, Max says.)

    That is so fucking ridiculous.

    It's not even about Max being biased more toward East Coast than West Coast (which he obviously is). It's about how his opinions on West Coast music are incoherent, and often absurd. Purchase "Man vs. Machine," he says, but just download five songs from "All Eyez On Me." Wtf. Even the biggest 2pac hater would disagree with that.

    Also, throughout this review, Max bends over backwards to find criticism with some of these songs. It's some serious mental yoga that would qualify him for Olympic gold, should "being a dick about 2pac" be introduced as a new category. (I'm guessing Winter Games, b/c being bitter fits with the weather.)

    The songs on AEOM "don't stay on message," Max says. "Lack of focus," Max says. Then he'll review nine albums in a row from Wu-Tang affiliates that The RZA himself has completely forgotten about, albums full of vague song titles like "Lava Fighterz" and "Hurricane Tigerz" and "Dragon Monkey Ninjaz," with chicken soup verses about fuck-all, but he won't say anything about songs lacking focus or staying on message or being repetitive. Ghostface album? Let's judge the music for what it is. 2pac album? That guy BETTER STAY ON MESSAGE AND KEEP SAYING NEW THINGS AND CONFORM TO THIS WHOLE NEW LIST OF CRITIERIA FOR GREATNESS THAT I WILL DISCARD AS SOON AS I'M DONE WITH THIS 2PAC ALBUM.

    Seriously, dude. All Eyez On Me is no classic, true. It has flaws, true. But just burn five songs? Five songs that aren't even close to the five best songs on the CD? While recommending shit like "Man vs. Machine" for a purchase? What? You're entitled to your opinion, but I don't know who's going to take it seriously, since your arguments make no sense.

    Time to go buy that "Man vs. Machine" album. Nothing says classic West Coast like "Choke Me Spank Me Pull My Hair." According to Max, anyway. Man, that song was focused and totally on message.

    East Coast albums reviewed here: 3290342340394823
    Wu-Tang albums reviewed here: 3290342340394822
    West Coast albums reviewed here: 8
    Southern albums reviewed here: -3290342340394823

    Comments on non-2pac reviews: 0-20, b/c they were reasonable

    Comments on 2pac reviews: 50+, b/c they are unreasonable and full of more axe-grinding than the Crimean War

  51. wow a lot of comments for this one and almost everyone ignored F.A.T AKA FATPimP's comment, the best one and it should have been the last one

  52. @ protoman - I was hoping that someone would bring more attention to F.A.T. AKA FATPimP's comment, since that was thorough as hell in a way that I couldn't even be bothered to do.

    Also loving how, no matter what I write, people still think that I'm avoiding the issue. Read between the lines, folks; I've answered all criticisms and acknowledged where I need to improve. That's all you're getting from me. Those of you waiting patiently for a retraction are fucking dreaming.

    Thanks for reading!

  53. AnonymousJune 06, 2011

    I just wanted to say, since I seem to be the only one with this opinion : I've always preferred California Love's Remix to the original song. I think it's due to the fact that I'm a westcoast head and that as such I prefer funky instrumentals rather than classic rock or popish samples (which 2pac resorted to an awful lot throughout his career). Kleeer's intimate connection is a better match with the spirit of the westcoast gangsta rap music than Joe Cocker's Woman to Woman IMO. So as a westcoast anthem, it makes more sense to me to have a song that samples Kleeer rather than a song that samples Joe Cocker. DJ Quik is said to have ghostproduced the remix, btw.

    And as far as this review getting more attention than FATPimp's i'll speak for myself : when it comes to westcoast music reviewed on this blog I always check whether it's Max reviewing the album or not. If it is, i read, if it's not I usually dont(unless it's an album i really love). since it's so fucking rare to see him comment westcoast albums, i'm always curious to see what he thinks about this or that album. I was pleased to see that he loved Conversation and Dogg Food...

  54. At long last; Max's review of 2Pac's album has come and I've got to say, it's pretty good. I even appreciated that he tried not to resort to his one word tricks...

    I may have to say that I have this album and I think a few of the tracks here on great; I also have to feel that Max's opinions have some merit, as I myself found most of the songs to be skippable/forgettable.

    Also @Wally; the fact that he puts humor in his reviews is what makes this site. It gives it a certain charm that other hip-hop blogs don't have and hey; I'm a really, really big fan of his snarky comments/rebuttals. That doesn't mean that Max doesn't take reviewing albums seriously, he just injects a dose of humor to them.

  55. I can see why you delay writing up reviews for Public Enemy now, the negative response is overwhelming even though it isn't even that great of an album; this has to be your most commented on review by-far.

    Maybe look at some Freestyle Fellowship or old Del (outside of Deltron 3030) to at least open up discussion on (what I find to be far superb to this and every other 2Pac album) some more "abstract" West Coast rap.

