Missed out on the first State Property? Don’t sweat it. You need only have been alive and marginally aware of gangsta rap music during the last 10 years or so to suss out this sequel’s themes. State Property 2 is no more three-dimensional than your average brand-name-laden hip-hop video.
The film follows a reprehensible porcupine of a man named Beans, who’s doing hard time for drug trafficking. (How’s this for cinema verityé: Beans is played by rapper Beanie Sigel, who will miss this movie’s premiere party, thanks to a federal weapons conviction.) We know Beans is the protagonist not because Property opens with his narration (everybody gets a voice-over in this cartoonish ego-fest) and not because he’s legally challenged (everyone here is epically guilty and remorse-free). He’s simply the most ruthless as he rages to protect his hustling interests from encroaching thugs, all played by B-level hip-hoppers from mogul (and costar/director/producer) Damon Dash’s record label.
Property’s perfunctory plot is beside the point. The film assumes that certain audiences will flock to it solely to see rappers acting. But even outsize musical personalities like N.O.R.E. and Freeway are rendered impotent when forced to deliver clunky dialogue instead of slick lyrics. In a story with no heroes, at least Dash, barely masking his glee as he shamelessly plugs his athletic wear and vodka, makes a watchable villain.