2PAC

Pac's Life
Amaru/Interscope

Every syllable Tupac Shakur uttered near a microphone constitutes a potential sample, and a decade after he hit the grave, his estate's caretakers are still finding ways to turn old recordings into "new" songs. But while the latest posthumous Shakur disc should enhance his brand, it diminishes his legacy by turning him into the equivalent of Disneyland's robot Abe Lincoln -- a once-independent figure now totally under the control of others.

Thanks to Swizz Beatz's slick remixing and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's rapping, "Untouchable" doesn't really need Shakur; he's essentially superfluous. Ditto for the rendition of the title cut featuring Snoop Dogg, T.I. and Chris Starr; with so many living performers fighting for the spotlight, the dead guy doesn't stand a chance. Not that he expresses any complaints. "Playa Cardz Right" appears in a "female" version starring Keyshia Cole and a "male" counterpart headlined by Ludacris, yet Shakur sounds the same on both. That's professionalism, cadaver style.

Without Pac's death, Pac's Life would never have existed. Too bad the gunman was such a good shot.

 
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