One of the most interesting and intense interviews,
I’ve ever conducted was with Tupac Shakur.. He had just hit it big with the
movie "Juice" and everyone was wondering was he just acting or putting
forth his real life persona in the movie. Although I had known him for a couple
of years it was hard for me to tell. He had a loaded gun on him as we spoke.
If I recall it was a .38….Pac explains in this
interview his then recent encounter with the Oakland Police Department which
resulted in him getting beat.
Pac was out on bail after serving part of a
3 year prison sentence in upstate NY. He’s has signed with Death Row Records
and released his album, All Eyes On Me.
This early interview in March of 1996 lends some
incredible insight to how he was before all the trouble. Enjoy..Davey
Davey D: Give a little bit of background on
yourself. What got you into hip hop?
2Pac: I’m from the Bronx, NY. I moved to Baltimore
where I spent some high school years and then I came to Oaktown. As for hip
hop-all my travels through these cities seemed to be the common denominator.
Davey D: You lived In Marin City for a little
while. How was your connection with hip hop able to be maintained while living
there? Was there a thriving hip hop scene in Marin City?
2Pac: Not really..You were just given truth to
the music. Being in Marin City was like a small town so it taught me to be more
straight foward with my style. Instead of of being so metaphorical with the
rhyme, I was encouraged to go straight at it and hit it dead on and not waste
time trying to cover things…In Marin City it seemed like things were real
country. Everything was straight forward. Poverty was straight forward. There
was no way to say I’m poor, but to say ‘I’m poor’…
Davey D: How did you hook up with Digital Underground?
2Pac: I caught the ‘D-Flow Shuttle’ while I was
in Marin City. I’m referring to the album ‘Sons Of The P’ It was the way out
of here. It was the way to escape out of the ghetto. It was the way to success.
I haven’t gotten off since… Basically I bumped into this kid named Greg Jacobs
aka Shock G and he hooked me up with Digital Underground…
Davey D: What’s the concept behind your album
2Pac: The concept is the young Black male. Everybody’s
been talkin’ about it but now it’s not important. It’s like we just skipped
over it.. It’s no longer a fad to be down for the young Black male. Everybody
wants to go past. Like the gangster stuff, it just got exploited. This was just
like back in the days with the movies. Everybody did their little gunshots and
their hand grenades and blew up stuff and moved on. Now everybody’s doing rap
songs with the singing in it.. I’m still down for the young Black male. I’m
gonna stay until things get better. So it’s all about addressing the problems
that we face in everyday society.
Davey D: What are those problems?
2Pac: Police brutality, poverty, unemployment,
insufficient education, disunity and violence, black on black crime, teenage
pregnancy, crack addiction. Do you want me to go on?
Davey D: How do you address these problems? Are
you pointing them out or are you offering solutions? 2Pac: I do both. In some
situations I show us having the power and in some situations I show how it’s
more apt to happen with the police or power structure having the ultimate power.
I show both ways. I show how it really happens and I show how I wish it would
Davey D: You refer to yourself as the ‘Rebel
of the Underground’ Why so?
2Pac: Cause, if Digital Underground wasn’t diverse
enough with enough crazy things in it, I’m even that crazier. I’m the rebel
totally going against the grain…I always want to do the extreme. I want to
get as many people looking as possible. For example I would’ve never done the
song ‘Kiss U Back’ that way.
Davey D: Can talk about your recent encounter
with police brutality at the hands of the Oakland PD?
2Pac: For everyone who doesn’t know, I… an
innocent young black male was walking down the streets of Oakland minding my
own business and the police department saw fit for me to be trained or snapped
back into my place. So they asked for my I-D and sweated me about my name because
my name is Tupac. My final words to them was ‘f— y’all’ . Next thing I know
I was in a choke hold passing out with cuffs on headed for jail for resisting
arrest. We’re currently letting the law do its job by taking it through the
court system. We had to file a claim. We’re in the midst of having a ten million
dollar law suit against OPD. If I win and get the money then the Oakland Police
department is going to buy a boys home, me a house, my family a house and a
‘Stop Police Brutality Center’.
Davey D: Let’s talk about the movie ‘Juice’.
How did you get involved?
2Pac: Money B had an audition for the movie.
Sleuth [road manager] suggested I also come along. I went in cold turkey, read,
God was with me…The movie is about 4 kids and their coming of age.It’s not
a hip hop movie. It’s a real good movie that happens to have hip hop in it.
If it was made in the 60s it would’ve depicted whatever was ‘down’ in the 60s…My
character is Roland Bishop, a psychotic, insecure very violent, very short tempered
Davey D: What’s the message you hope is gotten
out of the movie?
2Pac: You never know what’s going on in somebody’s
mind. There are a lot of things that add up. There’s a lot of pressure on someone
growing up. You have to watch it if it goes unchecked. This movie was an example
of what can happen…In the movie my character’s, father was a prison w####
and that was something that drove him through the whole movie [this aspect was
deleted]. It just wrecked his mind. You can see through everybody else’s personality,
Bishop just wanted to get respect. He wanted the respect that his father didn’t
get. Everthing he did, he did just to get a rep. So from those problems never
being dealt with led to him ending four people’s lives.
Davey D: Do you intend on continuing making movies?
2Pac: It depends on whether or not there are
any good parts. I want to challenge myself.
Davey D: What is your philosophy on hip hop?
I’ve heard you say you don’t to see it diluted?
2Pac: Well when I said that, it made me think.
It brought me to myself. Now I have a different philosophy. Hip Hop when it
started it was supposed to be this new thing that had no boundaries and was
so different to everyday music. Now it seems like I was starting to get caught
up in the mode of what made hip hop come about. As long as the music has the
true to the heart soul it can be hip hop. As long it has soul to it, hip hop
can live on.
Davey D: What are your plans for the next year?
2Pac: To strengthen the Underground Railroad.
I have a group and a program called the Underground Railroad…The concept behind
this is the same concept behind Harriet Tubman, to get my brothers who might
be into drug dealing or whatever it is thats illegal or who are disenfranchised
by today’s society-I want to get them back into by turning them onto music.
It could be R&B, hip hop or pop, as long as I can get them involved. While
I’m doing that, I’m teaching them to find a love for themselves so they cxan
love others and do the same thing we did for them to others. Right now we’re
twenty strong. The group is going to be one that constanly evolves. The people
that are in the UR are coming from all over, Baltimore, Marin City, Oakland,
New York, Richmond-all over.
Davey D: Is there anything else we should know
2Pac: Yeah, the group Nothing Gold is coming.
My kids are coming out with a serious message…NG is a group coming out that
I produce.. All the stuff I say in my rhymes I say because of how I grew up.
So to handle that, instead of going to a pyschiatrist, I got a kids group that
deals with the problems a younger generation is going through. They put them
into rhymes so its like a pyschology session set to music. It’ll make you come
to grips with what you actually do.. If you’re a black man, you’re going to
really trip out cause they really call you out and have you deal with them…NG
will make us have responsibilty again. Kids are telling you to have responsibilty…