As someone who remembers when Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes first rapped, “Dreams are hopeless aspirations in hopes of coming true/ Believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you,” the news of a posthumous album by the femcee was greeted with significant skepticism. And why not? Tupac‘s legacy continues to be tarnished by subpar releases, let alone Mr. Wallace‘s Duets atrocity. Let’s face it; the game is greedy, and many will do anything for a quick buck, which has led to dozens of awful albums. Fortunately, Left Eye‘s second solo album is neither a ploy to make some wallets fatter (a portion of the proceeds go to Lopes‘ charity for Honduran children), and it manages to be an artistic success – though not without faults.
Anyone expecting an album filled with club-friendly tracks would be sorely mistaken – and obviously unfamiliar with the sort of artist Left Eye was. The sole member of TLC to disagree with the group’s choice of going with the smash hit “Creep” as a lead single due to its message, Lopes‘ conscious side shines through in Eye Legacy. Lisa wastes no time delving into introspective subject matter on “Spread Your Wings,” where she offers advice to others, in hopes that they don’t through the same public controversies she did: “Every time you digress / Defeat your progress / Feed you knowledge, but you must digest / The controversy, yo, can get personal / They don’t understand till the role reversal / Seekin’ fame, play their games / Gave a whole lot for a whole little gain / Push comes to shove / Do you push or shove? / When the choice is yours / Do you leave or you love? / All the tears you cried, you’re dyin’ inside / When will you decide to survive?”
The inspirational material continues with “In the Life,” which features former DTP act Bobby Valentino [click to read]. A shrewder fan may recognize the lyrics from “Legendary,” which rehashes the words from “Untouchable” off of Left Eye‘s previous album, Supernova. In fact, a great number of these songs (over half) are remixed versions from 2001 releases. However, in the case of “Legendary,” it’s not an improvement, as the original Tupac verse is removed. This is followed by the disappointingly limp lead single “Let’s Just Do It,” which features T-Boz, Chilli and Missy Elliott. Lopes‘ TLC group mates and Missy tribute respectably, but the entire package, production and all, fails to live up to its billing. The remix rectifies this problem to a degree, but it would have been nice to see the song realize its potential.
One of the highlights is the Lil Mama-featured [click to read] “Block Party.” If it wasn’t apparent to you that Lil Mama‘s entire musical style was influenced by Left Eye‘s, it will be after hearing this. In fact, if you give it a casual listen, you might miss who’s rapping when. “Through The Pain” is an excellent reminder of how Left Eye was unafraid to bare it all emotionally as she waxes about issues with TLC.
Ultimately, Lisa Lopes‘ charisma, presence and range overcome Eye Legacy‘s pitfalls more often than not. It doesn’t hurt that the guest list for the album was carefully chosen: TLC, Missy Elliott, Lil Mama and Reigndrop Lopes (Left Eye‘s sister) were natural and excellent choices; what does hurt are trite pieces of production (“Forever,” “Let’s just Do It,” “Bounce”). Still, Eye Legacy serves as an example of how posthumous should be made: with care and altruism. As a result, those needing a reminder of Left Eye‘s deserved legacy will find it here.