2Pac, Mouse Man & East Side Crew & Born Busy

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Pictured, from left 2Pac, middle row fifth from right, as a middle school student. Dana Smith aka Mouse Man, bottom left, and 2Pac with family friends.

Dana Smith aka Mouse Man was Tupac’s friend during his teenage years in Baltimore. Together, they created rap groups East Side Crew & Born Busy. Which is where Tupac’s first recorded audio came from. At the young age of 14 years old, “Born Busy” created their first song “Babies Having Babies.


Gerard (High School Friend): “First time I ever saw Tupac, he was in eighth grade. I seen this kid that had this shirt with the old school iron-on letters, MC NEW YORK. And he was rhyming. All these people was around him — even back then. We was adversaries at first, but we formed a crew. Born Busy and shit, MC New York, DJ Plain Terror, Ace Rocker, and my man D on the beat box. Taking mad peoples out–the invincibles. Then we started writing little rhymes for Jada (Pinkett). Jada was rhyming a little bit too. Don”t Sleep.”

Songs recorded during ‘Born Busy” era:

Babies Having Babies ft Dana Mouse Smith (Acapella)
1987
Produced by Born Busy

Check It Out ft Dana Mouse Smith (Acapella)
1987
Produced by Born Busy

Terror On The Tables ft Ace Rocker (Acapella)
February 1988
Produced by Born Busy

That’s My Man Throwing Down ft Ace Rocker (Acapella)
Februaury 1988
Produced by Born Busy

I Saw Your Girl ft Ace Rocker (Acapella)
March 1988
Produced by Born Busy

Girls Be Tryin To Work A Nigga
April 1988
Produced by Born Busy

Mouse Man & 2Pac

Songs recorded featuring Mouse Man:

N.I.G.G.A., Black Cotton, What goes On & Niggaz in the Pen

Mouse Man, Baba Bojang aka Slick D and MC New York aka 2Pac

”In the mid-1980s, rap wasn’t yet the commercial juggernaut it has become—it was gaining popularity, but hadn’t arrived in the mainstream. The Enoch Pratt Free Library, ahead of the curve, sponsored a youth rap contest in November 1985. Tupac spotted a flier with “Calling All Rappers!” across the top, urging anyone under the age of 18 to “write the best rap about the Pratt Library and be eligible for a cash prize.” All entrants had to submit a written copy in advance (“No Profanity Allowed”), and the finalists performed at the library at Pennsylvania and North avenues.

Mouse Man & MC New York aka 2Pac / 1985

Tupac and Mouse Man created “Library Rap,” which Shakur wrote out in longhand, in black pen, on a piece of lined notebook paper, and Tupac and Mouse Man’s group The East-Side Crew entered the contest. Deborah Taylor, then the Pratt’s young adult services coordinator, organized the contest and remembers Tupac and Mouse Man as “very polite boys. They were nice kids.” She drove them to the contest because they didn’t have transportation.

Tupac and Mouse Man’s winning performance opened with Tupac declaring, “Yo’ Enoch Pratt, bust this!” and urging Baltimoreans to get library cards. They told kids to stay in school, learn to read, and “get all the credits that you need.” (Tupac’s handwritten verses now reside in the Pratt’s Special Collections archive, alongside works by H.L. Mencken and Edgar Allan Poe.)

Mouse Man & MC New York aka 2Pac

Taylor, who still works at the Pratt, recalls all the judges commenting on the same thing: The scrawny kid lit up the room with his rapping. “When Tupac performed,” she says, “you could not take your eyes off him.”

Tupac and Mouse Man performed whenever and wherever they could: for the drug dealers working on Old York Road, opening for rap group Mantronix at the Cherry Hill rec center, and even at neighborhood funerals. They also wrote rhymes with titles like “Babies Havin’ Babies” and “Genocide Rap” that reflected the political and social awareness Shakur inherited from his mother.

Mouse Man, 2Pac & Mopreme

“Tupac was always conscious of that shit,” says Mouse Man. “He schooled us on those sort of social justice issues, and hip-hop was the perfect outlet. It allowed us to say what was on our mind, and people listened.”

 

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