Tupac Amaru Shakur im Interview
June 1996, New York City, Vibe Magazine
How about Juice? Was that a turning point in acting?
It was a tuning point in terms of acting, black movies, my life, my career, rappers doing movies and getting credit for it.
Are you doing another one?
Yeah, I'm working on one right now with Tim Rob and Thandie Newton called Gridlock.
When is it coming out?
It should be out in January or February. I'm doing the soundtrack also. I feel very positive about it. It's a great movie, totally different. Hopefully, it will do something for me. If nothing else at best it'll just prove that I can show up to the set on time and still have an album that sells five million while I'm doing my shit. It'll just show that I work hard. Also it will show that I should not be in jail 'cause in the little bit of time I've been out. I've showed that I can be rehabilitated out here with everybody else. It's the money that rehabilitates me not the jail.
What motivates you?
Poverty, needs, wants, pain. No I'm dealing with a more military type of philosophy-to mix the street life with respected, known and proven military philosophy. So when I'm rapping and talking that hardcore shit, at least it'll be from a military mindset.
What about your father, do you have any relationship with him?
I thought my father was dead all my life. After I got shot, I looked up there was this nigga that looked just like me. And he was my father; that's when I found out. We still didn't take no blood test but the nigga looked just like me and the other nigga's dead so now I feel that I'm past the father stage. I do want to know him and I do know him we did talk and he did visit and help me when I was locked down, but I'm past that. What I want to do is form a society in which we can raise ourselves; so we can become our own father figures and the big homies can become their father figures and then you grow up then it's your turn to be a father figure to another young brother. That's where I want to start. Nine times out of ten though we would want them to be there, they can't be depended on to be there. Now, some of the mothers can't be there because they doing their thing[working] I can't blame them, they gotta do what they gotta do. So I think the youth should raise themselves since they got lofty ideas about what's theirs and their rights, what they should deserve. Since you can't whup their asses, these muthafuckers should get out and work at fifteen. I want to be apart of the generation that builds the groundwork for us to raise each other.
In the VIBE article, you mentioned an organization that you were starting with Mike Tyson. What happened with that?
Now I'm doing it with Death Row. I was going to do it myself and I found out when I was about to be sentenced to jail that there was a spot called "A Place Called Home" I was about to be sent to jail for an old gun case that I had. The judge was like "You can tell your side of who you are and the prosecutor gave this big-fat envelope of everytime I got arrested and all this stuff that made me look like a crazed animal. We got someone who didn't work for us to write my life's story talking about everybody in my family and the people that I helped. This lady from the community center wrote as well. We were planning already to do this big concert with me and my homeboys to raise money to have a center in North Central were we can have the "at risk" kids come to a spot that they can call home-where they can get guidance, tutoring, love, nurturing; we're going to do a spot like that. So instead of it just being a program with me and Tyson like I planned it, cause it's me sitting in the penitentiary thinking, is now moved into this program called "A Place Called Home." that I'm working closely with. There's also a program called "Celebrity Youth League" with me, Hammer, Suge and all of these sports figures are each going to sponsor a youth group all year in football, baseball and basketball. We sponsor the team, buy the uniforms, hire the coach and start out own little league.
How do you relax from all this that you're doing?
There's three ways: shopping, driving down Sunset with the top down on any car and being with my homeboys. Not necessarily the older homies but the younger one's. Vibing off of what they're talking about and what's going on, and dropping whatever I have to drop to them. Then It's not like I'm doing this shit in vain.
Do you keep in touch with old friends?
On a whole, I don't have any friends. Friends come and go; I've lost my trust factor. I believe I have people who think they're my friends. And believe that there are people probably in their heart are friendly towards me or are friends to me. But they're not my friends because what I learned is that fear is stronger than love. So soon as somebody scarier comes along, they won't be my friend anymore. I learned that on the floor at Times Square--so I don't have friends, I have family. You're either my all the way family or just somebody on the outside.
Are you tight with your family?
