When I was in Los Angeles interviewing the Death
Row posse, I was told Tupac Shakur wasn't available
to talk. But after Randy "Stretch" Walker was killed,
I felt the need to contact Shakur. What I thought would
be a five-minute conversation lasted well over an hour.
"Lemme get my cigarette," Shakur said as he got comfortable.
He was, as usual, very candid.
Did you move to Death Row for some sort of protection?
Hell, no. There's nobody in the business strong enough
to scare me. I'm with Death Row 'cause they not scared
When I was in jail, Suge was the only one who used
to see me. Nigga used to fly a private plane, all the
way to New York, and spend time with me. He got his
lawyer to look into all my cases. Suge supported me,
whatever I needed. When I got out of jail, he had a
private plane for me, a limo, five police officers for
security. I said, "I need a house for my moms"; I got
a house for my moms.
I promised him, "Suge, I'm gonna make Death Row the
biggest label in the whole world. I'm gonna make it
bigger than Snoop even made it." Not stepping on Snoop's
toes; he did a lot of work. Him, Dogg Pound, Nate Dogg,
Dre, all of them-they made Death Row what it is today.
I'm gonna take it to the next level.
Is it true your marriage was annulled?
Yeah. I moved too fast. I can only be committed to
my work or my wife. I didn't want to hurt her; she's
a good person. So we just took it back to where we were
I wanna put a rumor to rest. Did something happen
to you in prison?
Kill that rumor. That got started either by some guards
or by some jealous niggas. I don't have to talk about
whether or not I got raped in jail. If I wouldn't lay
down on the floor for two niggas with pistols, what
the f*ck make you think I would bend over for a nigga
without weapons? That don't even fit my character.
Do you or Death Row have any beef with Puffy or
[Laughs] I don't got no beef with nobody, man. I let
the music speak for itself. If you know, you know; if
you don't, you don't. Ain't no mystery-niggas know what
time it is.
So is this an East Coast/West Coast thing?
It's not like I got a beef with New York or nothing,
but I do have problems. And I'm representing the West
Side now. There's people disrespecting the West Coast-"It's
only gangsta shit, it ain't creative enough, it's f*cking
up the art form"-even though we made more money for
this art form than all those other motherf*ckers. The
artists now who selling records stole our style. Listen
to 'em-Biggie is a Brooklyn nigga's dream of being West
You used the word jealousy-
Let's be real. Be real, Kev. Doesn't Biggie
sound like me? Is that my style coming out of his mouth?
Just New York-tized. That big player shit. He's not
no player-I'm the player.
What about all the kids who look up to you and
Biggie who don't understand all this?
Regardless of all this stuff-no matter what he say,
what I say-Biggie's still my brother. He's black. He's
my brother. We just have a conflict of interest. We
have a difference of opinion.
How can we stop this disagreement before someone
I don't want it to be about violence. I want it to
be about money. I told Suge my idea: Bad Boy make a
record with all the East Coast niggas. Death Row make
a record with all the West Coast niggas. We drop the
records on the same day. Whoever sell the most records,
that's who the bombest. And then we stop battling. We
could do pay-per-views for charity, for the community.
What about Death Row and Bad Boy doing something
That's as together as we can get. For money. What
about getting together as black men? We are together
as black men-they over there, we over here. If we really
gonna live in peace, we all can't be in the same room.
Yellow M&M's don't move with green M&M's. I mean, you
don't put M&M's peanuts with M&M's plain. You hear me?
What about this hostility that people are feeding
into? Can you and Suge and Puffy and Biggie sit down-
But that's corny. That's just for everybody else-they
just wanna hear what the conversation is about. I know
my life's not in danger. They shouldn't feel like they
gotta worry about me. Puffy wrote me while I was in
jail. I wrote him back that I don't got no problems
with him. I don't want it to be fighting, I just wanna
make my money. You can't tell me I've gotta sit down
and hug and kiss niggas to make everybody else feel
good. If there was beef, niggas would know.
Your new album is called All Eyes on Me.
Can you describe it in a phrase?
Relentless. It's like, so-uncensored. I do not suggest
that children buy this album. There's a lot of cursing.
There's a lot of raw game that needs to be discussed
in a family moment before you let them listen.
What would you suggest parents tell their kids
to prepare them for it?
Explain to them that because I'm talking about it
doesn't mean that it's okay. This comes from someone
who just spent 11 and a half months in a maximum-security
jail, got shot five times, and was wrongly convicted
of a crime he didn't commit. This is not from a normal
Do you feel that you're a leader?
I think so. I think I'm a natural-born leader because
I'm a good soldier. I know how to bow down to authority
if it's authority that I respect. If Colin Powell was
president, I'd follow him.
I wanna get into politics. That's the way for us to
overcome a lot of our obstacles. Nothing can stop power
or recognize power but power. If Bosnia disrespects
America, they gonna go to war. 'Cause America wants
its respect. And we sit down after they recognize that
they should respect America. Before we can communicate,
there has to be mutual respect. And we don't have that.
Where's Tupac gonna be in the year 2000?
I'll be much calmer than I am now.
Why aren't you calm right now?
You know-how would you feel if someone violated you?
I was set up. I would rather have been shot straight-up
in cold blood-but to be set up? By people who you trusted?
Why do you think so many young black men around
the country identify with you?
'Cause we all soldiers, unfortunately. Everybody's
at war with different things. With ourselves. Some are
at war with the establishment. Some of us are at war
with our own communities.
What are you at war with?
Different things at different times. My own heart
sometimes. There's two niggas inside me. One wants to
live in peace, and the other won't die unless he's free.
What about the Tupac who's the son of a Black Panther,
and Tupac the rapper?
Tupac the son of the Black Panther, and Tupac the
rider. Those are the two people inside of me. My mom
and them envisioned this world for us to live in, and
strove to make that world. So I was raised off those
ideals, to want those.
But in my own life, I saw that that world was impossible
to have. It's a world in our head. It's a world we think
about at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I had to teach
my mother how to live in this world like it is today.
She taught me how to live in that world that we have
to strive for. And for that I'm forever grateful. She
put heaven in my heart. K.P.
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