Better Dayz

2Pac

Amaru/Death Row/Interscope, 2002

http://www.2pac.com

REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/18/2006

The fact that Tupac came out with a double album six years after his death is remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is that this was not his first album since his death; actually, it’s not even his first double album. Double albums are a nightmare in hip-hop; too many artists attempt them and very few succeed. But Tupac is one of the few rappers to have pulled off such a task with the classic All Eyez On Me, so going into this album I knew if anyone could pull it off, it would be him.

Better Dayz is pretty much filled with three different types of songs: songs for the community, songs for the thugs, and songs for the bedroom. The problem with this is, especially on a double album, many times throughout the album you will ask yourself, “Haven’t I heard this before?” Two times you will actually be correct, because for some reason the powers at be decided to include two versions of “Thugz Mansion” and “Fair Xchange.” The two versions are so much alike there is absolutely no point in including both. Another problem with this album is that the songs for the community and the songs for the thugs often contradict each other. This prevents Tupac’s positive message from really getting out there; on “Changed Man,” for example, his claims of being changed are at odds with the other tales of drug deals, killing and disrespecting women. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Most of the weaker tracks seem to be on the second disc;  by disc two, the material becomes repetitive. Songs like “Fame,” “Catching Feelings,” “This Life I Lead” and “They Don’t Give A Fuck About Us” are all on the second disc, are all directed towards the thugs, all feature the mediocre Outlawz, and are all way too similar.

Yet Tupac does succeed when delivering to thugs on “Still Ballin’,” “When We Ride On Our Enemies” and “Street Fame.” “When We Ride” is a vicious Fugees and Mobb Deep diss that leaves the listener charged and could pump adrenaline through a 90-year-old. Also, “U Can Call” and both versions of “Fair Xchange” are very similar sexual rants, reminiscent of “Temptations” but are not as clever or as laid back. Both “U Can Call” and the first version of “Fair Xchange” have excellent beats from Jazze Pha and include explicit descriptive lyrics of Tupac’s bedroom explorations. These songs work because of Tupac’s passionate delivery and bravado, which virtually no other MC can reproduce.

And what of the community songs? Tupac shines here.  “Mama’s Just A Little Girl” is a touching narrative about teenage pregnancy in the hood, while “My Block” is the best song on this album and contains a beautiful underwhelming beat by Frank Nitty accompanied by a moving children’s choir. Tupac’s lyrics are very reflective and display his intelligence and ability to analyze his surroundings; delivering a powerful four verses full of ghetto introspection and passion, “My Block” is the only song on this album that really could compete with his career highlights.

This album runs into the pitfalls of the majority of hip-hop double albums. It contains too much filler, too many guest appearances and average production. Better Dayz lacks the fluid crisp sound of All Eyez On Me and the classic introspection of Me Against The World. Tupac’s legacy to hip-hop heads and his commercial fan base will always be those two records, making this one a must-own for fans only.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Ben Ehrenreich and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Amaru/Death Row/Interscope, and is used for informational purposes only.