Track of the Week: Revolution by 2Pac

We return to some raw rap for this week’s Track of the Week, Revolution by 2Pac, off of the Rap Phenomenon II Mix Tape by DJ Vlad, Dirty Harry, DJ Green Lantern.

It’s hard to find any real authoritative information on this mixtape. From what I know, it’s a collaboration of DJ Vlad, Dirty Harry and Green Lantern to do a tribute to 2Pac’s career. My exposure to the mixtape came via @airlai, who sent it to me in 2007 or so.

It’s the second of two mixtapes, the first of which was a tribute to Biggie. While most of the mixtape is good, this track is great. Angry, raw, powerful and mixed masterfully with new vocals by Busta Rhymes, this song as far as I know does not appear anywhere in 2Pac’s catalog. It’s a composite of spoken word, prior raps and never-before-heard raps from 2Pac.

The song is mixed over Puff Daddy’s Victory (the first line of the melody is Biggie rapping “one, one two, check me out right here”) and opens with 2Pac speaking about gangs in America and the government’s involvement in distributing crack to the ghettos. The content of the raps is most centrally themed about life in the ghetto and wanting a revolution to make things better. 2Pac admonishes his peers for living a “cartoon life”. He closes his raps with this spoken verse:

“Now if we do want to live a thug life and a gansta life, and all of that, ok. So stop being cowards and let’s have a revolution. But we don’t wanna do that, dudes just wanna live of character / they wanna be cartoons.”

As I listen through the song, it’s one of the most powerful, makes-you-want-to-break-doors-down anger fueling 2Pac tracks (or mixes) I’ve ever heard. Chris Rock had commented on the album, “It’s ultimate fighting music. You will kill somebody listening to this sh*t.”