Yeah, we took it back to the old school. We got the head of the family, we listen to the rules and regulations, order and organization. Now we're a living breathing family when before we were a dying-dysfunctional family. We still got problems but know we're learning how to deal with it.
What religion are you?
I'm the religion that to me is the realist religion there is. I try to pray to God every night unless I pass out. I learned this in jail, I talked to every God (member of the Five Percent Nation) there was in jail. I think that if you take one of the "O's" out of "Good" it's "God", if you add a "D" to "Evil", it's the "Devil". I think some cool motherfucker sat down a long time ago and said let's figure out a way to control motherfuckers. That's what they came up with-the bible. Cause if God wrote the bible, I'm sure there would have been a revised copy by now. Cause a lot of shit has changed. I've been looking for this revised copy-I still see that same old copy that we had from then. I'm not disrespecting anyone's religion, please forgive me if it comes off that way, I'm just stating my opinion. The bible tells us that all these did this because they suffered so much that's what makes them special people. I got shot five times and I got crucified to the media. And I walked through with the thorns on and I had shit thrown on me and I had the theif at the top; I told that nigga "I'll be back for you. Trust me, is not supposed to be going down, I'll be back. I'm not saying I'm Jesus but I'm saying we go through that type of thing everyday. We don't part the Red Sea but we walk through the hood without getting shot. We don't turn water to wine but we turn dope fiends and dope heads into productive citizens of society. We turn words into money. What greater gift can there be. So I belive God blesses us, I belive God blesses those that hustle. Those that use their minds and those that overall are righteous. I belive that everything you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that's bad, I'm going to suffer for it. But in my heart, I belive what I'm doing in my heart is right. So I feel like I'm going to heaven. I think heaven is just when you sleep, you sleep with a good conscience-you don't have nightmares. Hell is when you sleep, the last thing you see is all the fucked up things you did in your life and you just see it over and over again, cause you don't burn. If that's the case, it's hell on earth cause bullets burn. There's people that got burned in fires, does that mean they went to hell already? All that is here. What do you got there that we ain't seen here? What, we're gonna walk around aimlessly like zombies? That's here! You ain't been on the streets lately? Heaven now, look! (reffering to his plush apartment) we're sitting up here in the living room-big screen TV- this is heaven, for the moment. Hell is jail I seen that one. Trust me, this is what's real. And all that other shit is to control you. If the churches took half the money that they was making and gave it back to the community, we'd be alright. If they took half the buildings that they use to "praise God" and gave it to motherfukers who need God, we'd be alright. Have you seen some of these got damn churches lately? There's one's that take up the whole block in New York. There's homeless people out here. Why ain't God lettin' them stay there? Why these niggas got gold ceilings and shit? Why God need gold ceilings to talk to me? Why does God need colored windows to talk to me? Why God can't come where I'm at where he sent me? If God wanted to talk to me in a pretty spot like that, why the hell he send me here then. That makes ghetto kids not belive in God. Why? So that's wrong religion-I belive in God, I belive God puts us where ever we want to be at. They didn't make sense that God would put us in the ghetto. That means he wants us to work hard to get up out of here. That means he's testing us even more. That makes sense that if you're good in your heart, you're closer to God but if you're evil than your closer to the devil; that makes sense! I see that everyday all that other spooky shit, don't make sense. I don't even belive, I'm not dissin' them but I don't belive in the brothers, I've been in jail with 'em and having conversations with brothers; "I'm God, I'm God." You God, open the gate for me. You know far the sun is and how far the moon is, how the hell do I pop this fuckin' gate? And get me free and up outta here. Then I'll be a Five Percenter for life.
What type of woman would it take to settle you down?
