Even many die-hard Tupac Shakur fans do not know that before the legendary artist’s passing he created a group for himself, childhood friend Yaki Kadafi, and a then 13-year-old ‘Pac christened Candyman 187. The trio was collectively known as The Havenotz.
Tha Havenotz were started by, and included, Tupac Shakur and Yaki Kadafi along with Candyman 187. After the deaths of Tupac and Kadafi in 1996, the group’s development ground to a halt.
Since then Candyman 187 and Yaasmyn Fula (mother of Yaki Kadafi) have been working toward rebuilding and reuniting Tha Havenotz. Also a huge contributor and part of the management team is Leila Steinberg, Tupac’s original manager.
Lead by Tupac’s ‘little brother’ Candyman 187, Tha Havenotz are a group of talented rap artists, writers and producers who are concerned about the messages being relayed through today’s hip-hop and rap.
Many of the group members are pioneers of hip-hop and rap bringing back the “REAL” issues that affect those who listen to their lyrics. From politics to social stigmas, Tha Havenotz have focused their message on today’s struggles which are similar to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s, The Black Panther Movement of the 70’s and the Crack and AIDS epidemic of the 80’s.
Most recently in 2004, Candyman 187 was able to introduce a new generation of Havenotz who continue where the original group left off. The new Havenotz are a fusion of the young and the old. The revamped group consists of Candyman 187, Storm, Shock G, and Money B.
Tha Havenotz “Family Tree” consists of other well known rappers and individuals such as Leila Steinberg, Freehand Profit, Tim Armstrong, Jona, Paul Zero, Nicholas “Nickerish” Bradley, Zach Bursch, Akiyele, Justin A. aka Broly, Pat’s Justice, The Circle (Rich Stites, Bibi McGill, Odie, Aaron, and TJ), Mg, Assassin, S-Endz aka Turi, Mopreme Shakur, Ant D.O.G, Hussein Fatal, Taje, Treach (Naughty By Nature), NoName aka Gold Fronts, 2 Fly Eli, B. Willz, 923, Macadoshis, Division X, Funktasticz, Da Noses, Yo Yo, George Clinton, Stephen Dunn, OG Pee Wee, 50 Niggaz, Mutulu Shakur, and Sekou Odinga.
Candyman 187 is equal parts street poet, gangster rapper and sinner on his way to Hip Hop sainthood. He has taken in the dreamers, hustlers and talents that society labels black sheep, the degenerates and the hopeless. He has been able to stay ahead of the artistic curve of an ever-changing pop culture by being true to himself. With a team of artists, musicians and producers behind him by the name of The Havenotz, which believes in loyalty, family, and changing the world, Candyman 187 is set to bring a new era to Hip-Hop.
The group has taken L.A by storm with shows that rival most big name tours; they have show-goers amazed and coming back for more. Not your typical MC and DJ setup, Candyman 187 outshined national headliners with a 13 piece live band making sure that every last sound was heard and felt. He proves to be an unstoppable force even before his first major release. Having won Album of the Year and Artist of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards, the Havenotz prove that old school Hip-Hop still has a strong force in the Hip-Hop industry.
“If you know about Thug Life, it stood for ‘The Hate You Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody,’ and we were supposed to be the infants, we were supposed to be the lost generation,” explained the now 27-year-old Candyman of The Havenotz to HipHopDX on Wednesday (July 27th). “It was like, when they talk about society the best way to judge our society is by its children. And, I was the child. So it was like, Look at these children, and look at what you’ve put them through, and look at how they’re being raised.”
Candyman 187 Explains Meeting Tupac Shakur As A Youth
Candyman was raised in Los Angeles, California but made frequent trips to visit family on the east coast. And because of a familial connection, he first met Tupac as a troublesome 10 year-old.
“[I was] just doing a lot of stupid things,” he recalled of the juvenile hell he was raising circa 1993, “and we all shared a lot of the same family members and people just kinda brought us together over time. And Tupac knew I had came from a pretty crazy background, and my life was pretty hectic. And he saw I guess – I’m speaking from what the elders have told me, is that he felt that he saw a lot of him in me, and that kinda drew him to me.”
The ‘Pac influence is clearly evident in Candyman’s recent video, “Show Em All.”
