HitEmUp.com: First off, tell us a little about you and your background.
Gobi: My name is Gobi. I’m 38. I was born in Clapham, South London. My mom’s half English, half Iranian and my dad is full Iranian. I came to the US in 1979 right after the Iranian revolution and happened to move to a very conservative town called Irvine in Orange County, California. I went through a lot of racism and used to get my ass kicked for being a sandnigger, cameljockey, eye-ranian. I hated being here and it sucked being a foreigner in this country. I went to high school and college here. I studied marketing and business and hated it. I then sold homes for Century 21 for seven years. I fell in and out of love with an Iranian filmmaker and found my passion in life, which was film making. It was like God had blessed me with a passion at the age of 28. I guess I can thank my ex-wife for bringing the film option into my life. I then met Tracy Robinson and started going out with her. I moved to Los Angeles and started working on rap videos first as a production assistant, then as a producer and finally when I’ve got to meet Tupac, I was given an opportunity to direct my first music video, which was “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted.” I guess I gravitated to the black culture in America, ’cause you can’t get any lower on how you are treated than as black in America.
How did you meet Tracy? Was it through film making?
I met her at a wine tasting in Irvine and then we hooked up. One thing led to another and we were a couple, working 24/7.
For those, who don’t know, who is Tracy Robinson?
Tracy Robinson was a production assistant on one of Tupac’s first videos. She was so enamored and blown away by him that she went up to him and said, “Whatever you need, whenever you need it, I’m down.” She had been bit by the Tupac bug. She’s an African-American. When Pac got out of Dana Mora and went to Death Row, right after the “California Love” video, he asked his then assistant, Molly Monjauze, to search out Tracy, so she could produce all of his videos. I came with the package.
Right, so it was through Tracy you met Pac? Had you ever heard of him before then?
I’d heard of him briefly, but started listening to him after I met her. The first time it really hit home was a call Tracy got at 03:00 am one morning when Pac had been shot the first time in New York. She was devastated.
Right, so when did you first actually meet Pac?
I was taken to the Malibu house one day and introduced to Molly as Tracy’s partner. He was having a water gun fight with the Outlawz. I joined in. That’s when they called me a crazy Iranian.
[Laughs] What was your first impression of him when you first met him?
He was very cool, very warm and somewhat intimidating in that he had a certain energy that overtook the space he was in. After a few weeks he told us that we need to start going into production on a bunch of videos. We then decided that we needed to start a company with him. I had a company with the name 24/7, with which we became partners. Tupac owned 60 percent and me and Tracy owned 40 percent.
What videos did you work on?
I produced “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” “Hit ‘Em Up,” both versions of “How Do U Want It,” all three versions of “Made Niggaz,” “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted,” “All About U” and directed “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted,” “Made Niggaz” and should have gotten credit for “Hit ‘Em Up,” but didn’t.
How long after than was it you got into working on the videos and was “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted” the first video you, him and Tracy worked on?
“How Do U Want It” was the first, then “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted” and then all of the rest. He then started talking about the film ideas he wanted to do.
What was your job on “How Do U Want It?”
I was the producer on that one as well as on “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted.”
So this was your first experience in seeing Pac acting? As an experienced film maker, what was your first impression of him in front of the camera?
Yes, it was. He was on fire. He owned the camera and was completely at home. I was producing “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted” and the director that was supposed to be on it. He didn’t want to share credit with Tupac since it was Pac’s concept and backed out. Tracy, knowing that I wanted to direct, told him so and he said, “Let the motherfucker do it.” It was one of the best highs I have ever had. Every aspect of that video was a blessing. I did my thing and he pretty much signed off on whatever I was doing. I remember after one scene of shooting Pac and Snoop sitting on the red couch next to each other. After that take was shot, I just walked up to both of them and said, “You two are the shit, no wonder you’re making millions.”
There’s behind the scenes footage of Pac with the Outlawz at “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted” with Pac telling the Outlawz what to do full of energy. Was this a regular thing at the video sets?
I don’t remember them on “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted” as I do on “Hit ‘Em Up” or “Made Niggaz.” He told them what to do and how to be every step of the way. He led, they followed.
Suge said that Pac didn’t like Snoop all that much and only worked with him ’cause he was there. Do you think there’s any truth to that having worked with them both on that video?
None at all. I think Pac loved Snoop and vice versa.
You mentioned earlier about the idea to make short films. Were any of these actually shot?
“Made Niggaz” was the only short film idea we partially shot. A fight broke out on the set, so we had to shut down that shoot and that’s why “Made Niggaz” ended up being a video.
How much of it was filmed? Was it near completion?
Three out of four days were shot. It was basically the story of Buffy and Piggy coming to Los Angeles and trying to take over the coke game. Pac and the Outlawz were going to stop them in their tracks.
Do you know why the fight broke out?
Yes, one of the Outlawz and a very hard headed stunt man started mouthing off at each other. One of the video crew guys turned the lights out, which didn’t help the situation any.
There’s a circle version of “Made Niggaz” around in very poor quality. Can you tell us the deal with that?
I told the director of photography to put the camera on the table and let Pac and the rest move the camera themselves. That first take was an awesome performance, then the D.O.P. comes to me and says he forgot to turn the camera on. I then told Pac and the guys that it was so awesome that I’d like to shoot it again. Once the take and video were completed, I gave Death Row two versions. One with other footage and one with just that take. I haven’t seen it in years.
The one with the other footage I presume is the cuts with Jim Belushi and Pac from Gang Related, right?
Well, there were three versions. One with Piggy and Buffy being shot at as well as a bunch of cops being killed. It was mega violent.
Did Pac write the concept for “Made Niggaz” also?
He had the idea, I wrote the concept, just like with “Hit ‘Em Up.”
I take it “Hit ‘Em Up” came after “Made Niggaz” since you see some “Made Niggaz” footage in the background?
What was the atmosphere of the set of “Hit ‘Em Up” like?
It was fine. Pac and the Outlawz were having a blast, doing what they wanted to.
Were you present at “I Ain’t Mad At Cha?” Who wrote the concept for that video?
I produced that one. I think a writer wrote the concept, but again it was Pac’s ideas. Kevin Swain directed it.
Did you ever think anything of it that he was shot and killed in that video similar to what went down in Las Vegas? Did he at all talk about dying young around you the time you spent with him?
Nope, not around me. Those last eight months of his life, I think he was starting to be a bit more optimistic. Never around me, he was making long-term plans.
Why was “All About U” never fully released?
I’m really not sure. It was some sort of decision at Death Row and Interscope.
There were rumors on the Internet that Tupac planned to make videos for “Life Goes On,” “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” and “All Eyez On Me.” Are there any truth to these?
I never heard any of that. Wait till you see the “Life Goes On” that I did.
You’ll need to give us that to showcase on the site.
Did you ever get to read any of the scripts Pac wrote? What did you think of his skills as a writer?
I only heard of one. Live To Tell, which was hot. Very, very cool script. I hope his mom’s peeps make it one day.
They are in the actual process of making that one. Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m sort of out of the loop on that film, but the script was amazing and somewhat autobiographical.
We heard that Pac was in the process of making a living documentary. Any truth to it?
For sure. I shot all of the footage.
Can you give us any info on it?
It’s the same footage that has been pimped from me and used in Thug Angel: Life Of An Outlaw, Biggie & Tupac, Tupac: Resurrection and 2PAC 4ever. Don’t buy the last one. On one occasion, I suggested that I would like to start filming him non-stop at home, in the studio, on set, everywhere and so I did. I shot him footage and shot photos. It just made sense to do it. He was a living legend and at the top of his game. I often try to imagine what he’d be up to right now. Clothing, all sorts of business, airline, politics, you name it. He would have been into it by now. He’d have put Russell Simmons, P. Diddy and Jay-Z to shame by now.
How much footage roughly was shot? Was it near completion?
I had shot around 18 hours of which six hours was pretty much pure Pac.
For fuck sake, you need to make a DVD.
It’s all good. What’s supposed to happen will happen.
So do you think it will all come out one day? We Tupac fans are hungry for things like this.
I am doing my best to bend the broken bridges with Pac’s mom and I will do my best to put out everything that I think he would have been cool with. I have plans for a photo book and a movie. As I mentioned earlier, I’d like to do it all with Afeni Shakur’s blessings. I answer to Pac and don’t want to disrespect his moms.
Did you film any of the concert footage from Club 662 and the House Of Blues?
I shot the entire House Of Blues with my Hi-8 from the second floor. It was poor quality. Kevin Swain shot the whole thing with something like eight cameras on film.
Do you know if Afeni plans to release any of this footage? Does Kevin Swain own it? Who owns the footage?
I’m don’t really know what they plan on doing. The Kevin Swain footage was shot for Suge, so I’m not sure. My footage was just a part of me following Pac those last few weeks.
Did you by any chance film Tupac in Italy?
Nope, he wouldn’t let me go. I kept saying please, but he wanted to be alone with Kidada.
Was there any footage shot of Pac doing songs in the studios. If so, can you name any?
I shot footage of Pac in the studio doing the One Nation album. Songs off of that, but I think some of his lyrics have been lifted and used elsewhere.
“The Realist Killaz” on Tupac: Resurrection with 50 Cent?
That would be one of them.
Was that song a One Nation album song?
Yup, and the footage I’ve got is of Pac leaning on an arm and just listening to it. Very sad and pensive.
Were you aware of that most of the masters have been stolen from One Nation?
The songs, they don’t have the masters for them anymore.
I thought Afeni got everything back?
Damn, I’m sure someone powerful has them.
Were you present during any other studio sessions?
Can you give us any info on the book and movie you’re working on?
I’ll be able to tell you more about the film when I’m done with it in a few months. The book is called Thru My Eyez and was supposed to be out already, but had to be pushed back until the family’s Tupac: Resurrectionand Pac’s life story are out. The book shout be out, God willing, sometime in 2005. It’s a collection of photos that were taken in those last eight months and will come with some blurbs of what I saw going down those last eight months.
Out of all people on Death Row, who do you think Tupac respected the most?
I don’t know much about his relationship with Suge, but I think he loved Snoop.
Do you think he was happy there?
I think he was ready to be off of Death Row.
Why do you think Pac worked so much? The countless number of songs, the videos and the movies?
I’m not sure, but his schedule was surreal. Movies in the day, studio in between and videos at night.
Have you been a part of any of the videos released after Pac’s passing away?
None of them. I just got back in with the family. Believe me, I wish I had been.
Did you have an argument with Afeni or something?
I was inconsiderate and self-absorbed when Pac passed and thought that saving and fulfilling what I thought his legacy should be or he would want it to be. I thought this was more important than anything or anyone else. I didn’t realize that I was dealing with a woman that had just lost her son. My timing was off and the humility I’ve learned over the last seven years has taught me worlds.
Can we talk about the events leading up to Las Vegas?
I’d like to talk about what a few people have said about how he didn’t want to go there. Is there any truth to that?
He didn’t want to. I’m not sure why, but I know that he didn’t want to. The last few weeks were very confusing.
How do you mean?
He was pulling away from Death Row and was done with his contract. He also had sent a letter to David Kenner firing him and letting Tha Row know that he was done with them. He wasn’t wearing his Death Row medallion. It was all Euphanasia.
Do you know why Pac fired Kenner? Was it just a part of the eventual plan to leave Death Row?
I think he was just cutting loose. He had started a production company with me and Tracy and started his own record label. I think it was just him wanting independence.
Wasn’t Tupac creating Makaveli Records to be a division of Death Row?
I’ve never heard about that. I thought Euphanasia was the label he was doing on his own.
I think that was the management company Yaasmyn Fula worked at. I’m not sure.
Huh? Then I don’t know.
Makaveli Records appeared on some of the Death Row posters for Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. It could have been Tha Row on the sly.
I don’t know, but would say yes.
Can you confirm if him and Kidada were to be engaged. Frank Alexander said they weren’t, but Kidada said they were.
They were as far as I know. They were to be married. Why would Frank say they weren’t?
He said – if I can remember it right – Pac was just using her for sex. He was “training her” and that he only heard about it once Pac passed, so it wasn’t really confirmed.
Sounds like hateraid. Pac was loving her and they made a wonderful couple.
Did you know that Kevin Hackie was working with the FBI while with Pac?
That’s what he told me when we were at the hospital.
He told you?
That he was undercover.
Did he tell you what he was investigating?
Did he tell you about any of his findings?
Yes and nope. I thought Kevin was a bit of a loose nut and didn’t know if I believed what he was saying. It all seemed a bit far fetched. I shared a room with him and Tupac’s biological dad.
Billy Garland? How did he end up sharing a room with you?
He couldn’t get a room, so I let him stay in mine.
What did you think of Billy? Do you know if him and Pac stayed in touch after 1994?
Billy seemed like a simple guy, who was happy to be relinking up with his son. He said that Pac was planning on flying him and his family out for Thanksgiving. He was a very simple guy. Knowing both the mom and pop, I’d say Pac was definitely Afeni’s child, not Billy’s.
Okay, how did you hear the news that Pac got shot?
Which time? NY, I was with Tracy and we got a call at 3am. Vegas. I was waiting for him at Suge’s “Club 662”.
Nate Dogg walked up to us and said that Pac and Suge had been shot. We rushed to University Hospital and I ended up sitting watch for 6 nights from 12 to 8am. I didn’t get to see Pac until the 5th night.
You personally sat watch?
There was only 1 Death Row guard posted outside of his door and no additional security given to him for the first 4 or so nights even thought there were death threats.
Death threats? Can you give us any more info on that?
I had no choice, but to sit the midnight shift at the hospital. He didn’t have enough security and I figured I could at least try and stop someone or call for help or something. The marketing guy for Deathrow came up to me on the 3rd night around 10pm and said that he just got a call from Death Row and that the killers had called the label and told them that they were going to go to the hospital and finish him off. I immediate called the Vegas cops, which told me they were understaffed and couldn’t send anyone. And if something should go down I should go and find the foot patrolman walking the halls of the hospital and he would help.
Was Suge still in the hospital at that point? Or was it directly at Pac?
Suge left after the first night. I think they moved him to a private room that’s first night on the 4th floor.
Why was the security so understaffed?
I don’t know, but it was strange. There was an old man sitting security in the E.R. waiting room. After the cops dropped the ball he said “that’s very strange cause last year a rodeo star had broken his foot, and the Vegas PD had given him 4 round the clock cops and some trailers for his family so they’d be more comfortable”. We had the top rapper in the world lying on his deathbed and he couldn’t get shit as far as support. It was all very strange and confusing. Hatred to the fullest. Something was fishy and to this day I can’t put my finger on it.
Wasn’t Frank Alexander around or any other Death Row security?
I didn’t really see him. At night there was just one guy from Death Row, me in the waiting room and maybe Noble sitting the night shift. I don’t know where he was.
That’s fucked up. Was there any improvements in Pac’s condition? We heard he tried to get out the bed, is that true?
I was told by one of the nurses that he was put in an induced coma cause he kept trying to get out of bed and pull the plugs out. So they put him under. I was recently told that every time he came too, it would be just after the shooting for him, so he’d be in shock.
Damn, what was the atmosphere like at the hospital? We read that press were trying to get pictures of him, did you ever have to move any of the press away?
The second day I was there, a woman came in and started buddying up with me and started asking me all kinds of questions. I had no idea who she was. Molly Monjauze came in and started cussing the lady out and kicked her out. She turned out to be a reporter. Naive me. That was the closest a reporter got to Pac.
When did you hear the news about him passing? Were you at the hospital?
No, I left on the 6th night when the nurse told me he was 13% better. At that point I had to come back to LA to help my partner Tracy with a video. The next day I was in a van with the same people we were in Vegas with, driving on the freeway when Theo, a local DJ on a hip hop station announced that Pac had passed.
Was there any feeling around that Frank Alexander was to blame? Before and after Pac passed?
Not for me. I don’t think anyone else did either. I was just pissed that he didn’t have a gun with him. I was pissed that no one shot back.
Any visitors to the hospital, noteworthy, that we aren’t aware of?
Everyone came to visit him. I wasn’t there for most of the last days. I was there in the evenings.
Okay, so are there any plans for you to be part of Amaru’s movie making side of things?
I’m not sure. I’d be blessed to work on anything Tupac related. The hardest thing since his passing is not having been involved in any Tupac related projects. I know he’s been mad at me. Cause he expects more of me
It’s been clear that people with talent who knew him haven’t been part of his projects.
That’s sweet, but not a good thing.
Can you tell us anything about the Amaru tribute documentary you shot?
We started shooting footage around the 1st anniversary of Pac’s passing. I shot footage of Afeni, Left Eye, Too Short, Shock G, Mike Tyson, Bizzy Bone and Jon B. The guy that put “2Pac4Ever” together, illegally used all the footage that I shot for the Amaru tribute album in that piece. I think Afeni’s lawyers are going to go after him. That’s why I think it’s important that people don’t support him.
Can you tell us some rare facts about Pac that most fans wouldn’t know?
The one thing that stands out to me about Pac, that I think people don’t realize is that he was one funny dude. Humour was more and more a part of his everyday life. The last few months of his life, transformation was taking place. He was starting to structure his own empire. I heard him in one of his last conversation say, “people won’t recognize me in 6 months cause I’m going to act adult. I’m done with this petty bullshit. In fact I may run for mayor of Los Angeles one day, cause these politicians are so corrupt”. He was ready to blow up beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. The people, who took him out, took out one of the most powerful men who has ever lived, black or white. I think mankind has it twisted thinking we are the smartest ones on this planet. We often kill those amongst us that have the potential of saving us. He was 25. He had done 5 movies and sold how many million albums? When I was 25, my head was so far up my ass I didn’t have a clue which way I was going. People forget how young he was.
Conducted by Stephen D, February 2004