once confessed publicly that they were not capable of freestyling in the grand tradition of rap, so it would be quite reasonable if 2nd II None
were not the most groundbreaking album in terms of its concepts and rhymes. And it is, in fact, lacking to some extent in those departments. On this debut album, the duo tended toward conventional gangsta braggadocio and, unfortunately also typical of the form, a rather blatant strain of misogyny. Crews like N.W.A.
and the Geto Boys
, while similarly inclined, had nonetheless found ways to undercut or at least give context to the more repugnant, offensive, and sexist themes running through their songs in the way of a trenchant ghetto philosophy that spoke to harrowing issues of the inner-city experience. 2nd II None
had little of that insight or ability to tweak gangsta rap clichés. What they did have was their own Dr. Dre
sitting behind the boards in the person of DJ Quik
, their skilled labelmate, and as a result the album does not lack in the least in the vitality of its sound, a deep, organic funk. His skilled way with a sampler and, frequently, live instruments makes it entirely possible to listen to wonderful tracks like "Underground Terror" and the smoked-out blaxploitation porno of "Mystic" without noticing the trite words at all. Still, Tha D
deserve credit for breaking gangsta rap out of its aversion to the more melodious aspects of urban music. The duo had a tendency to slip into smooth R&B crooning during choruses, a novel technique at the time, previously seen as an affront to street authenticity but since quite commonplace in hip-hop. It helped the album break into the mainstream, and the singles "Be True to Yourself" and the horny "If You Want It" remain minor old-school classics by consequence.