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There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the new Tupac Shakir album, titled Don’t Play This Song. What fans are interested in, though, is whether or not the record will receive the sort of critical acclaim that so many other debut albums have been receiving. The original version of Tupac’s “Don’t Play This Song” was met with both praise and admonishment upon its release. Much of that criticism stemmed from the fact that Shakir failed to live up to the stuttering delivery of previous singles such as “Look At Me Now,” “Reckless” and more. Despite this, Shakir remains a vital member of crews like En Vogue and continues to tour heavily.

So, what does this album do to bring it up to par with the standards set by prior efforts? For one, it’s got an incredible instrumental score featuring guest spots from artists such as Kanye West, Rihanna, Elton John, and plenty of others. It’s also got a strong, non-linear storyline featuring Shakir’s ever-present dream-like vocals, which makes this album something of a unique musical experience. The production on Don’t Play This Song is exceptional as well. Artists like Rihanna and Kanye West have made contributions throughout the album, which only emphasizes how important Shakir’s work really is to the genre.

As far as his overall career goes, however, Don’t Play This Song is not really anything special. This is an artist who has built a large reputation by creating interesting characters and songs; this album is no exception. Although some fans may say the production on this album is lacking, I feel that it works in conjunction with Shakir’s already outstanding voice to create a very satisfying album. In fact, I would argue that this is probably better than most of Shakir’s past work, which is quite impressive considering that he’s always focused on his lyrical lyrics and structure.

While the subject matter of the album isn’t groundbreaking, some of the songs do raise the expectations that his previous work hasn’t really reached. “Xxplosive” is a highly memorable single from Don’t Play This Song that gives fans a taste of what they can expect to hear from the band going forward. Fans are excited about the direction the album is taking and the sound quality. Although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Recovery, it does offer up a few highlights for those interested in listening to new music.

What makes Don’t Play This Song stand out, then, is the talent that goes into the production of the album. Although some producers on the mainstream level have become mediocre at producing music in this day and age, these people are few and far between. Tupac is one of the few artists to benefit from such stellar music production skills. His voice is undeniable and the instrumentals are catchy, memorable, and complex. He also knows when to get away from the subject matter and let other elements of the song do the heavy lifting. The result is an album that have a high degree of quality sound, but one that isn’t so overwhelming that it loses its effect altogether.

The title track alone serves as a reason to listen to the entire album. The opening verse quickly establishes the mood of the album and gets everyone involved in the song. The instrumental gives the listener a taste of what is to come as the band kicks things off with a heavy bassline. The lyrics, along with the instrumental, make this track something to keep your earlobe open and ready for a long relaxing ride.