More than three years after his death, it's difficult to believe there's still unreleased 2Pac material out there, much less quality material. After no less than three posthumous albums built around what 2Pac produced when he was still alive (plus an assortment of bootlegs making the rounds), the well apparently still hasn't run dry, and Still I Rise is the inevitable result. As on the Notorious B.I.G. album released just weeks before though, there are some pretty wide gaps on Still I Rise between rhymes actually delivered by 2Pac. There's also an undeniable -- some would say obvious -- impression that this album just doesn't bear the mark of 2Pac himself.
Making up the difference in both categories is Outlawz, a quartet of rappers keeping the flow going between 2Pac fragments. As with 2Pac's other posthumous releases, Still I Rise comes with four or five solid tracks that may have survived the cuts on a real 2Pac album. The title track and "Letter to the President" are obvious winners, still reliant on the syrupy G-funk that 2Pac made famous, and (thankfully) not influenced by the increasing late-'90s insurgence of muzaky hip-hop productions. And "Baby Don't Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II)" -- 2Pac's self-produced follow-up to 1993's "Keep Ya Head Up" -- is a surprisingly touching message track. For any of 2Pac's fans, it'll be so good to hear his voice again on new material that the cash-in nature of Still I Rise can easily be overlooked. It's just not the album 2Pac would have produced had he still been alive.