A very, very strong woman. One who's more in love with me because I could be more in love with her than she is. Everytime I fall in love with a woman I don't fall in love with the woman she is, I fall in love with the woman she could be. I haven't found a woman yet, that has met up to my standards. And I'm sure I don't fit up to everyone's standards. But I haven't found one yet, but I found one that I think has the potential to be the rawest woman in the world. I feel like it's natural for a man especially being black to feel like he's the king and he's looking for his queen. That's where I'm at right now. You can't be a king until you've made yourself; Until you've done something. And I've accomplished my goals that made me a man. Now I feel like I'm a man, now I set out goals to make me a king. Not a king of anyone else but me. Nobody else is under my rule but me. I made my self into a king, now I need a queen to be happy so I can be a teacher and a father, I can't be that until I find a queen-So I'm stuck in limbo.
A lot of your east coast fans feel like your new alleigance to the west coast is a disloyalty to the east.
That's so much nonsense, Poppycock! (laughs) It's not a new allegiance to the west coast, I've been on the west coast all this time. Some people, not all, some people on the east coast are on their dicks so hard, they never heard me say that I'm living on the west coast. It's just by me keeping it real, I always said where I come from. I always gave New York their props. On Me Against The World, I took a whole song to give it up. So now on teh next alvum, whin I wanna give it up, for my home, where I'm at, everybody got a problem. Why don't they have a problem with Biggie saying Brooklyn in th e house every fucking show he do. They just did a Sprite commercial with the "Bridge" and KRS, why isn't it hip-hop when I do it? Everybody else can have a beef within the music, talk about differences and it's ok. It's music, it's hip-hop, it's groundbreaking. When I do it, it's war. That's all I'm doin g. All I'm doing is saying that I'm tired of you talking about where you're from; If that's what we're gonna do now. We was doing it like hip-hop was one nation. I have proof to say what I was doing-I've done more for the east coast than the east coast did. I put more guns in east coast niggas hands than east coast niggas did when they came out here. I put them niggas on to more weed gates and weed spots and safe havens and safe spots than the east coast did. I put more rappers on than they did. I gave Biggie his first shows! I was that bridge that niggas used to walk on to get over here. I explained it, I the one that told you. I'm why all these niggas are running around with a gangbanger on their payroll now.
Is there still a beef going on with you and Biggie?
There was never a beef, only a difference of opinion. My homeboy Suge gave me the best advice that I could ever get from anybody. When people ask him if he's beefing with Bad Boy and with Puffy, he's says it' s like me going to the playground to pick on little kids. That's like me being mad at my little brother cause he's getting cash now. I'm not mad at that, I'm just mad at my little brother when he don't respect me. And when you don't respect me, I'm a spank that ass. I don't give a fuck how rich you got on the block I'm your big brother. I'm a break your big ass down. That's my only point. I feel as though he wrong, he got out of hand. He got seduced by the power-not because he's an evil person, but because money is evil; if it's not handled right. If you lose your composure you could do anything. Fear got stronger than love and niggas did things that they weren't really supposed to do. They know in their hearts, that's why their in hell now. They can't sleep. That's why they're telling all the reporters and all the people "Why they doing this? They fucking up hip-hop, blah, blah, blah" cause they in hell. They can't make money, they can't go anywhere, they can't look at themselves cause they know the prodigal son has returned. I'm alive; the ghost is walking around. And I'm around talking, in jail I didn't talk. Now, everybody who thinks that I disrespected, I love my east coast fans. I'm from there. I'm eating New York Pizza, I drive New York jeeps but I'm saying let's keep it real for a second. If you're half the lover of music that you are, go back and study. Study how Party And Bullshit was me before I met Biggie. You don't hear my style in his raps. Study how after I met Biggie, Ready To Die comes out and his whole style changes study. Study why I would be mad when half of the major New York rappers or their managers, or their agents or their somebody was there when I got shot-and nobody couldn't give me no information. Just study that. Study how when Wu-Tang got their chain snatched at six-six-duece, I not only found who did it but gave them the message that if they wanted to see the niggas that did it, they could see them. Man to Man, just you and them-no guns, no nothing if you feel like that. That's all I ask for. If you're going to act like a gangster or a "G" or a king of New York, I'm a expect that. And when you don't come through, then I'm going to want to crush your empire. And that's what it's time for.