  56. @Wally LMAO, LOL, ROFL! I could name over 30 hip-hop albums off the top of my head.

    Even 2Pac said he did this album to please Suge Knight's demands.

    The album has a couple of songs that have nostalgic value to me, but at the end of the day it has too many goddamn filler tracks.

  57. 60 Comments? Its a new record I think...

  58. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    overrated lp from the most overrated rapper ever...how can this shit where aint no relation between songs be considered a classic, too much garbage on this, only a very few tracks deservin to be heard, pac had my respect for a long time but his death definitely made him become overrated as an mc...such a damn shame when dudes like o.c. or sean price (both randomly chosen, theres plenty other mcs in that case) don't even get played on the radio since their beginning...

  59. AnonymousJune 10, 2011

    This review's way too negative.

    I can't respect anyone who says AEOM isn't even worth a burn. And especially if they just five random-ass songs are worth a burn.

    Great songs:
    Ambitionz As A Ridah
    All About U
    Got My Mind Made Up
    How Do You Want It
    2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted
    Heartz Of Men
    Life Goes On
    Only God Can Judge Me
    California Love
    I Ain't Mad At Ya
    Can't C Me
    Short Wanna Be A Thug
    Wonda Why They Call U Bitch
    Picture Me Rollin
    Ratha Be Ya Nigga
    All Eyez On Me
    Hit Em Up (if it counts)

    Good songs:
    No More Pain
    Tradin War Stories
    Holla At Me
    When We Ride

    Average songs:
    Check Out Time
    Ain't Hard 2 Find
    Heaven Ain't Hard 2 Find

    Bad songs:
    What's Ya Phone #

    That's the general consensus, sorry.

    1. Clearly not the general consensus as at least half of the people have said its no classic and got loads of filler

  60. Tile GroutJune 11, 2011

    Well, for what it's worth P_Captain has never much agreed with my opinions on "gangsta" rap, which I admit I do have a certain bias against - if it seems to celebrate indefensible acts as opposed to describe them, vent about them, offer solutions, etc. This bias is based on my life experience (for the record I'm not law enforcement or a social worker or something).

    That said, I agree with P_Captain and rate this a "buy". I got burned out on "g-funk" et al back in the '90s, and grew tired of much of my own coast's hip-hop style. But I can't deny that this a good, solid album. 2Pac had a special talent and his beats were often incredible.

    @ Max, nice to see so many comments on a post and that you're joining in the conversation.

  61. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    "when dudes like o.c. or sean price (both randomly chosen, theres plenty other mcs in that case) don't even get played on the radio since their beginning..."

    You stupid? "Far From Yours" and "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" were hit singles when they came out

  62. you hit the nail on the head with "holla at me"

    it definitely has the me against the world feel lyrically, on top with a throwback sound straight from 96.

    in a re-listen today, i appreciate it much more now to when it first dropped. maybe because it has the vibe of my favorite pac era, the pre-death row days..

  63. AnonymousMay 27, 2012

    I think if you guys were from California you would appriciate this album more. to each his own

  64. AnonymousJune 20, 2012

    Fuck you and your bullshit opinions PAC was the greatest an most hard working man in rap ever. How dare you butcher a classic album like this an fuck that stupid bitch who said this was not a masterpiece it was. All eyes on me and all of pacs albums are better then any of the crap they make today, I would love to bitch slap everyone of you who think PAC is over rated

  65. Just re-read some of these comments. Ugh. Internetz...

  66. Doggy McDoogalSeptember 18, 2012

    So lemme get this straight....

    DON'T buy or even burn the album with California Love, 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted, Amibtionz As A Ridah, All About U, U Can't See, Picture Me Rollin & Heartz Of Men.

    But DO buy or burn every Jay-Z CD ever made....and fucking 9th Prince albums.

    Seriously Max???

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  68. best.comment.section.ever. i'll say i agree w/ Max's opinion, because unlike other Mc's with more lyrical ability, Tupac's lyrics sound very hollow unless he's actually saying something

  69. I get too many laughs out of reading the comments on this post. Now you've got me anticipating a review of another really, really big album for the intensity of the comment section alone

  70. You are a fucking retard if you think aeom isn't a 5/5 album I'm not trying to urgu with your but prob one of the more crazy reviews I've seen you havr your own opion but 75 percent of the hip hop community would prob think your dumb

    1. I don't know...starting your comment by calling me a "fucking retard" certainly SEEMS like you're trying to argue with me...

  71. the album was cool whatz ya phnoe # was lame but i like the rest

  72. AnonymousMay 08, 2013

    fuck max 2pac is the best and is not overrated 2pac better than biggie and jayz and nas really grow up u sound like haters really dawg it was a classic.

