Outlawz

Ride Wit Us or Collide Wit Us

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About all anyone could say about the Outlawz when they dropped their debut album in late 2000 was that they used to be down with 2Pac. Of course, lots of people were down with 2Pac -- though the legend's career ultimately ended prematurely, he'd collaborated with much of the West Coast, particularly on All Eyez on Me, which featured nearly every significant West Coast rapper and producer. But more than any of 2Pac's collaborators, the Outlawz went out of their way to make a career out of their affiliation with 2Pac, even going so far as to feature his image on the cover of their debut album. And perhaps the Outlawz really can't be blamed. After all, excluding their affiliation with 2Pac, they really didn't have much going for them. In fact, it took nearly five years before they even so much as released their own album. It took that long for a reason, though: They aren't that impressive of a group, to be quite frank. And Ride Wit Us or Collide Wit Us makes that fairly evident. They managed to score producer Mike Dean of Geto Boys fame for some beats, but even that can't save this album. Ultimately, the Outlawz are little more than standard-at-best West Coast hardcore rappers. They act all gangsta like 2Pac and forever claim that they keep it real and that they're thugs and that you shouldn't f*ck with them and that they're keeping 2Pac's legacy going and so on and so on. In sum, they spout unending hyperbole and they don't particularly spout it well. But ardent 2Pac admirers who don't mind the fact that this is second-rate, if not third-rate, West Coast thug rap modeled largely after 2Pac's work should by all means give these guys a chance. Their intentions seem in place, at the least. They're loyal to 2Pac's legacy and go out of their way to keep things hard, even if they don't really offer anything overly enticing and are derivative at best.

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