Tupac Shakur: The 1995 Interview

Tupac Shakur 1995 Interview

Expressing Myself – Silencing The Demons: Part 2

October 11, 2012

On October 19th, 1995, Tupac Shakur was holed up at Can Am studios in Tarzana, furiously laying down tracks for his soon-to-be hit double-CD, “All Eyez On Me.” Less than a week after Death Row had sprung him from Riker’s Island maximum-security penitentiary on a $1.4 million appellate bond, the 24-year-old rap artist picked me to do his first post-prison interview.

Anyone who mistakenly thought Pac was a lightweight will – after listening to this recording – think again. The interview covers the gamut. He speaks with laser-like precision about everything from inspiring art to political oppression, spitting out complex thoughts like raps: analyzing the plots of Shakespeare, dissecting the roots of gang warfare and government corruption, as well as his own insecurities.

At the time of this interview, I was clueless as to what actually happened to Tupac 11 months earlier in the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan, mistakenly perceiving his ambush to be a record company publicity stunt – instead of the first shot fired in what would prove to be a deadly bi-coastal rap war. Even Vibe magazine’s powerful April 95 prison interview (following the release of Bad Boy’s taunting “Who Shot Ya?”) did not wake me up.
In Vibe, Pac singled out the individuals he suspected of setting him up in that near-fatal November 94 encounter, during which he was shot, pistol-whipped, beaten, kicked, and robbed of $40,000 in jewelry. The assailants ripped every ring from his fingers and a fat gold chain and jeweled medallion from his neck, but did not touch the diamond encrusted Rolex on his wrist – a veiled threat to ensure he not mistake the calculated beat-down as a random robbery.

Five months before Pac sat down with me, he called out Sean “Puffy” Combs and Christopher Wallace, AKA Biggie Smalls, in Vibe, accusing them of either setting him up, or having advance knowledge of the brutal ambush he was about to endure, and not warning him. He also boldly singled out aspiring Brooklyn talent agents James Rosemond, AKA Jimmy Henchman, and Jacques Agnant, AKA Haitian Jack, of masterminding the assault.

Indeed, Henchman had lured Pac to the studio that night with a promise of $7,000 to guest-rap on a song with Lil Shawn, a fledgling rap act Henchman represented at the time. Pac recounted the true names of his alleged conspirators to journalist Kevin Powell, but Vibe chose to conceal their true identities, referring to Henchman as “Booker,” and Jack as “Nigel” in the published interview. Sources familiar with the incident say Vibe changed the names after receiving threats from Henchman. A former editor at the magazine denied receiving threats, but could not explain why Vibe substituted aliases hiding Henchman and Haitian Jack’s names.

In October of 95, I was so unaware of the bi-coastal rap war that I suspected nothing when Faith Evans appeared with Tupac at Can Am. Biggie’s estranged wife was recording background vocals for a new Pac song, “Wonder Why They Call U Bitch.” You can hear her singing and talking on the tape.

Sources at Can Am told me Faith also laid down background vocals for “2 Of Amerika’s Most Wanted,” a duet between Pac and Snoop, for which he later concocted a music video mocking Faith’s estranged husband and the head of her record label, using look-alike actors named “Piggie” and “Buff Daddy” in a spoof in which Pac avenges the Quad ambush.
People at the sessions told me one juicy, little known detail about Faith’s Can Am contributions. They said the R&B chanteuse also recorded at least one version of the “Take Money” background vocals that later appeared on Pac’s most inflammatory single, “Hit Em Up” – a caustic anti-East Coast jihad in which the rapper threatens to eliminate Biggie, Puff and a slew of Bad Boy artists and other New York acts.

While listening to this interview, you’ll notice that I barely touch on the Quad ambush, or the East Coast/West Coast War. Not because I was afraid to broach a touchy subject, but because, at the time, I was ignorant of how important the incident truly was – or the fallout it would cause. I neglected to ask Pac a single question about Puff or Big, or anyone he had previously blamed for setting him up. I still wince when I think about this omission.

I did not, however, squander the opportunity to draw Pac out on other topics. The conversation goes all over the map. As always, Pac was witty and perceptive, his train of thought compelling, his insights strikingly original. At one point, he compares the fight between the Bloods and the Crips to the feud between the Capulets and Montagues in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Tupac Shakur had less than a year to live when he sat down to talk in this interview.

19 thoughts on “Tupac Shakur: The 1995 Interview”

  1. OMG…. that thing he said on part 3 at 17:52 … SHIT… he was right… when he was alive, all they said, how bad influence he was and his gangsta rap music… and when he died he turned into a role model everyone saying his music was beautiful and the words he sang… WOW… he impresses me to this day…

  2. i was trying to hear the interview but they dont play out all the way is there a problem? first one only comes to 4:25, second one is 7:00 and the third one only comes to 11:24

    1. There is some stopping happening we are trying to fix that on the hosting side. It appears to be happening on and off.
      Apologies for the inconvenience.
      Administrator.

  3. Hey chuck you’re doing a wonderful job. believe me some of us have problems listening to the tapes, Please can you just write out the content for us to read?

    Thank you for understanding..

  4. Wow, the more I learn about 2Pac the more I think he was an amazing person. I love listening to him talk. I can’t believe he was 24 during this interview. He was very intelligent.

    Thanks for making this available. Tomorrow is the 20 year anniversary of Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. I like that album the best.

    For those having problem with the recordings stopping, I had it happen to me once. All I did was click pause, and then click play again, and it started right where it left off.

  5. Hey Chuck, lots of love from Australia, and thanks for keeping Tupac’s Legacy alive, like he said in your interview, even if he doesnt have kids his Legacy will live on.

    As a massive Tupac fan i’d love to have a chat with you sometime to learn more about Pac from a different angle.

    Cheers mate.

  6. hi Chuck, my name in Nicolas Mejia , im a journalist of bogota colombia, i study in the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, one of the best universitys of journalism in latin america. i am a big fan of your work and i like, if its possible, to interview you about the tupac case.
    thank you
    Nicolas Mejía

  7. The best interview I have heard. Thank you Chuck P. Makes me happy to see tupac is still alive. P.s. I also think that the questions you asked were more important than what questions you would have asked about the the east-west coast feud. Long live Pac.

  8. I can’t listen to the interview for some reason it says ” Woops the tracks cannot be found” , has it been removed and if so where can I find this interview?

    Thanks

    Vic

  9. There is no soundcloud embedded on the right side of the page for the 1995 interview but for the 1993 interview there is. Can you give a direct link to the 1995 interview?

    Cheers.

  10. It’s so sad that he had to be a victim for ppl to realize his point of view, as a child he hated growing up in poverty, and when he finally had that opportunity to live comfortably he couldnt because of all the drama… I will always love him and his music, may he rip…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *