10 Posthumous Tupac Shakur Songs That Were Better As Makaveli Bootlegs
We know there's a lot of writing here. If you skip the history lesson and jump to the list at the bottom of the page -- we'll understand .
Everyone knows that Tupac Shakur left behind a wealth of unreleased material when he died. What you may not know is that a lot of his then-unreleased music was changed drastically before its eventual release. Here is a list of 10 songs that that had better original versions, but were changed before officially being released.
I remember hearing MTV News anchor Kurt Loder report that Tupac had something like 125 complete, unreleased studio recordings in 1996. Being a huge fan of Tupac was not easy at that time -- he had just been murdered at the height of his career, but the news that there was plenty more on the horizon gave me hope.
I then began seeking out these unreleased tracks, which was way more difficult in 1996 than it is today. There were no BitTorrent or quick file-sharing sites to rely on, and the ones that did exist would sometimes take a week to download one song. No, in those days you had to seek out bootlegs. This meant finding the cool record store in town or heading to hood in the nearest major city and buying them from a street vendor. Truth is, I did a combination of both and within a year of Tupac's death, I had aquired many of his unreleased tracks from the Death Row era in the form of Makaveli bootlegs.
In the years following, a few Tupac albums of new material were released, causing everyone to say "Tupac is still alive!" and ask "How's he making new music if he's dead?" Well, he wasn't. I knew that because I had heard most of that "new material" already. The reaction I had to those releases was very different. I was saying things like "What the f--- did they to this song? That's not the right beat. There were different rappers on this before," etc.
I never got definitive answers to those questions, although I know the rights to his catalog were in some mucky legal territory. His mother, Afeni Shakur, had won the rights to his unreleased music shortly after his death, but then there was the issue of who actually owned the beats, the music, etc. Also, a lot of those tracks featured many guest artists, which complicated legal matters even further. Plus, Tupac hyped Death Row so hard in almost all of those tunes, it would be a little awkward to release them on a different label. So in some cases, what was released was completely different than it was originally recorded.
You could tell some of these songs found on the Makaveli bootlegs had throwaway beats or "scratch tracks" in place just so Pac could demo them and some of those were actually improved before being officially released years later. On the other side of that coin were the fully realized songs that bore almost no resemblance to the original when they finally hit stores.
One of the things that made Tupac such a great rapper -- and this is evidenced in a lot of those unreleased songs that initially had guest rappers and wonky beats -- was his ability to make a beat work. You would hear one of these Makaveli bootleg tracks where the Outlawz would rap before Tupac over a beat that felt really out of place. Then Tupac would come in and his delivery would change the entire feel of the song and all of a sudden -- it made perfect sense. Unfortunately, a lot of that magic was stripped from too many of his unreleased tracks.
Below is a list of 10 songs that were way better in their original form.
'Don't Go 2 Sleep'Featuring Outlawz
Oddly enough, this song was strip-mined and different parts of it were used for two similarly titled songs on the 2006 'Pac's Life' album. The released version -- titled 'Sleep' -- had Tupac's parts from the original, but with different rappers and a different beat. Some of his vocals from the original track were also used on 'Don't Sleep' from that same album.
'Runnin' On E'Featuring Outlawz
I know this is a minor issue, but they removed the Italian guitar (or whatever the hell that instrument is) during the verses on the 'Until the End of Time' release and the song just sounds so empty without it. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.
I actually quite like the version of this that appears on 'Until the End of Time,' but I like the original version better.
'Fright Night'Featuring Storm
This is one of those songs that didn't really vibe with the new beat they placed under it. Storm didn't appear on the 'Better Dayz' version titled 'Whatcha Gonna Do,' but at least they replaced her with the Outlawz instead of someone Tupac would never work with like they did for elsewhere on that album (see the 'Thugz Mansion' acoustic remix for that).
'U Can Be Touched'Featuring Outlawz
They actually improved everything about this song for the version that appeared on Tupac + Outlawz 'Still I Rise' except one pretty important aspect -- they removed Tupac's verse and only kept his hook. Thus, they failed.
'Secrets of War'Featuring Outlawz
'Secretz of War' was eventually released as part of the 'Tupac Resurrection' soundtrack, but the mid 90s West Coast party beat was replaced by something that sounded like a cross between the 'Cocktail' soundtrack and that song 'Under the Sea' from 'The Little Mermaid.'
'This Life I Lead'Featuring Gonzo, Daz, Kurupt and Nutso
This one is one of my absolute favorites from the Makaveli bootlegs and so much of that had to do with the music. The new beat used for the 'Better Dayz' version completely changed the feel of the song for the worse. I couldn't tell you if they changed anything else, because I can't listen to more than 20 seconds of the officially released version.
'When We Ride On Our Enemies'
Damn they butchered this thing for its official release on 2002's 'Better Dayz.' West Coast hip hop of the 90s has a very classic sound. A good chunk of 2pac's unreleased stuff had that feel to it in its original state, this song being a prime example of that. When you replace that with a beat that sounds like 2002 -- a largely unremarkable period in rap -- you strip away that classic feel, thus ending with a mediocre track. It's the equivalent of taking Al Green's vocals from 'Let's Stay Together' and letting Nickelback re-record the music. It's just unforgivable.
'Still I Rise'Featuring Outlawz
Even though this song surfaced as the title track of the 1999 2Pac + Outlawz album, the music was unrecognizable and the 'All Eyez on Me' sample of Big Syke that served as the hook was replaced by gospel-y signing that felt very forced. None of the new stuff worked very well, basically.
'Confessions'Featuring Bizzy Bone
The original version of this had a long, fairly unnecessary intro and only contains about 2:45 of actual song. All of it is amazing though. Based on subject matter alone, it's tough to tell if Bizzy Bone's verse and Pac's were even intended for the same song... but damn they sound good together. Only Tupac's parts showed up in the inferior reboot known as 'Breathin' on 'Until the End of Time.'