Unreleased LP 2pac’s Last Album: The 3 Day Theory
Written by Niko on March 24, 2017
Unreleased material taken off The 7 Day Theory presented in its original quality.
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In this review I generally compare the released and unreleased versions of The 7 Day Theory, formerly called The 3 Day Theory.
If you want to make your own comparisons, check out the link below:
As you can see, the artwork on the unreleased version is far more critical of 2pac’s competition (Biggie, Dr. Dre, P Diddy)
Based on speculation, this is the original track listing before Deathrow Records modified the album thematically.
The 3 Day Theory: The Unreleased Makaveli Mixtape
Released in 1996, The 7 Day Theory became one of Tupac Shakur’s most infamous albums. The single To Live & Die In LA became a classic track that today people still slobber over as a crowning achievement for West Coast Rap. Such a credit solely to the West was irresponsibly given, since much of 2pac’s work under the alias Makaveli came as the product of his East and West hybrid Outlawz crew. While the media during the mid-90’s inflated the fantasy of an East versus West coast beef, Tupac worked for three days straight to create The 3 Day Theory. The Outlawz crew can’t match the emotional intensity of Tupac, but do manage to give The 3 Day Theory some much needed variety in vocal tone. Much of the time it seems the Outlawz are never as comfortable as Tupac on the beat. Then again three days isn’t much time to compose an hour and 20 minutes of content. And this is fantastic content, much of which is not shared in The 7 Day Theory. This is why I sought The 3 Day Theory, to experience this iconic album as it was meant to be experienced by its creators.
The beginning track Bomb First is exactly the same as the official version save for the transition into the following track. What I do notice is the lyrics tend to stick out more in every track. This is not necessarily the result of clearer speaking, rather the mixing is not mastered enough to overpower the lyrics like in the released version. Hail Mary sounds exactly the same as the release version as well, a track about knowing death and its inescapability. Each MC on this track does not want to burn in hell, but the intricacies of surviving day to day life complicates this desire. The following track Toss It Up begins with a monk-type of hum that seems to denote death. This is a bump and grind West coast flavored track, but I find both the released and unreleased versions a little slow and the beat feels empty. Still a fun track, though one I don’t find appealing in terms of its sense of completeness. The transition between this track and Watch Ya Mouth is the little interview skit of a guy talking to a female news reporter who is concerned Tupac’s work creates more East and West coast tension. This skit normally plays before To Live & Die In LA, but I think it works better here. This is because Watch Ya Mouth is a far more guttural, hungry, and unstoppably critical track that attacks just about anyone that said a bad thing about Tupac. The beat is a lot like the one in Toss It Up because both sound minimalistic in design, except in Watch Ya Mouth this minimalism actually plays very well.
The transition into To Live & Die In LA features the scrambling of a radio dial as Tupac says ‘I looove LA.’ This does give me insight into why they put the ‘concern over East and West’ skit here instead of including Watch Ya Mouth altogether; the album would be shorter and bring a pop-oriented track to the front of the album. This was a mistake however, because the transitions in this unreleased album version are superior to the released version. The monk hymn I talked about earlier seemed to prep me better for Toss It Up, a track in the released version I would skip immediately rather than sit through. To Live & Die In LA does not suffer from not having the skit directly before it, and the song itself is no different from the released version save for the transitions. Blasphemy sounds different in how the beat is balanced, which gives it a more depressive quality I enjoy. The blaring voice before the track is clearer than the released version, in which we can actually tell it’s supposed to be a warped Christian preacher. Lost Souls follows as an upbeat type of Rap track which feels out of place in terms of the complete album, but contrasts the Blasphemy track beautifully through its fast tempo and intense chorus. Lost Souls would have been a good single. N***az Nature follows Lost Souls through a smooth transition barely three seconds long. Another fast track, it’s just as gorgeous yet out of place.
Friendz follows in another quick transition, further pursuing Tupac’s fascination with the ladies. The 3 Day Theory seemed to start as this dark introspective album, but these last three tracks moved toward a romantic side of its artists. Life Of An Outlaw follows, and seems to bring the album back on track. Again the three previous tracks are incredible, but Life Of An Outaw brings the listener back to the original context of Bomb First with its fear of self-destruction. Nothing else is different, and what follows is Just Like Daddy. While this track is just as romantic as Friendz, it does feel more depressive and dark. It does seem to drag for me in a way that N***az Nature does not, simply because of the slow tempo and the Outlawz verses. White Manz World follows with a sample asking the question ‘What makes you ashamed of being black?’ I don’t think The 3 Day Theory or its released version really could tackle this question, but this theme is central to the fear and depression that permeates the album. I prefer this version of White Manz World because somehow the beat seems darker, more lost in this tumultuous topic. After which comes Me & My Girlfriend, a track that kept the feeling of the album but feels too over the top for me, too fantastic to really believe. I do admit that complaining a track is over the top when reviewing Tupac feels like an ignorant thing for me to do. Hold Ya Head follows with a bittersweet instrumental that could pull tears from stone. The vocals backing up Tupac’s rhymes make the track almost too busy, but it still maintains its balance throughout.
Against All Odds seems so erratic to me, which the chorus only seems to reinforce. At one point Tupac is talking about Haitian Jack, his enemies who look like Larry Holmes, and how he’s up at the studio getting blow. As far as I can tell, this track shows just how far Tupac has fallen into the void. How willing he is to abandon reality, and how little this loss of touch matters when creating an amazing track. To me it speaks as a warning of how far an artist can go before collapsing from the stress. Tupac got very far, further than most. This album features a Hidden Track which is a skit that seems to reinforce Tupac’s disposition toward building his own armies. His voice seems to be coming over a loudspeaker in a mess hall holding all his soldiers. The listeners are his warriors, the people upholding his fame. The last track When Thugs Cry is truly breathtaking, a mix of blues and hardcore rap that could not be defeated if anyone tried. I can’t believe this track was removed from The 7 Day Theory simply because it fits the bill so well. My theory is this track and the Hidden Track reinforced too much the notion that Tupac wanted to build his own iconic following. He did not want to be Deathrow Records forever, he wanted to move on to being Tupac & The Outlawz, a plan that would have worked if not for his death.
For an album The 3 Day Theory is less capable of achieving one thematic topic than The 7 Day Theory. That said, the tracks that were taken off The 7 Day Theory should have stayed simply because they were not lacking in quality. The 3 Day Theory lacks the mastered tracks boasted by the final release, but this does not mean the beats are not incredible. My favorite track off the album happens to be the unreleased Watch Ya Mouth that serves as a better diss track than Hit ‘Em Up in my opinion. The beat is light yet hard, intoxicating in its rhythm and ‘lyrical f**king.’ In effect I say The 3 Day Theory is a superior album, but it’s understandable why Deathrow Records would sensor some content as it would not benefit their interests. The 3 Day Theory receives five out of six bullet wounds because of its superior transitions from song to song, its variability in mood, and its general better quality despite not being mastered even for its less pop appealing tracks like White Manz World and Blasphemy. That said its more poppy Toss It Up and To Live & Die In LA do not suffer at all from the less than commercial quality.