On behalf of anyone who hasn't already seen State Property (or as star Beanie Sigel so adorably calls it, State Property 1), Sigel begins State Property 2 by gruffly recounting the first film's plot: Sigel played this bad-ass killer who recruits a crew of similarly committed super-thugs to kill a whole bunch of other motherfuckers in hopes of conquering Philadelphia's lucrative drug game, all while sporting the latest in ultra-fashionable Rocawear gear. Actually, that's not a bad description of State Property 2, either, though it should be noted that Sigel spends much of the sequel in jailwhich is uncanny, given how much time he's actually spent behind bars of late. (Then again, he's a Philadelphia rapper named Beanie playing a Philadelphia gangsta named Beans.)
An exercise in synergy and hip-hop egotism masquerading as a New Jack gangsta epic, State Property 2 casts the dourly belligerent Sigel as an incarcerated Scarface wannabe who begins planning his return to power while still serving out his sentence. In the joint, he teams up with fellow inmate N.O.R.E. (of Capone and Noreaga), a street operator who leaves prison and quickly re-establishes a strong street presence. Director-producer/Roc-A-Fella kingpin Damon Dash co-stars as (of course) a kingpin named "Dame" who squared off against Sigel in the first film, and tussles with him in its sequel, too. Like a lot of rapsploitation movies, State Property 2 boasts a plot that's somehow both simplistic and maddeningly convoluted. Dash and co-screenwriter Adam Moreno introduce a huge, barely differentiated cast of minor characters, often with accompanying flashbacks and narration. It should come as no surprise that many of these forgettable space-fillers are Roc-A-Fella recording artists, or that they play characters who share their names, hometowns, and parts of their real-life backstories. Dash casts himself as the bad guy, though the concept of good and bad remains pretty slippery in a film where pretty much every man's a brutal thug. There's a promising strain of self-parody in Dash's portrayal of a vain, neurotic egotist with delusions of grandeur, but there's an even more potent element of narcissism in it as well. Dash directs with a certain visual flare and a sense of humor, but as the film lumbers toward its climax, keeping track of the innumerable allegiances and double-crosses becomes an exercise in futility.