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Loyal to the Game

2Pac

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Album Review

Loyal to the Game, the ninth 2Pac album released by his enterprising mother-turned-executive producer, Afeni Shakur, is one of the more unique entries in the martyred rap legend's extensive catalog. Produced entirely by Eminem, it carries on with the approach the man otherwise known as Marshall Mathers took with his production contributions to the preceding year's Tupac: Resurrection. Eminem had produced a few songs on that soundtrack, most notably the landmark 2Pac-Biggie duet "Runnin' (Dying to Live)," and his work here on Loyal to the Game isn't too much of a departure from the style of that song. In the wake of that song's popularity, Afeni gave Eminem some old tapes, and he went to work, stripping them of their productions, giving them his own trademark backing (characterized by his style of punchy, syncopated, unfunky beatmaking), incorporating some guest raps for secondary verses, and polishing them off with various sorts of hooks. Eminem's efforts here work, even if they aren't ideal. On the one hand, there's no questioning Em's integrity. He pens some reverent liner notes, explaining his position (or justifying it, depending on your viewpoint), and Afeni also pens some touching liners, likewise explaining why Eminem, of all people, gets the green light to produce this album in its entirety. And Em doesn't take his job here lightly. His beats hit hard and are well crafted, most similar to his more hardcore self-productions like "Mosh" or "Lose Yourself." His hooks are also well crafted: he takes the hook himself on "Soldier Like Me"; brings in 50 Cent and Nate Dogg for "Loyal to the Game" and "Thugs Get Lonely Too," respectively; samples Elton John ("Indian Sunset"), Curtis Mayfield ("If There's a Hell Below"), and Dido ("Do You Have a Little Time") for other songs, and he lets 2Pac handle his own hooks elsewhere.

On the other, more cynical hand, Eminem simply isn't a good fit, and the four bonus tracks here testify to what could have been. Produced by Scott Storch, Red Spyda, Raphael Saadiq, and DJ Quik, these bonus track "remixes" are clearly the highlights of the album (and quite fantastic highlights at that, perhaps reason enough alone to pick up this album). These guys produce beats much more fitting to 2Pac's rhyme style. Sure, Eminem is a great producer, but he produces these 2Pac tracks as if he were producing himself, and 2Pac is a much different breed of rapper than Slim Shady, especially in terms of cadence and delivery. This is all the more evident because the source tapes of these tracks date back to the early '90s, when 2Pac was at his funkiest and least hardcore. (While the dates aren't provided in the credits, the original producers are credited: Randy "Stretch" Walker, DJ Daryl, Live Squad, and Deon Evans, all of whom worked with 2Pac during his early years, namely the early '90s, just as he was leaving Digital Underground and getting his career off the ground. Various time-specific references within 2Pac's lyrics are further evidence of this, such as passing references to the L.A. riots.) How much Loyal to the Game ultimately appeals to you will likely depend on how much you like Eminem. After all, this is as much his album as 2Pac's — a labor of love, no doubt. If you're fond of his lock-step beatmaking and big hooks, you'll find much to like here, for 2Pac's rhymes are undoubtedly fascinating in any context, even at this early stage of his career. [Interscope released a clean edition of Loyal to the Game in conjunction with its standard edition. While there's not too much profanity here to clean up, this edition indeed does its duty in earnest.]

Customer Reviews

2pac =''/

I love 2pac, he's the best rapper. He doesn't talk random crap like what other rappers writes. His songs have meanings and it's true. He puts hard work on all of his songs. He should be very proud. 2pac R.I.P.

loyal to the game

got to luv tupac by this album

My Fav. Song!!!

Loyal to the Game is my favorite song ever!!

Biography

Born: June 16, 1971 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s

2Pac became the unlikely martyr of gangsta rap, and a tragic symbol of the toll its lifestyle exacted on urban black America. At the outset of his career, it didn't appear that he would emerge as one of the definitive rappers of the '90s — he started out as a second-string rapper and dancer for Digital Underground, joining only after they had already landed their biggest hit. But in 1991, he delivered an acclaimed debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, and quickly followed with a star-making performance...
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