  73. I read in the early comments that this album should be a top 5 or a top 10 at best...


    The most important thing Hip-Hop has taught me is that there is NO FUCKING MERIT from making a fucking top whatever list.

    I despise those lists.

    To me. There IS no GOAT rapper. There IS no GOAT album. Fucking period.

    All anybody in this industry, or ANY artistic industry for that matter, can ever have is a fucking artistic contribution. To the emotional connection, replay value & longevity of your shit.

    And, shit, does hip-hop ever have a fuck load of those. Just the way art SHOULD be.

    1. It's like making a list of the top 5 girls in high school... Ain't nothing wrong with that!

    2. AnonymousMay 12, 2014

      That opinion goes for people who actually got some pussy in high school.

      Not me, though.

      So I'm allowed to be a bit anal with my shit.

    3. AnonymousMay 12, 2014

      My opinion still stands, though.

      The rating lists are what killed this medium.

      Dear Max,

      However can you shit on 3 of my Top 5 albums EVAH?

      You will burn in the eternal fires of hell for your transgression.

      (See what I mean?)

    4. AnonymousJune 25, 2014

      You never got pussy in high school... that's a shame dawg, I was bodying these girls back in the day, anyway to extend on what I was saying people are always going to be making lists of things that compete with each other, that's inevitable. Survival of the fittest. Humans instinctively try to pick the best of things. Anyway... to each their own.

  74. Some fool (Wally, was it?) way up in the comments said some shit about how even a hater would put this as a top 10 (what? Rap album? Top 10 albums across all genres?). I would like to introduce everyone to my father, who unfortunately can't be sitting next to me helping out with this because he's living in Asia right now. My dad hates rap. All rap. Anything to do with hip hop. All of it. He is the biggest rap-hater I know (especially because he is such a music lover otherwise). He would give this album a 0/10 just for being a rap album, and a -11/10 for having spelling like "Ambitionz," etc. There is no way in this world or any other, that he would put this on any top ten list. So sorry Wally, that's the stupidest thing I've ever read.

    Also, I'm sad to see all the mad hate going on on this forum (2.5 years old, I know, I know). Here's how it is. Max didn't like the album. He listed a few tracks that he thinks are worth checking out. If you like those tracks, you go out and listen to more. If you like THOSE tracks, then you either burn the album, or if you really love the album, you buy that shit. Easy!

    Allow me to demonstrate how this conversation should have gone. I actually love this album, but I see why a lot of people don't. I have a lot of friends who can't get through the whole thing in one sitting (I can). What a lot of people call filler I actually really enjoy. So there you go, there isn't a single track on this album that I dislike, although Check Out Time and Run Tha Streetz aren't my favourites at all. I love this album. I am not from Cali. I am not from the West Coast at all. I am not even from the States. I also love a lot of East Coast stuff. I think I have good reasons to like this album, reasons that I can articulate. I feel that Max (and the other people on this thread who didn't like the album) also have good reasons that they can articulate. That's cool too. I personally also don't like track by track reviews. Max seems to (it allows for a more specific analysis of things). That's cool.

    Here's the thing. I don't need to have my opinions validated by x number of other people. I can stand my own ground and justify them myself. If someone has a different opinion I can live. I won't die.

    1. AnonymousJune 25, 2014

      Well, justify this: how could you (and everyone this applies to) actually take Wally seriously about him saying even a hater would put this in their top ten? I think you're all more of a fool than he is to fall for that shit and then talk about your amazing father.

  75. AnonymousMay 12, 2014

    Me personally,

    I think you went too soft on this album, Max.

    Got My Mind Made Up was the ONLY song worth merit in this double album of barf committed to wax.

    If that Dogg Pound sophomore were released with the original song. Inspectah Deck would be front & center with no Daz, no Lady of Rage & no deranged 2Pac in sight.

    May I present Kurupt's curtain call as The Kingpin, the beast he once was on the mic. After this song, he became Young Gotti, the drunkard who sticks around respected producers starving for a fucking paycheck & a feature.

  76. AnonymousMay 12, 2014

    Me Against the World was an album with some damn fine songs.

    But that's my problem with 2Pac.

    He has NEVER made a full classic cohesive ALBUM.

    Don't get me wrong, he is a fucking brilliant songwriter.

    But he's just not focused enough on his albums.

  77. Escutar as músicas do 2pac

  78. Good to see this blog still around, I used to read it a lot 5 or so years ago. Sick blog.

    Gotta say tho I personally love this album and think you're harsh on it Max! Surprisingly consistent and good stuff mostly throughout for such a big album, and got that awesome old school west coast sound. Best with lots of weed. I like how Max just posts his own genuine raw opinion though mixed with some humour and piss taking.

    Man, I grew up on life goes on, that track means so much to me can't understand how anyone could dislike it. How many rappers can make tracks with that much heart?

    Tradin war stories is just fuckin crazy good too and full of energy.