Review Summary: Makaveli to the rescue.
2Pac’s invention of a group he called “Thug Life” stands as his best work at that time since his debut (2Pacolaypse Now). Although this album is under the moniker of 2Pac, it really isn’t only him involved. Thug Life consists of Tupac Shakur, Big Syke, Macadoshis, Mopreme Shakur (of relation), and Rated R. ‘Volume 1’ was their first release and unfortunately only for the Shakurs and co. ‘Volume 1’ was originally intended to be released under 2Pac’s label named Out The Gutta, but they had to scrap most of the original version due to heavy criticism within the media on the self-proclaimed nature of gangsta rap. Even with most of the original being scrapped (some say they are unreleased) ‘Volume 1’ packs a huge punch with each individual contributing to some extent.
With so many contributors on one album, which include the producers on each track the album becomes very diverse. The main constant on most of this album is by far 2Pac at the helm of each track; nearly every track on this album involves 2Pac, except “Don’t Get It Twisted” and “Street Fame”. Most of the album really has a soulful feel to it. The opener “Bury Me A G” features the entire cast with Natasha Walker contributing for the backing vocals. The track is given lots of diversity; each member has a distinct voice which makes it interesting and fresh.
The main verse:
“I ain’t got time for bitches
gotta keep my mind on my motha***en riches
even when I die
Momma don’t cry
bury me a g”;
The background music that is involved with this track has a nice calm atmosphere that makes it extremely easy-going.
“Don’t Get Twisted” is the only track that doesn’t involve Tupac, surprisingly it works well. Mopreme Shakur, Macadoshis, and Rated R discuss the intricacies of being a ‘thug’ as a 24-7 ordeal. This type of shift from the intro to a lot more aggressive vocal style and beats does make it a bit difficult to appreciate. Fortunately it gets easier as the track goes through. More laid back tracks such as “Pour Out A Little Liquor”, “How Long Will They Mourn Me”, and “Cradle To The Grave” are masterful with their political, social, and gangster-affiliated problems involved for each member.
Volume 1 has a mixture of ‘soft’ lyrical content about problems; others that involve aggression for the most part fail. 2Pac is obviously the best rapper in the entire group as the album showcases through and through. “Under Pressure” is the best aggressive track within the album and 2Pac leads through the most of the song except for the main lyric line that’s sung by Stretch:
"When tha Pressures on it's a hit
bring tha clips
don't nobody move when we walk tha streets
they stay silent
cause talk is cheap”
There are a few major problems in this album, mostly the production. Since there are different producers involved in this such as Thug Music, Jay & Mopreme (of the group), Johnny “J”, Nate Dogg & Warren G, Jay Choi and Big Syke, Easy Mo Bee, and Stretch. Obviously, this causes a bit of an inconsistency within the music. “*** Don’t Stop” involves a good lyrical vocal performance by various contributors and female background vocals, the beat well…it’s a bit to be desired. It gets redundant and quite boring. “Street Fame” is really hindered by the absence of 2Pac leading the charge and the other members have a difficult opening. The vocals are muffled and inattentive, along with an odd bass noise by producer Stretch it’s just a mediocre track compared to the previous before it.
Thug Life’s ‘Volume 1’ showed that 2Pac could carry an entire group in most cases. Other members involved in tracks contribute extremely well when 2Pac leads the pack. Volume 1’s only probably appears rarely where 2Pac is absent or the production fails miserably to carry the vocal performances of the tracks. “*** Don’t Stop” and “Street Fame” are extremely perfect examples of how things just don’t work. For the most part Thug Life’s first effort and only known in existence is excellent. Not exactly adding to the diversity of hip-hop or “gangster rap” at the time, but still contributing to its relatively soon-to-be mainstream breakthrough. Topics discussing death, friends, family, pride, drugs, and general social problems associated with being trapped in the lower class are discussed.
Bury Me A G
How Long Will They Mourn Me"