This memoir of the last year in rapper Tupac Shakur's life tries to give the inside story but is hampered by the writers' falling into the very trap they set out to disarm. Before entering the world of Death Row--the name of Shakur's record label, run by the notorious Marion ""Suge"" Knight--Alexander had escaped the ghettoes of Chicago by serving in the Marines and later as a prison guard in southern California. Maybe partly because of this, he gives a point of view different from the tabloids of the principal figures in the East Coast/West Coast rivalry largely regarded as responsible for fueling the murders of Shakur and rival ""Biggie"" Smalls. The author genuinely sees Shakur as a human being and wants to separate him from the ""thug life"" aura that he emanated. Ultimately, though, Alexander fails because he devotes too much attention to the thug. For instance, a whole section of the book is dedicated to Shakur's exploits with women, most often termed ""bitches"": ""Salli is a very pretty girl, a complete package. Her hair and skin were the same color of caramel brown, and she had a fine little body."" The disrespect shown for Shakur's principal ""girlfriend"" during this time, Kidada Jones, daughter of music-industry superstar Quincy Jones, is astounding. Alexander makes it quite clear that Shakur used her to get to her father and really didn't care for her (""He wasn't all up on that girlfriend shit, after all""). The book is too weighed down with guilt over Alexander's inability to prevent Shakur's death, a theme endlessly repeated in the closing pages. Finally, Alexander and coauthor Cuda (who also coauthored lee T's The Ice Opinion, not reviewed) will leave some readers wrestling with the idiom of the world they are writing about and in which their narrative is couched.