The impact of Mopreme cannot be understated. He’s the step-brother of Tupac, but his contributions to Hip-Hop culture transcend that fact. A pilar in the Shakur family, he’s an influential figure that steadfastly uses his voice and talent to impact the world.
A native New Yorker, like Pac, Mopreme witnessed firsthand the struggles and injustices faced by marginalized communities. He adopted Hip-Hop at an early age, but would later be an integral member of Thug Life, the collective of emcees fronted by Tupac Shakur. As part of “Thug Life,” Mopreme demonstrated his lyrical prowess and passion for storytelling through his raw and poignant verses. “Thug Life: Volume 1,” released in 1994, solidified Mopreme’s place in the world, but there still more.
The Shakur family has a history of involvement in the Black Freedom movement, and Mopreme has continued that legacy in his own way. His father, Dr. Mutulu Shakur was finally freed from prison after being imprisoned almost 37 years. He succumed to cancer later this year, but the fire he sparked continues to burn in the son. This interview is a result of the veteran rapper speaking out against the way the system has treated his family on CNN in fact.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur and Mopreme talk shop in this lengthy interview, which yields a lot of emotion, facts and infinite possibilites.
AllHipHop: First of all, I want to give you my condolences on the loss of Mutulu, Dr. Mutulu Shakur. We at AllHipHop were, in our way, putting in a little work to help get him out of there as quickly as possible. Even before the health circumstances, trying to get him liberated as is necessary for a lot of our political prisoners. So, you have my condolences on that.
Mopreme Shakur: I appreciate that. I appreciate the help all through the years from you guys, you and your audience, the whole Hip-Hop community, you know what I’m saying? I really do appreciate it, because it was a struggle. First, getting him free and then trying to keep his health up these last six months.
AllHipHop: I’ve always wanted to know, Mopreme, that name. What made you give yourself that name and is there a meaning to it? What’s the meaning behind it?
Mopreme Shakur: I didn’t give myself that name.
AllHipHop: Who gave it to you?
Mopreme Shakur: It was – rest in peace – Pac. Pac and Stretch, and back in them days when we was in New York a lot, Supreme‘s name was ringing bells. On the low, I was the man in the crew, “So, you Mopreme, that’s Mopreme,” and the best Mo you’ll ever know.
AllHipHop: No doubt. What year was that? It had to be the ’80s?
Mopreme Shakur: Early ’90s.
AllHipHop: Early ’90s, because before you had a different name.
Mopreme Shakur: Yeah, I busted on the scene with “Feels Good,” man. You know what I’m saying? With Tony! Toni! Toné!, a young Mopreme was out there. I was Mocedes The Mellow back then – I got it in early.
AllHipHop: I was going to save that for last. But since you said it, I always wanted to know how did that happen? I mean, first of all, Feels Good is a legendary songs, such a happy record. It was just a dope record, but I never really could understand how you made that connection. I’m assuming it was in the Bay or something?
Mopreme Shakur: Affirmative. We all ended up in the Bay at different times. I had got out the military in Monterey, California, and then as soon as I got out, I went to the Bay. And I was a young rapper from New York, but I was still doing my thing, and the Tonys gave me a shot. They came into one of my sessions, or I was recording my own demo. I was doing it, you know what I mean? And one of the producers I was working with, he helped me out. He made the connection. My man, Kenya, Kenya Gruv. He’s the brother of one of the band members.
AllHipHop: Got you. I was wondering also if you were going to get back with them. They recently reunited. Maybe you can hop on stage with them.
Mopreme Shakur: Hey, you never know. You know what I mean? You never know. We survived through this ill, ill industry in one way or another, and we not enemies.
AllHipHop: So, I reached out initially, because long follower, but you said something that made me really think, you spoke about the treatment by the media of your father and Tupac.
Mopreme Shakur: I assume you’re talking about the CNN interview?
Mopreme Shakur: I said it was the way the system, the system has treated our family, you know what I mean? Each one of us individually plus, you dig? They started framing us in a certain way, my father’s era on, you dig? It felt like in Pac and my case, once they were aware of us, it seemed to be intensified. The scrutiny, the ridicule, instead of seeing this is two young Black boys trying to make it.
AllHipHop: What about how the system treated Pac? I mean, he was an entertainer, so it seems a little different to me. He was in the limelight much more. Do you agree with that or is it just because the times changed?
