Few groups have had to endure as much adversity as the Outlawz. The group has struggled through both the splintering of some of its membership, such as Fatal’s departure, and Tupac’s death. Following Tupac’s demise few would have believed that the group would still be around today, much less putting out good music – but that is exactly what the Outlawz have continued to do with Novakane.
Similar to their late founder the Outlawz send somewhat contradictory messages. Much of the album is used to relay their gangster ideologies and aesthetics. However, most of these songs fall short of expectations with the exception of “Rize” featuring Big Syke of Thug Life fame, and “This Is The Life.”
When the Outlawz truly rise to the occasion, in traditional Tupac fashion, it is during their more contemplative moments. “Our Life” is a testament to all of the challenges that the foursome has had to overcome, and how the struggle has made them stronger than they were before. “2nd Hand Smoke” is a reflection on life over a slowed-down tempo with a melodic background, invoking the most laid-back feel on the record. “History” traces their roots and is accented by the biggest surprise on the album, the crooning of Seal on the hook. The song with the greatest replay value is “World Wide Remix” featuring an intense verse and adlibs by Tupac. The up-tempo beat and voice-boxed chorus make this track a hit. The raunchy but humorous “Boxspring Boogie” sexscapade rounds things out nicely.
The Outlaws have crafted a good album with Novokane. They do need to be more stringent in eliminating tracks which are nothing but filler, but more the most part Novokane will provide some quality listening.