DVD Reveiw

Steve Hammer

Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg

Live at the House of Blues

Death Row/Eagle

The short but prolific career of Tupac Shakur has been well-documented on disc and video since his death on Sept. 13, 1996. With at least a dozen posthumous albums and several documentaries, including the Academy Award-nominated Resurrection, there's no shortage of Tupac material on the market.

He's sold more than 40 million albums, acted in seven films and left behind hundreds of unreleased songs and his "new" albums always debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, so it seems the public's appetite for Tupac has yet to be satiated. He still tops all polls for "favorite rapper" and "greatest all-time rapper."

Now comes Live at the House of Blues, his final recorded appearance, taped in Los Angeles on July 4, 1996. Unlike many posthumous 'Pac recordings, this one is well worth purchasing, both for the quality of the performances and the bonus music videos.

Unlike his archrival Biggie Smalls, who was a captivating live performer, Shakur was erratic on stage. He was either in top form or too intoxicated to rap. But this show features 'Pac in his best, most furious form, spitting out verses with venom and then showing his softer, more compassionate side.

The songs here come from his Death Row era, with "Ambitions as a Ridah" and "All About You" being the highlights. Between songs, he throws lighter fuel on the feud between himself and Biggie, with the dis song "Hit 'Em Up," the culmination of the set. K-Ci and Jo-Jo join him for "How Do You Want It" for an amazing performance, joined by the Outlawz. A previously unreleased song, "Tattoo Tears," is done with passion and frenzy.

Shakur then leaves the stage for Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound, who run through a very long set. Snoop looks astonishingly young and, if anything, outperforms Shakur. Drawing on songs from his first two albums, Snoop does an amazing job on "Murder Was the Case," "The Shiznit" and "Who Am I." He's joined by Kurupt, Daz and the rest of the Dogg Pound.

For the finale of the show, Shakur and the Outlawz reappear to join Snoop on "2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted," perhaps the best performance on the disc. After the song, 'Pac and Snoop embrace each other in a very emotional moment. The two would never perform together again.

Appended to the concert are several of Shakur's music videos, none of which have been released on DVD before. "To Live and Die in L.A." is a party, with Shakur riding in a convertible through Compton accompanied not only by the usual video hotties but also Shakur's own children. "I Ain't Mad At 'Cha," filmed a month before his death, depicts Shakur's murder and ascension into heaven, where he meets Miles Davis, Redd Foxx, Jimi Hendrix and others. He also visits his grieving family and friends and assures them he's doing well.

The video for "California Love" is not the post-apocalyptic one normally shown, but an alternate version depicting 'Pac and Dr. Dre poolside with plenty of honeys, more appropriate for the song. Finally, the "Hit 'Em Up" video, in which 'Pac eviscerates Biggie, although a wonderful performance, is also sad, considering what followed. The Outlawz, one of the most underrated rap crews ever, are in top form. Kadafi, Kastro and Hussein, the colorfully named members of the group, take the reins and make the song a classic.

At a bargain price of $11.99, the DVD is a no-brainer for fans of 'Pac and Snoop and anyone else who appreciates live, raw hip-hop. With only one posthumous album left to come, the output of Tupac Shakur is almost complete. Luckily, with this DVD and his albums, his legacy will live on for decades.

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