Mopreme Shakur: I agree. It was intensified, that’s granted. He was the king of rap, you know what I mean? He was a movie star, so all eyes was on him before all eyes was on him. You dig? What Pac did was dare to fight. He dared to fight back. He dared to say something. He dared to question the police, and it comes with a certain amount of baggage.
AllHipHop: Those [undercover] cops who were brutalizing that young Black guy, they were undercover or they didn’t have badges on or anything. Even in that instance, I was just really thinking, this guy’s [Tupac) different. This guy is, he sees different, he’s built different…
Mopreme Shakur: They were off duty. You would think someone would be supposed to be a peace officer or peace officers in the civilian world. You would think they would behave better, come to find out, they were police.
AllHipHop: There’s a lot more to your dad than people know. What are some of those things that we don’t necessarily associate with your father that we should know?
Mopreme Shakur: My father was part of the Black diaspora as well. He fought in Africa as well. The revolution was bigger than just the United States. He was with all that. He was somewhat like America’s Mandela, you dig? Honestly, he was a professional. He was a doctor. [Afeni] was a lawyer. They fought the good fight. They both fought the good fight and paid the price. That’s what I don’t think people know. He used to do fundraisers and raise money and go buy ambulances in Africa during the revolution. I mean, he went above and beyond.
AllHipHop: What was your relationship with Afeni like?
Mopreme Shakur: Afeni was my stepmom, especially my stepmom. I mean, I was around her from the time I was five years old, and between my mother, going up with her house and she was my stepmom, cool as sh#t to to the end.
AllHipHop: Why did you all end up in the Bay? I mean, what’s the magic there?
Mopreme Shakur: Revolutionary roots, revolutionary roots. Our uncle, Pac’s godfather-
Mopreme Shakur: Geronimo, His wife was up there and they had Mutulu, Afeni, Uncle G, I mean, they all worked together in California back in the late ’70s, me and Shyheim.
AllHipHop: It’s funny, because we interviewed Mutulu and Geronimo prior to his passing too, which is mind-blowing. I have to admit, those interviews did revolve around Pac. We were young, so we were younger. In hindsight, I’m like, wait a minute, we really need to talk to them about them. It all centered around Tupac.
Mopreme Shakur: The family’s ill, it’s a ill family tree.
AllHipHop: Now, that’s a fact. Now, that’s a fact. And people need to do the knowledge on Geronimo as well. That was a bad brother, man. I’ve read his book and everything, so I know quite a bit. But it’s a crazy family tree for sure. Would you consider yourself a Panther Cub? Were you ever a Panther Cub?
Mopreme Shakur: Not exactly, because my father was not in the Panthers. So many people, we don’t know enough of our own history to know that there was a lot of different groups. Afeni was a Panther. My father was in the Black Liberation Army and the Republic of New Afrika. They worked together. They worked in concert a lot on different things, but they were different entities. He’s part of RAM, Revolutionary Action Movement. But they’re not going to tell you about these other groups.
AllHipHop: That’s a fact. He used to run with Slim Williams, right? Am I correct? Am I right with that in New York?
Mopreme Shakur: I told you that. That’s my cousin, Uncle Chaz.
AllHipHop: That’s how I met him. I met him through y’all. That’s how I met him.
Mopreme Shakur: Big Chaz, rest in peace.
AllHipHop: Chaz, rest in peace. We interviewed him too. At any rate, how did it feel for you to be at the Tupac Walk of Fame was crazy. I got a play-by-play. How was that though? How was the vibes? Because when you talk about the system and then you see something like that happen, it’s kind of a contrast, the system on this side, but then this crazy Hollywood celebration on the other.
Mopreme Shakur: Because you can’t stop the bum rush, you can’t stop the bum rush. He was a phenom. He’s a phenomenon. You aren’t going to stop. You ain’t going to stop [Tupac] either way. He’s still winning. That talent was undeniable, and that’s what that was for. It was good Pac energy. It was good Pac Energy that day. There was no grief, no problems. Thank y’all. Everybody was in a good mood. We could have used a little bit more sun, but it was crazy. It was the biggest posthumous star reveal ever. The only one bigger was Michael Jackson and he was alive.
AllHipHop: So, who started rapping first, you or Pac?
Mopreme Shakur: I’m older, so I’m going to say me, because I was rapping. That’s why we were on the kind of same trajectory because he was right behind me.
Check back on AllHipHop.com for Part 2.