Suge Speaks Out About Tupac
Sept. 20, 1996 -- Las Vegas police say they still have no
leads on suspects or motive in the murder of rapper and actor
Tupac Shakur, who died last Friday, the 13th, after being
gunned down in a drive-by following the Mike Tyson-Bruce
Seldon boxing match September 7th. Meanwhile, on Thursday
night in Los Angeles, we spoke with Marion "Suge"
Knight, head of Tupac's label, Death Row Records, and the man
who was driving the car, sitting right next to Tupac when he
was shot. Knight, who himself was grazed in the head by a
bullet, was prevented by lawyers from addressing the shooting
itself... But here, for the first time on television, he
speaks publicly about its aftermath.
MTV: How are you feeling, and how are you doing
MARION "SUGE" KNIGHT, CEO, Death Row Records: I
feel like this: I feel that the last word is always God, but
Pac saved my life. He's my... Pac saved my life. I got shot
in the head -- got grazed some other places -- but I still
got the bullet in my head. It's still here.... Before, I was
tryin' to get him to the hospital -- didn't make me realize
that I was shot. Because usually, when you get shot in the
head, the first thing the person do is panic. You know, BAM!
I'm shot in the head! I'm about to die! And once you do that,
you can't drive nowhere. My whole thing was Pac -- he was
shot. I'm like, "You're shot! Let me get you to the
hospital." I'm driving, telling him I'm gonna get him to
the hospital, kicked back, Pac looked at me and said,
"You know what? You need a doctor more than me. You the
one shot in your head." And we laughed the whole time
finding our way to the hospital. That's the conversation we
had. It wasn't... Pac was a man the whole time. It wasn't
that he was like, "OOOhhh, I'm shot!" He crackin'
jokes. He's like, "Yeah, they shot me." But he
said, "But you shot in your head. Look at your head. You
see how much it's bleedin'? Look how much it's
bleedin'." That was Pac. And I'm like, "Man, shut
up, we'll get you to the doctor."
MTV: So he was conscious on the way to the hospital?
KNIGHT: He was conscious on the way to the hospital, he
was conscious in the... labs, he was conscious after they did
MTV: What was the last thing that he said to you?
KNIGHT: That he loved me. You know, he was going... he was
gettin' there. I'm like, "Pac, you're gonna be the last
one left." But we talked this out. We talked it. He
said, "No, I'm straight. I love you, homey. I'm gonna be
straight." "I love you too." That's where he
MTV: There was a report earlier this week in "The New
York Post" that Tupac was looking to leave Death Row
Records. Is that true?
KNIGHT: You should answer that. You don't take a person
like Tupac, who, if you listen to every song on "All
Eyez On Me," every song on "Machiavelli,"
every time he do an interview, what's the first thing he say?
Death Row. Tupac loved Death Row. Tupac loved me. I loved
him. I mean, Tupac took Death Row to the next level. I mean,
we worked hard, we laid the foundation down, Snoop took the
baton and he ran with it. And he did a great job with it. But
Tupac got the baton, not only did he win the race, he
finished so fast he able to sit back and drink some thug
passion in, and come up with another play. If you'd asked
Tupac that question that was he planning on leaving Death
Row, he definitely would have cussed you out.
MTV: A lot of people in the hip hop community have said
that this incident will change hip hop. This is a really
landmark event -- tragic event, at that. And that the music
will probably never be the same. Do you see the direction of
Death Row changing? Is there going to be a different type of
music put out?
KNIGHT: Not at all. We gonna do thing we've been doing,
and set our records like I said before. My main goal is
fulfill Tupac's dreams. And Tupac would definitely never want
the music to change.... So we'll keep it the way he would
like it. I feel like that it's my job to make sure all Pac's
dreams is fulfilled, and he stay alive, and keep Death Row
alive. I'm not gonna go and say, "Well, just 'cause it's
a little crazy in this world, so, I'm gonna sit down
somewhere." I'm not gonna sit down nowhere. I'm gonna
walk the pattern, talk the same talk, fulfill all his dreams,
and lay real low.
