Tag Archives: 2pac Shakur

Sample Snitch: The exciting G Funk perfection of All Eyez On Me

Sample Snitch: The exciting G Funk perfection of All Eyez On Me

by Dan-O

All Eyez On Me is the best double album in the history of hip hop. That is not a hot take.  If you listen very carefully it is not the dark foreboding cryptic record Makaveli is perceived to be. It is fun and fully engages its female audience in a way we all keep saying “didn’t happen in the 90’s or really before Kanye/Drake”.  On Run Tha Streetz he actually starts a verse by giving women advice on how to keep “a playa” and this was NOT the norm. Even songs that may seem misogynistic are interesting to look at from a perspective analysis. Wonda Why They Call U B___ is maligned but think about the phrasing of it, the song is directed right at his female audience. When Too Short made songs about B’s he was talking to his homies, obviously male listeners, fellow pimps/hustlers that was his constituency. 2pac understood he had a deeper female fanbase than other rappers (possibly because of emotional/personal content in the past or songs with complex/empathetic female characters like in Can U Get Away off Me Against The World) .  He wanted to explain his logic to them so they would understand his perspective and he wanted to explain groupies to them on All About U.

The reason some of the depth gets lost is that this album slaps from front to back. If you look at the samples listing the source songs is the absolute best funk playlist of all time. Rather Be Ya N_ samples I’d Rather Be With You by Bootsy Collins. A song so legendary it has been sampled from 1991(N.W.A.-I’d Rather F*** You) through 2016 (Childish Gambino-Redbone).  The baseline from Never Gonna Stop by Linda Clifford is instantly recognizable not just as the backbone for the title track on this album but the meat of Nas-Street Dreams song off It Was Written. One of my favorite songs from All Eyez On Me was always Check Out Time because of how insane it was that I was listening to a song about my favorite rappers checking out of a hotel.  That sample is Candy Rain by Soul For Real who were a new jack swing act on Uptown Records alongside Heavy D & Guy. You’ll find multiple Roger Troutman and P-Funk samples. Whatz Ya Phone# pulls from a long crazy song by The Time called 777-9311. Darling Nikki is present on Heartz of Men, all of the music sampled moves at a legendary pace. 2pac wanted a party record that could double as his last will and testament.

He takes I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) by Instant Funk and concocts the deeply meditative posse cut Got My Mind Made Up featuring Daz, Method Man, and Redman. No sleepy jazz samples or minimalism, All Eyez On Me is maximalist funk pulled through the Makaveli paranoid awareness.  When he wants to slow down he pulls the heartbreak right from the melody of Brandy by The O’Jays and infuses it in the chorus and content of Life Goes On. At an hour and ten minutes it is still supernaturally well-paced because the subtle groove of Life Goes On becomes the menacing braggadocio of Ain’t Hard 2 Find.  His words are magnificent but we shouldn’t forget the magic carpet of funk that brings him there.

Remember Curtis Mayfield helped produce this song


Slap the taste out of anyone who talks down to Bootsy…do it for hip hop.


Kendrick to Ice Cube: Damn is the Death Certificate of his catalog

Kendrick to Ice Cube: Damn is the Death Certificate of his catalog

by Dan-O

It is very well established that To Pimp A Butterfly has a direct connection to Tupac’s Me Against The World.  If you don’t believe it go to https://freemusicempire.com/2016/06/09/nihilism-in-rap-music-2pac-shakur-me-against-the-world/ and do the full podcast run. I think Kendrick has a different base point this time that accomplishes a very different thing.

Before Death Certificate Ice Cube was definitely respected, his first solo album Amerikkka’s Most Wanted is one of the best rap albums ever released with wonderful production from the bomb squad but his follow up is more in every way. In 1991 we didn’t have a real understanding of the concept album in hip hop. Death Certificate gives a template that you can still follow.

First step: Start with scorched earth

Both Damn and Death Certificate start with a brief intro into a scorched earth don’t F_ with me song.  The scorched earth first song gives the emcee absolute command and leaves the audience wide eyed and patiently awaiting more. Some of the old classical composers used to write massive swells into their symphony’s to wake up anyone in the audience sleeping. This method is very similar. Cube starts by yelling “GOD DAMN! It’s a brand new payback!” He shouts half of the first verse to make sure you are dialed in.

Mike Will Made It laces a world rattling bassline and Kendrick is off to the races daring us to catch up. With a minute and seven seconds left in DNA we hear Geraldo spewing his evil nonsense and then Kendrick is back spitting in response while the sample scratches. This switch is to let you know that while Kendrick lives in a very confusing world where he is used as a political football, etc he will never be drowned out by it. Same reason Ice Cube called his first song The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit.