“He was a big brother, a father figure, a mentor and a teacher,” said Candyman of Tupac’s role in his life during his wonder years. “If it wasn’t for him and Kadafi, I wouldn’t be here. And I’ll always appreciate them and love them for that, but I feel like at this point in my life everything I’m doing, every step I take, every move I make, everything I do is in their memory but at the same time you won’t hear a lot of songs where I’m like, ‘This is dedicated to Tupac.’ Or, ‘This is dedicated to Kadafi.’ ‘Cause, I feel like my whole life is dedicated to them. Everything I do is representing them. And the best way I can show them love and respect is by growing up and being successful.”
While an unofficial Havenotz EP was compiled and released by fans in 2009 from loose tracks Candyman recorded in recent years and let leak to the ‘Net, 187 is hesitant to let loose of the original Havenotz music that was recorded in the mid-‘90s.
“It’ll come out eventually,” he explained, “but like I said, my biggest thing is I don’t want my career and my name to be based on it. … I wanna be remembered as Candyman, not ‘Tupac’s Candyman.’ For me I feel like every teacher wants the student to surpass them, or at least meet ‘em at the level they expected from them. And I don’t think I can do that by being in his shadow, or releasing the music we did, or putting him on every song I do.”
“On the Internet a lotta cats will be like, ‘Oh, he’s ridin’ off of ‘Pac’s name,’” he added. “And people that know me know that’s [as] far from the truth as it could be. I’m big into books and philosophy, and [in] The 48 Laws of Power one of the things it says is you don’t ever wanna be in somebody so great’s shadow that you can’t get out of it. And that was my thing, I never wanted to be Tupac’s robot. ‘Cause I don’t think that’s what Tupac expected of me. He expected all of us to go out there and be our own men. That’s why he treated us [like men] and taught us the things that he did over time was so we could go out there and make a living for ourselves.”
While Candyman promises the original Havenotz music will eventually see the light of day, and that a new lineup of The Havenotz will soon release music, his first priority is his first official solo project in the more than 15 years since his early recordings with Tupac.
“My life kinda took a spiral after a few things, and I had to get my head right,” he explained to DX of the delay in getting his first formal product ready for release, his daring double-disc debut, If Tomorrow Never Comes: Chasing The Pain (due online and in stores this fall.)
“I was talking to basically a person that’s like my mother, Yaasmyn Fula,” he explained of the origins of his album title. “That was Kadafi’s mom. I was talking to her and she was like, ‘One of my favorite quotes was always James Dean’s
‘live as if you will die today, and dream as if you will live forever.’
… And she was like, ‘You know you always live your life – all you boys, all my sons always lived your life like tomorrow was never coming.’ And I was like, ‘Well, coming from where we came from, and going through the things we did, tomorrow was never promised to us.”
Candyman 187 Explains How Snoop Dogg Helped Him After Years Apart
A self-admitted “gamble” for a first album, Candyman’s 24-song platter will be a safer bet for consumers to put their money on thanks to appearances from established names like Jim Jones, E-40, Yo-Yo, Digital Underground, and legendary funksters George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. The album’s lead single, the Electro-driven “High Off The Fame,” features a surprisingly high-profile cameo from Snoop Dogg.
“From back in the day, with my relationship with Tupac, [I] already had a relationship with Snoop [Dogg],” explained Candyman of how he collared the doggfather for his first official single produced by longtime Snoop sound provider Meech Wells. “So, it seemed like it was the only right way to go for the first single. And being an artist from California, and from Los Angeles, I wanted to rep the west coast without hatin’ on any other side of the world.”
“It surprised me, to be honest with you,” he added of Snoop’s appearance, “’cause I hadn’t talked to him or seen him in years. And to see him be as humble as he was, and as cool about it as he was, was really cool. And after me and him really had a good sit-down talk he was like, ‘I really feel like you’re doing a lot for the west coast … and I wanna show you love and support you however I can.’”
Another artist that grew from the N.W.A. family tree has shown his love and support to Candyman 187: one of the original members of N.W.A.’s posse who a few years later would top the charts with his smooth smash “Knockin’ Boots,” a hit ironically produced by Johnny J, the now deceased former lead producer for Tupac.
“I do,” replied 187 when asked if he gets mistaken for the original Candyman. “That’s part of the reason why ‘Pac put the 187 in the name when he gave it to me. … I do get confused for him. And much love and respect to him. That dude put it down before I ever could, so I always gotta give it up to people that were here before me. … I ran into him at a show I did with Digital Underground and we talked about it and it was all cool.”
Memberz of Tha Havenotz
* 2Pac aka Makaveli
* Yaki Kadafi
* Candyman 187
* Candyman 187
* Shock G
* Mac Mall
* Ray Luv
* Hussein Fatal
* Majesty Of Live Squad
* S-Endz aka Turi
* Ant D.O.G.
* Freehand Profit
* Akiyele Seals
* Pat’s Justice
* DJ Wicked from STN Prod.
* Darren Pitts
* Mr. Loco of Wize Guyz Global
* Donny Rizzo
AllHipHop.com: Who’s presently in Tha Havenotz?
Candyman 187: It’s me, Shock G., Money B., Donnie Rizzo, Storm, Ray Luv, and Mac Mall. We also have extended family, Treach from Naughty by Nature, Mutulu and Afeni Shakur, Fatal Hussein, and a couple of other brothers from back in the day.
AllHipHop.com: Who were the founding members?
Candyman 187: It was originally me, Tupac, and Yaki Khadafi.
AllHipHop.com: The album was originally scheduled to come out before Pac’s death. After the tragedy, the project was put on hold, but what took so long to get it out?
Candyman 187: I was like 13 when Pac died – now I’m 22. After Pac and Kadafi passed, my world came crumbling down. Pac was like a brother to me. He took me in as a kid. It all took a lot out of me. I was like, ”F**k the Rap game.” But I always credit Dr. Mutlu Shakur, Yaasmyn Fula [Khadafi’s mom], and Moreen Shakur as being people that lifted me up again. They were like, ”This meant too much to Pac. He did this for you. You can’t give it up now. You’re the only surviving member, so you go to get back on it to really do it.” Everyone was down to get on and help me with it. It became the dream that Pac originally had for it.
AllHipHop.com: Being that young, how did you and Pac first hook up?
Candyman 187: To cut a long story short, I was doing a lot of dumb stuff when I was a kid. People that knew Pac or even fans know what he called, ”Candy.” During our first meeting, he was like, ”Oh, so you must be the Candy Man?” The ”187,” came later because there was another cat, ”Knock’n booty Candy Man,” doing his thing, so we changed it.
At the time, I used to write poetry. Pac was the most humble man that I had ever met. He was like, ”Yo, I heard that you do poetry? Let me hear it.” I read a little of it for him and then he told me to rap it. I said that I couldn’t rap. He said what do you think my rapping is? That’s my poetry. You have to put feelings into it. He took me aside and over the course of time, showed me how to rap. Pac was a teacher. I guess he took a liking to me. He took me in as a little brother and became that role model for me.
AllHipHop.com: How did the project come together?
Cm187: The idea for the Havenotz was around as far back as the Digital [Underground] days. On ”Holla If You Hear Me,” the original version that was not released, Pac shouted out to the Havenotz. He said, ”5-0 can’t fade the Havenotz.’‘ His idea was there. We were the young cats that really didn’t give a fk. We were the wild bunch. When he said, “T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.: The Hate that U Give Little Infants F*ks Everybody.” We were those little infants. It was me, Pac and [Khadafi]. We were gonna be the craziest cats out there. Plus we had Thug Life and Outlawz backing us. Who was gonna f**k with us?
AllHipHop.com: In reviving Tha Havenotz, Shock G has been very instrumental. Tell me about how that happened?
Candyman 187: I ran into him two years back at a Tupac birthday bash that I had put together. It was also a Prisoners of War fundraiser for Pacs step-father, Dr. Mutulu Shakur. I ran into him and Money B. We vibed off of each other and when I got back into the Rap game, they was like, ”What do you need brother?” Everybody that was real family to Pac, felt that they need to protect me, like they have to do for me what they couldn’t do for him at times. Shock, Money and the rest of the crew have created a wall around me. They have always watched out for me. When I was working on the solo album, they would give me advice. They’re family to me.
AllHipHop.com: What’s the name of your solo album and when will it be available?
Candyman 187: I’m putting out a solo album along with the group album. The group album should be out in the later end of the summer. My solo should be out in a week or so. I havent decided on a title yet, but it will most likely be called, The End of the Line. Shock did a remix of ”So many Tears.” We changed up the beat a little bit, so it’s not even called that anymore. Its a dedication track.
AllHipHop.com: What about the Havenotz project?
Candyman 187: My solo and the Havnotz, right now were looking for the right label and the right offer. It’s not just the money, but about freedom. We don’t want to be on a label that limits what we say and what we do. Coming from where we come from and this whole thing being Pac’s baby, it’s gotta be better than just the average album.
AllHipHop.com: Are the original Havenotz tracks still intact or have you changed them since?
Candyman 187: There are a couple of surprises in store for you all. It won’t be out anytime soon, but definitely some surprises.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, okay. So, was the media-hyped persona the same Pac that you knew?
Candyman 187: No, not at all. The Pac that I knew was a very loving and caring person. He was truthful and a times a serious person, a teacher. The media personified the image of Pac when they had him almost, cased up. Pac didn’t come out to war with the world. It wasn’t until the world came at him, did he go right back at them. That’s Panther principals, but for any man really. Pac wasn’t about to let anyone say anything about him and get away with it. The rapper Pac was Tupac the rapper. Tupac the person, was different than what everyone saw him as. He was a real thug; he was a real dude and wouldn’t back down from anyone. But there was also a loving and caring side that made him come to a cat-like me and others that were coming up. He was a celebrity, but also made time to call, talk or drop food off at my house. That was the Pac that I knew. He was the same person that told me that thugs cry. Real men don’t, but thugs do. The love was his essence. He put money in my hand and made me promise to graduate. He put his chain around my neck saying, ”Keep this, you’re a Havenot.” It’s a part of me.
AllHipHop.com: What are some misconceptions that people have about Pac?
CM: Like [the way] Ali boxed, Pac rapped to get his point across. He was very articulate, but he knew for him to reach the world and other cats in the street he would have to be their CNN. He was an educated as hell. You could sit down and have a conversation with him about any subject and he would probably know more than you. He was a thug; he wasn’t backing down from anyone. He used to say that they can take everything away from you, but not your mind. That’s something that I will always remember til’ the day that I pass. I give thanks and praise to him for that.
AllHipHop.com: I really want to focus on Pac’s final days. Firstly, was Tha Havenotz project supposed to come out through Death Row? There’s speculation over Pac’s focus at the end of his life?
Candyman 187: I don’t know. As far as I know, it was supposed to be released on Makaveli Records. We have nothing but for love for Death Row, but none of us were artists for them.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about Suge’s use of Pac’s persona after his death?
Candyman 187: That’s what Pac would have wanted. Pac would want his music out there. Suge was around Pac a lot when he was on Death Row. I love both albums that they put out. They’ve put out a lot of good albums. To me, that’s him honoring Pac. That’s Suge paying his respects. To make sure that what Pac would want out there, is out there. Someone recently asked me if I thought that Pac had changed when he joined up with Death Row. I told him, ”No. Pac changed when he got shot and sent to jail. Death Row probably added on an extra year to his life. Them getting him out of jail and added on some extra life to him. Suge loved Pac. They were live together. You can’t take that from anyone. They held him down when the world was against him.” Thug Life, Death Row, the Outlawz, and Havenotz were with him. We were like, ”We’re gonna ride or die with this cat.”
AllHipHop.com: How will you continue to educate on Pac’s legacy?
Candyman 187: We’re about to put this book out to show that even at birth, Pac and [deceased Outlaw member] Yak [Khadafi] were inseparable. They went through everything together. They couldn’t be separated for too long. Two months after Pac passed, Yak did as well. It will be called, The King and the Prince: the Legacy and Life of Tupac Shakur and Yaki Fula. We went through a lot of old pictures. It’s pictures that you may have seen and a lot that you haven’t. People will get to view inside their lives and at the same time get a little history about it. It’ll be a cool book. It should be out in a few weeks.
AllHipHop.com: That’s s dope. I know a lot of people would be into reading something like that. I would say mothers and the youth. They can read it with their kids that are into the rawer side. It will show balance.
Candyman 187: That’s the thing that people don’t realize about Pac. He was versatile. He could release a song like, ”Brenda’s Got a Baby,” but then at the same time release something completely different. People don’t touch on his loving and caring side. They really need to look at those things. Pac was as real as he could be. He even said it himself, that he wasn’t the best rapper out there, but he was the realest.
That’s how I try to be. All I’m trying to do is be the realest that Candyman I can be. I may not be a real a Tupac. I’m not Tupac. And for those out there that are looking for Pac to come back, well I’m sorry, but I’m not him. I’m going to take the little bit of game that he gave me and use that. I’m gonna take the little bit of game that Shock G, Yaasmyn, Money B and Mutulu gave me and use that. You’re gonna hear that little bit of Pac in me because he taught me to flow, but none of us are him. The Outlawz are out there doing their thing, they love and respect him, but their not going to be him. Same goes for Thug Life. And that’s how you know the realness of the man. None of them changed, they all stayed the same. Even after his death. Now that’s what realness is.
Follow Candyman 187 on Twitter (@Candyman187) and Facebook.