Also Thursday night, Tupac's label-mate Snoop Doggy Dogg
told us that this is a very emotional time right now for him,
as well. Snoop's new album, "Tha Doggfather," is
due out November 5th, the same day as Tupac's EP
"Machiavelli." Meanwhile, as expected, in the wake
of Tupac's death, sales of his latest album "All Eyez On
Me" soared -- 40,000 copies moved in the past week; and
on Monday's "Billboard" pop albums chart the album
leaps from number 69 to number 18. Tupac's previous album,
"Me Against The World," also got a sales bump, and
re-enters the chart at number 99. As for Tupac's posthumous
"Machiavelli" EP, its cover will bear a painting,
commissioned by Tupac before his death, that will seem
prophetic: it shows Shakur on a cross, with bullet holes in
his body, and light pouring through the holes along with his
blood. Also stuck to the cross are notes naming the many
cities in which Tupac had run-ins with the law.
Speaking of prophetic, Wednesday night MTV premiered the
latest video from "All Eyez On Me," for the track
"I Ain't Mad Atcha," directed a month ago by Tupac
himself, with the help of J. Kevin Swain. The video opens
with Tupac being shot to death by an unknown assailant, then
follows him to heaven, where he's greeted by a Redd Foxx
look-alike, and raps against a background populated by
likenesses of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Junior,
and other deceased black music stars.
Two memorials to Tupac were announced this week: one, for
Thursday morning in Los Angeles. It was promptly canceled by
its organizer, Death Row Records, which said it could not
find a venue big enough to satisfy fan demand. The Nation of
Islam set Sunday as a "Hip Hop Day of Atonement" at
a mosque, once used by Malcolm X, in New York City's Harlem
district. The Nation's youth coordinator Conrad Mohammed said
the event would "call for an end to the maddening
destruction of the black community" -- sentiments echoed
in a letter to Tupac, acquired by MTV News, that his
step-father Mutulu Shakur wrote upon learning of Tupac's
death. Mutulu, a Black Panther in jail for helping another
Panther trying escape prison, wrote, "Will your
levitation be the awakening of us all? The division
unsettling to our dreams and goals... Your passing demanding
repentance and resistance." We got more reaction to
Tupac's murder last weekend in Las Vegas, where fans held a
vigil at the intersection where Tupac was killed, and from
rappers in Los Angeles who were taping MTV next "Rock
and Jock" game.
DAPHNE, 36: We know what his music was about. Lot of
people, some people don't. But we know his music was down for
our people. We listen to it. We have it. We know the
messages, y'know, the words that he's saying and everything.
And, you know, we miss him. Its just like I'm losing a son.
EMMITT, 22 (gesturing to a large tattoo on his stomach):
That's for like, all the pain that we done went through. I
suffered the same life he just suffered, living that street
life, that thug life. All of it's real. Just 'cause you get
famous don't mean nothing. Enemies still catch up with you.
MAN 1: I looked up the night Tupac died, they pronounced
him dead, and I seen one star in the sky and it was kind of
hazy 'cause it was cloudy. but you know what I figured is
that was Tupac... you know what I'm sayin'? That's how I
looked at it.
WOMAN 1: Only God should judge Tupac. We should not,
nobody should say whether he was a thug, he didn't represent
this, he didn't represent that. God should judge that man,
you know? And I just say, I hope he rests in peace. I'll see
him at the crossroads.
SPINDERELLA, Salt N' Pepa: I hope his life is an example
to a lot of kids out there. He spoke of a lot of things in
his music, and that's because he went through a lot, y'know?
So, the things that he said, hopefully, it'll teach these
kids out there that are tryin' to run around, doin' this,
doin' bad things and everything, that there is life ahead.
Life goes on.
METHOD MAN: This is an eye-opener right here. Hopefully,
for all the youth, kids, I mean, even the grown-ups,
everybody, I hope this is an eye-opener, man. Word up. 'Cause
they should see, right now, the violence is not the key, and
that it's real. Bullets is real, guns is real, you know, all
that stuff is real, man. It's up to us as artists to take
responsibility for what we're saying in our records and on
our albums and things of that nature, you know. But it's
like, you can't water down the hip hop, you can't water down
the ghetto. It's like, when those shots go off, the kid, the
average kid in the ghetto can't close his eyes to it. This is
not a television show, this is reality, real-life drama.