Ice Cube-Wrong Nigga To Fuck Wit

Kendrick Lamar-DNA

Second Step: Takedown

Ice Cube tried to be nice on Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.  He didn’t spend a second on N.W.A.  After Niggaz4Life (where N.W.A. feverishly threw shots left, right and center) Cube had no choice and took command of the music industry for the next five years with the most unforgiving diss premise of all time. On No Vaseline he is saying you are being raped without lubricant and I am not.

If Kendrick had a No Vaseline moment it was probably that Control verse. He did bring that back in the lead up to this album, The Heart Part 4 with the second verse “My fans can’t wait for me to son ya punk ass and crush ya whole lil shit. I’ll Big Pun ya punk-ass, you scared lil’ bitch. Tiptoein’ around my name, nigga, you lame and when I get at you, homie. Don’t you just tell me you was just playin'” Kendrick doesn’t think of the rap world as full of people individually important enough to diss. He has his reasons.

Ice Cube-No Vaseline

Kendrick Lamar-The Heart Part 4

Kendrick Lamar-Control

Third Step: Vision

Ice Cube was consumed with correcting the perception of blackness. His second verse on True To The Game is absolutely the father of a lot of discussion on DAMN.

“When you first start rhyming It started off slow and then you start climbing But it wasn’t fast enough I guess So you gave your other style a test You was hardcore hip-hop Now look at yourself, boy you done flip-flopped Giving our music away to the mainstream Don’t you know they ain’t down with the team They just sent they boss over Put a bug in your ear and now you crossed over On MTV but they don’t care They’ll have a new nigga next year You out in the cold No more white fans and no more soul And you might have a heart attack When you find out the black folks don’t want you back And you know what’s worse? You was just like the nigga in the first verse Stop selling out your race And wipe that stupid-ass smile off your face Niggas always gotta show they teeth Now I’m a be brief Be true to the game”

1991 Ice Cube wanted to be in control of every aspect of his presentation and was very frustrated by people who just didn’t have the determination to shoulder that responsibility. Kendrick talks about this on verse 2 of Feel “I feel like debating on who the greatest can stop it. I am legend, I feel like all of y’all is peasants. I feel like all of y’all is desperate.” The lesson to learn from DAMN is the one rap learned from Cube in 1991. The best rapper is not that because of pure mic skill. The best rapper in the world has command and vision. The best rapper gives you vulnerable personal experiences like Cube on Doing Dumb Shit and Kendrick on Duckworth.  Political messages might be overt or laced inside the songs but the total concept and vision will be challenging even if it offends you sometimes. The best rapper brings his own sound to the table (Sir Jinx for Cube, Sounwave for Kendrick).

Ice Cube-True To The Game

Kendrick Lamar-Feel

Nihilism in Rap Music: 2pac Shakur-Me Against The World

by Dan-O

This is more of an FYI. I don’t like to bother freemusicempire readers with my other projects but I do co-host a philosophy podcast called The Overly Examined Life where we take subjects in real life that may not be deeply analyzed and fully explore them. Nihilism in Rap was really my baby and it was such a good chance to explore a really special album for the genre and for the American experience. We talk about the album, its connection to the rigged American dream, the legacy of Pac and the connection we all have to him. I recommend going on the whole journey, even a hardcore hip hop fan might end up surprised.




FREE ALBUM REVIEW- Run The Jewels 2 by El-P x Killer Mike

FREE ALBUM REVIEW- Run The Jewels 2 by El-P x Killer Mike

by Dan-O

Everyone has come up to me the last few weeks asking what I think of the event album Run The Jewels 2. Honestly, I had no idea what to say but at this point I’m willing to take a go at it. This is how a major rap album event used to feel. When the old dogs snicker because Lil B compared himself to 2pac or Joell Ortiz put on his Big Pun comparison again it’s because we know the difference. A new Scarface album, a new Public Enemy or Ice Cube album felt this way. They were always straightforward and in your face; none of this crying in your coffee introspection. Not only were they chest thumping power assertions but necessarily filled with depth. Balance of content was not a gift but an expectation. Run The Jewels 2 has all the electricity, power, meaning and sneering joy of the first track of those old Ice Cube albums. It maintains that all the way through the eleven tracks available for free.

