Mopreme Talks Biggie And Tupac, Death Row Records, And Being Outlawz

Mopreme Shakur

Mopreme Shakur has seen it all and, as Tupac’s brother, he’s been a witness to quite a lot. This includes Biggie Smalls and The Outlawz.

Mopreme Shakur, Tupac’s brother and rap group mate, has seen so much. As a member of both Thug Life and Outlawz, he used to roll with Big Syke, Stretch, Rated R, Macadoshis, E.D.I. Mean, Young Noble, Kastro, Napoleon. But, what about Biggie Smalls? In part 2 of our conversation, he reveals that a young Christopher Wallace was almost a member of the iconic 90’s collective headed by ‘Pac.

Mopreme explains how as a young father, all of the tension and drama forced him to pull back from the game. He’d peeped the inner workings of Death Row Records and also experienced first-hand the duality of his life at that time. Just like the lyrics, there was violence, poverty, and struggle.

Mopreme’s involvement with both Thug Life and the Outlawz is connective tissue that links Tupac, father Mutulu Shakur, the streets, and the consciousness. Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur and the East/West OG discuss it.

AllHipHop: You were in Thug Life and you were also in The Outlawz, but you left. What made leave The Outlaws?

Mopreme Shakur: Well, originally we were Thug Life Outlaw Immortals, Outlaw Immortals, because it included me, Pac, and Syke, and there came a point where it was supposed to be a jump off for the Outlawz for the little homies, the young homies, to finally get they album, finally get they deals and spread wings and fly. We just felt we needed to be there for them a little bit, springboard, and then it was open for them to do they thing.

AllHipHop: Got you, so you didn’t feel like you needed to continue?

Mopreme Shakur: Well, we had completed a mission. We had springboarded them off, and they were still with Pac at Death Row on a daily. They were younger, they were teens. I’m a grown-ass man. My first child was about to be born, you know what I mean? I had things to do.

AllHipHop: Did you have a bad feeling about Death Row at all? Did that concern you at all?

Mopreme Shakur: Not initially, not initially. Coming from where we was coming from, this is another Black company, Black ownership. They doing they thing. We were pro-Black, and we felt like maybe they getting a bad shake over there. They are number one. It was still the number one rap label, but once you got over there, you see how things work. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

AllHipHop: Understood. As far as Thug Life, so let me say this. I’ve always been fascinated by Tupac and also confused too. I won’t lie. I gravitated very, very heavily to the pro-Black part, that I considered the pro-Black. Then I started getting the thug… Thug Life started to be like, oh, now, it’s a different energy. To me, at least to me, it was a different energy. Did you feel a change in the energy, or you knowing him personally, did it stay consistent?

Mopreme Shakur: What we were going through, what the people were watching was a young man growing into be being a man, so it’s a journey. It’s education. As a young man turning into a man, you start experiencing things. You seeing the people around you go through things, and Pac was very intelligent. So, he’s questioning everything.

Our elders, they did their thing, but they not here for us right now. You know what I mean? Most of them had passed away, incarcerated and in the system, that’s destroyed them. So, here we are, and the only ones looking out for us is these good brothers in the streets where you could find them, the thug life. My favorite uncle was a heroin addict.

So, that’s what we were tapping into as well as dealing with, at that time, the [1994] crime bill. So all of us, we all thugs, we all hoodlums and thugs and gangsters, that’s all we are. Well, let’s stick together because they coming for us. You know what I mean? We talked about the project with my pops [Mutulu Shakur] and he was like, “What hell that mean, thug life? What the hell? Y’all going to knock a old lady over her head with a bat? What that mean? You better make it mean something.” And we worked on, “What does it mean?”

And Pac was like, “[Mutulu], you sitting up there in jail, write this for us. We got to do shows. We got to work.” And my Pops created Thug Code. He wrote it out and we put the project together. It was part of the whole movement.

AllHipHop: That’s dope. I love the thug code too, by the way. It’s something we need to bring it back.

Mopreme Shakur: Amongst ourselves, we need every tool we could get our hands on. We need every tool we could get our hands on, because I’m in LA. I know what it’s like out here and I’m seeing what it’s like around the country, so it is good to have some tools to work with.

AllHipHop: I had a question on the rumor side. Is there any truth to the rumor that Biggie Smalls was supposed to be a part of Thug Life?

Mopreme Shakur: There’s some validity to that before things fell apart. Before things fell apart, Pac was a uniter. We knew were from New York, we knew we were from the East Coast, and Pac liked to work with the best talent around. So there was a period, there was a time when we was all cool. There was a time where Pac wanted Biggie to be part of the East Coast faction of Thug Life, because we was kicking with each other anyway. Pac wasn’t just a hater just to be hating. He liked them. We liked him.

AllHipHop: They were tight. They were tight. Did you meet-

Mopreme Shakur: They did a song, they did “Runnin’ (Dying To Live)” with the album.

AllHipHop: Then they got that freestyle Funk Master Flex always plays, the one with Big Daddy Kane, Shyheim, they always cut those people out, but the whole thing is dope.

Mopreme Shakur: I was there that day.

AllHipHop: You were there that day?

Mopreme Shakur: That’s the Garden one?

AllHipHop: Yeah, man.

Mopreme Shakur: Yeah, that was massive. That was a massive scene.

AllHipHop: I hadn’t jumped off the porch by that time, man. I was still home with it. You know what I mean?

Mopreme Shakur: I knew Pac was cocked and ready. I like, “Pac is ready for this moment. Pac is ready for this moment.” He killed, he murdered it.

AllHipHop: He killed that joint, oh my God, that was amazing. I can only imagine, I had never seen a video, I don’t think. But the audio is almost like a video. It’s almost like seeing it. It’s crazy.

Mopreme Shakur: There’s a video, but it’s from the back of the stage. Somebody on stage took it. I seen it once.

AllHipHop: That’s crazy. How did you feel when things started to change? And I won’t say fall apart, but I mean, myself as an observer, really. I mean, I was a fan of everything in Hip-Hop. But it bothered me, man, to see brothers at odds like that. It really hurt my heart, because I felt like we had fought really hard with stuff like “Self-Destruction” and “All In The Same Gang.” Where did you stand in that time? What was your position and what were you feeling?

Mopreme Shakur: My position is that I’m going to look out for my brother. I’m not going to try to question his authority. He had the authority at the time. He had the power at the time. I was going to support him and try to help him not make mistakes. It did not look good for me to ridicule and criticize him in public. So no, you ain’t going to see none of that. But I counseled him from home, and I did the best I could and went good for a few years, and then that young man growing into a man, things changed.

Tupac, Afeni, Mutulu And The Shakur Family Have Been Unfairly Treated By America, Says Mopreme

AllHipHop: Have you ever, I don’t know, there’s a lot of stuff around counseling and stuff nowadays. Have you ever gone through any sort of counseling or therapy or anything?

Mopreme Shakur: I think I need something though. Word is bond.

AllHipHop: Man, it’s a lot. I mean, seriously, bro. I, when I think about it, when I think about it, just me, I’m talking about myself personally. It’s traumatic. For real, for real. I’ll never forget the day Pac died and the day Big died. I mean, it was like I went home. You know what I’m saying? I cried, man. I went laid down and stuff. So being in your position, I can only imagine it’s infinitely more traumatic.

Mopreme Shakur: I’ve had to develop quite a thick skin, a lot of loss, a lot of loss. If you look at our whole crew, there are like 10, 12 of us gone. I talk to my friends. I never sought out counseling, but I get it out by talking to my friends and family. They say it’s action therapy. They say it’s talk therapy, great. I can do that. Let me scream, holler. But you got to keep it moving.