Music

2Pac ft. Dr. Dre - "California Love" (Singles Going Steady Classic)

"California Love" is what you get when you mix one of the greatest West Coast rappers with West Coast's greatest producer, and then bring in funk legend Roger Troutman for safe measure.

Emmanuel Elone: "California Love" is what you get when you mix one of the greatest West Coast rappers with West Coast's greatest producer, and then bring in funk legend Roger Troutman for safe measure. On this single for his double album All Eyez on Me, 2Pac's verse is an ode to the state that raised him, the same one that gave rise to NWA and the G-Funk hip-hop that Dr. Dre both created and mastered. Twenty years later, Kendrick Lamar, who actually was at the shooting for the "California Love" music video as an infant, continues to carry the West Coast torch that refuses to die out. On "m.A.A.d. City", Kendrick raps about his life in Compton (particularly Rosecrans) and how he almost died when he smoked his first blunt that was laced with Angel Dust. It's similar to much of 2Pac's catalog, with a social message that's carried through a gritty, G-Funk banger. Like 2Pac did in his heyday, Kendrick Lamar is revitalizing and evolving West Coast hip-hop, and one can only wish that 2Pac were still alive to see it all unfold as it has. [10/10]

Pryor Stroud: 2Pac had just been been released from prison when "California Love" was released in 1995, and his verse, the second in the track behind Dr. Dre, is a jail door blown off by sheer lyrical pressure. He doesn't glide over the beat, or even interact with it, he stomps straight across it, his muscular, fist-clenching flow dictating the song's direction rather than the other way around. [9/10]

Ian King: With all due respect to Nastradamus, it has come to pass that Tupac Shakur is, as The Source pointed out last year, the more prominent hip hop prophet. In addition to The Source's examples, Shakur's time-tested and spot-on assertions about current presidential candidate Donald Trump have been making the rounds recently. Let's add "California Love" to that unfurling scroll. Not only did this enduring West Coast anthem predict the nation's shift between the '90s and now from morbid fascination to fondness for the Golden State, Shakur's own geographical history -- his childhood in Harlem to his family's relocation to the Bay Area when he was in high school -- reflects the current migration of the young, hip, and creative from New York to Los Angeles in particular. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: A lot of hip-hop fails to age well after a decade or two, but fortunately, this mostly holds up; if anything, it’s an accurate snapshot of the mid-‘90s. Pairing contemporary rhymes with Roger Troutman’s retro talk-box sounds like a shaky concept, but it works, and 2Pac’s expert rhyming is a painful reminder of a potent voice silenced too soon. [8/10]

Chad Miller: Roger Troutman's Talk Box melody was super infectious, and I loved that alien sound in the back. The rapping here is excellent too. Some of the references might not have aged well or maybe I'm just especially uncultured, but either way it didn't detract much for me. A wonderful party anthem. [9/10]

SCORE: 8.60


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.