I made the mistake of calling the first Run The Jewels a mixtape and El-P corrected me on twitter. I’m seeing things his way now. Nothing on this feels as off-the-cuff-lets-try-it as a mixtape does; this is an album. The growth from that first collection of music to this one is substantial. While my favorite track is the adrenaline jolt first song Jeopardy which kicks off what I’m calling the most beautiful fight music in recorded history; you could easily make a case for any of the others. Lie, Cheat, Steal a is frank and intelligent discussion of what power means. Blockbuster Night p. 1 is two brilliant minds word game rapping back and forth with unparalleled acuity.

The lesson I learned from the first release was that Killer Mike really is better than your (mine as well) favorite rapper. This time out it’s the depth and beauty of El-P’s production. The sonic universe of to-the-hilt bass and twisted industrial influence is so large and rich it encompasses space enough for Gangsta Boo and Zack De La Rocha to lay the most successful guest verses of the year. Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) is a rampage made perfect anarchy by Zack’s looped voice in perpetual motion on the chorus. His guest verse makes all Rage Against The Machine fans smile ear to ear. Like seeing an ex looking as good as they ever did and thinking…that was one bad MF. Love Again (Akinyele Back) is brash and sexual with a throttling back beat that Boo lays into. While Love Again is sexual braggadocio and has a chorus about putting genitals in your mates mouth all day it adeptly sidesteps any insulting imagery. I’ve never heard El-P do a verse about sexuality as lovingly as the one on Love Again and it goes to show the influence these two artists have had on one another.

I’m a little tired of reading Run The Jewels reviews about how weird it is that Mike and El have this chemistry. How different their worlds are. It feels a little insulting. A lot of the worst collaborations in hip hop are done by best friends from similar environments with lots of commonalities. These two make each other better. Who cares how that fits into their “cultural” backgrounds? Mike is a sparkplug, lightning rod rapper who pushes El to open up things in ways he wouldn’t otherwise. What they’ve made sounds larger than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and has the strength to last longer. It shouldn’t shock you to hear El-P scream out tribute to Pimp C it should shock you that these two artists are so much better than you thought they were. Don’t be shocked if their next project is better. Trust these dudes.

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Mixtape Review- Alley Shakur: The Soul of a Runaway Slave by Alley Boy

Mixtape Review- Alley Shakur: The Soul of a Runaway Slave by Alley Boy

by Dan-O

I think a lot of us are conditioned (through Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix examples) to believe that our most important artists burn brightly for a short moment and then leave the stage forever. It’s only as you get older that you realize how much better a career Audrey Hepburn had than Marilyn Monroe. At this stage a lot of my favorite artists are like Alley Boy not bound to burn the brightest but like a subway train there whenever I need him with the ability to get me where I need to be.

Alley Boy churns out mixtape after mixtape with startling consistency and ferocity. On his new mixtape Alley Shakur we aren’t even out of the Intro before he’s threatening to piss on his opponent’s graves and do physical harm to their children. Everyone prizes the good old fashioned NY Goon music well this is Atlanta Goon music, twenty one tracks of it. While its hardcore it doesn’t fit the bounce of the Trap movement and its too focused and lyrical to be Atlanta Pop Rap.

The connection this mixtape has to 2pac Shakur is supposed to be his seething anger and pursuit of truth but I don’t think that’s really it. All the interludes woven into the project lead us there but in reality Pac was the type of dude that made every song important and Alley wants to connect to his audience like that. Back when I was in the military during down times we would all put our headphones on and sing Hail Mary together in 2pac voice…it sounds silly now but it wasn’t, the song meant a lot to us. While Alley’s fantastically satisfying chanting on For The High captivates and demands re-listening I can’t even fathom Alley getting to that level. Partially because music doesn’t work like that anymore, we have so much of it we don’t attend it as well as we used too. Partially because Alley isn’t willing to get very personal on his music; try to find anything on Wholes or Too Many that’s personal beyond personally threatening.

Starlito, Kevin Gates, and Trey Songz don’t feature on talentless artists projects though. Alley Boy can switch from a song about hitting on a lady (Come On Over) to how wonderful he is (Great) and not betray his sensibilities while making them all fun. I couldn’t find production credits but all these tracks bounce and warrant copious bow throwing while containing admirable lyrical dexterity. Celebration uses the finger snap DJ Mustard feel, When I Ride could be on Jeezy’s first album. Alley Shakur is long but doesn’t feel like it because within the twenty one tracks we get a lot of different shades of the ATL goon sound.

It makes perfect sense that Alley was one of the guys Master P grabbed up when he re-emerged as his old self. No Limit was built on a roster of minor miracle artists that could absolutely kill verses, tracks, even albums while staying in the background waiting for their time. The theme of Alley Shakur is Alley asking when his time is. No matter when that is, a lot of people respect his grind.

download or stream Alley Shakur below: