Novakane doesn't really depart far from what the Outlawz accomplished a year earlier on their debut album, Ride Wit Us or Collide Wit Us. And that may please listeners, but more likely it should dishearten them. After all, despite their career-establishing affiliation with 2Pac, the Outlawz never really proved to be the protégés they should have been. 2Pac had gone out of his way to establish the group just before his untimely death, yet the Outlawz never really lived up to expectations. This became glaringly evident on Ride Wit Us, when the best they could really do was imitate 2Pac and carry on this legacy through derivative means -- and they didn't even do that well. But to their credit, the Outlawz do keep their music street and maintain a hardcore thug approach, something which should no doubt appeal to fans of underground West Coast hardcore rap. So, as mentioned, Novakane doesn't really depart from the group's debut album. They're still going to lengths to impress listeners with their gangsta-isms, still trying to confront listeners with their street-level lifestyle, and still mentioning 2Pac's name more than they probably should. Unfortunately, the beats aren't quite on par here with their debut album -- one possible saving grace gone sour. So if these things are added up -- derivative rhymes that rarely depart from clichéd clichés delivered with lackluster skills over generic-at-best beats -- one can come to the saddening conclusion that despite how many times the Outlawz tell listeners that they were down with 2Pac, little separates them from the standard subpar West Coast gangsta rappers. After two albums it's safe to say, like many other individuals in the rap industry, the Outlawz have exploited 2Pac's lucrative legacy for their own benefit. Don't believe the hype -- the 2Pac affiliation is all that separates these guys from the pack, or so it seems at this point.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Blanche Napolean