Strictly Dope & 2Pac – Benefits of Poverty / Strictly Representin’ (1987-1991)

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Strictly Dope & 2Pac – Benefits of Poverty / Strictly Representin’


Down with The Underground (Demo Tapes 1987-1991) 2Pac was 18 (1989) when he joined up the Bay Area group « Digital Underground » formed by Shock G, Money B, Chopmaster J, Dj Fuze… The group had their first recording in 1987 called « Underwater Rimes » and they signed in on Tonny Boy Records in 1989. Tupac was then recording as Mc New York in rap group Stricly Dope with Ray Luv Tyson and Chopmaster J. The last one eventually made Shock G listening to their tracks and they decided to invite ‘Pac to tour with the Digital Underground.

Pac drop then up his alias for a plain 2Pac (maybe first spelled 2-Pac). After that, Shock G and Money B decided to record « Same Song » with him. They gave the song for the movie “Nothing But Trouble” in late 1990. “Same Song” marked the first time a verse recorded by Tupac was actually released. With the success of it, Pac presented to Interscope demo tapes and started to record tracks for his first album.
Before 2Pacalypse Now (1991, Interscope), 2Pac was a member of various rap groups :
Two From The Crew
Born Busy (with Ace Rocker & Dj Plain Terror)
One Nation Mcees (with Ryan D of 51.50 Illegally Insane)
Strictly Dope (with Ray Luv & Chopmaster J of Digital Underground)

The only sessions that have been officially published are the closest to the Digital Underground/2Pacalypse Now sessions : Beginnings : The Lost Tapes (2007, Koch) (first available in 1997 by AIM as “1 in 21 : A Tupac Shakur Story” and then by ZYX as “The Lost Tapes” in 2000) with Striclty Dope. According to Chopmaster J, these tracks have been long time lost. The last 2 mixes of “Static” are from late 1990-early 1991 and contain a sample of Shock G’s line in “Same Song” (“Tupac, go ahead and rock”) which was originally spoken immediately before Tupac’s verse in that recording.

For the rest, there was a late project called “Early Years“, but it seems to have been shelved, blocked by Amaru (if this has really ever existed). This project would have compiled a lot of tracks from these various times. Project – The Early Years. There was as well a project of remixing the acapella tapes of Born Busy called “Shakurspeare” (after the name of the famous dramatist that Pac enjoyed to play at the art school in New York – cf. this trailer song), but the project seems to have been shelved as well.

1987-1991 – Benefits of Poverty / Strictly Representin’
“Down With The Underground” is a well known lyric from Tupac in “Same Song”, the song recorded in 1990 for Nothing But Trouble OST permits him to sign in on Interscope for the 2Pacalypse Now album in 1991. It’s a perfect title for a bootleg who looks like a demo tape gathering tracks Tupac made before signing, in order to give a good presentation of the artist’s skills. Here you can find tracks from :
Born Busy sessions (1987-1988) with Ace Rocker and Dj Plain Terror (at this time, they were writing lyrics for Jada Pinkett).
One Nation Emcees sessions (1988-1989) with Ryan D (who later will form the group 51.50 Illegally Insane).
Strictly Dope sessions (1989-1990), with Ray Luv & Chopmaster J (the last was also a Dj for Digital Underground).

We could imagine that the Lost Tapes were already lost at this time, except “Static” and were found back later like Chopmaster J explained himself about the publishing of the Lost Tapes in 2000. We can imagine that Chopmaster J makes Shock G listen to this lost session and so they decided to invite him to tour with them in 1989. Afterwhat Shock G and the Digital Underground decided to record songs with him in (1989-1990). They gave “Same Song” for the “Nothing But trouble” OST and the song became a huge hit. Tupac presented demo tape like that to Interscope, with probably “Static” as a top track.

01. Panther Power [remix] feat. Ray Luv / Chopmaster J & Dj Fuze
  • Strictly Dope sessions (1990). This is a re-recorded version with singing hook from an unknown woman and different verse from Ray Luv. This is then the third version of the song. We could imagine that maybe it is this song that Choplifter had chosen to make Shock G listen, and they remixed it for Interscope. The original version has been published in the Lost Tapes (2000/2007), and in 2003’s Resurrection OST.
02. Resist The Temptation / Big D The Impossible
  • Sounds like a Strictly Dope sessions from 1990. Remixed on Best of 2Pac, Part 1:Thug (2007, Amaru)
03. U Don’t Wanna Battle (I Thought U Knew) feat. Ryan D /
  • One Nation Emcees Sessions (1989-1990). This track will be re-recorded in 91 as a freestyle titled “I thought u knew” without the singing hook.
04. Check It Out feat. Ace Rocker / Dj Plain Terror – [acapella]
  • Born Busy Sessions (1988). 
05. All In The Daze Of A Criminal /
  • Sounds like a One Nation Emcees Sessions from 1989. This track will be remixed probably in early ’92 for the “Tales of 90’s Nigga” or for “Troublesome 21”.
06. That’s My Man Throwing Down feat. Ace Rocker / Dj Plain Terror – [acapella]
  • Born Busy Sessions (1988).
07. Tearz Of A Clown / Chopmaster J
  • Probably a Strictly Dope Sessions (1989-1990).
08. I Saw Your Girl feat. Ace Rocker / Dj Plain Terror – [acapella]
  • Born Busy Sessions (1988). There is a remix with piano under the voice, but the song is uncomplete.
09. Fantasy feat. Ryan D /
  • One Nation Emcees Sessions (1989)
10. Terrors On The Tables / Dj Plain Terror – [acapella]
  • Born Busy Sessions (1988)
11. Panther Power [original] feat. Ryan D /
  • One Nation Emcees Sessions (1988). Tupac re-recorded this song with Strictly Dope.
12. Never Be Beat [original] feat. Ryan D /
  • One Nation Emcees Sessions (1988). Tupac re-recorded this song with Strictly Dope.
13. Babies Having Babies feat. Ace Rocker / Dj Plain Terror – [acapella]
  • Born Busy Sessions (1987). Tupac will re-used the thema of this track for his big hit “Brenda’s got a baby” in 2Pacalypse Now in 1991.
14. Same Song [around the world mix] feat. Digital Underground / Chopmaster J & Shock G
  • Strictly Dope Sessions (1990) / Same Song (12”) (1991, Tommy Boy). We could think that this is not a remix but the original version of the song that they made listen to the film director of Nothing But Trouble. Then Shock G re-recorded the song for the soundtrack.
15. Freestyles feat. Ace Rocker / Dj Plain Terror – [acapella]
  • Born Busy Sessions (1988).
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