Shawn Pen aka Lil Shawn Speaks On Tupac Shakur’s 1994 Quad Studios Shooting
DX: Let’s hold off on getting to the present state of mind you’re in. We gotta cover some ground that comes up I’m sure in every interview you do. So just hold tight with me. We gotta go through it though. We talked about Biggie, and you know any talk about Biggie leads to talk of Tupac, and vice versa. So is there anything you still wanna say 17 years later about the Quad Studios attack on ‘Pac that some people still tie you to as part of the setup?
Shawn Pen: You know what’s crazy? I’ve never spoken about it.
DX: Oh, you haven’t? Oh, okay, I thought you had.
Shawn Pen: Never. That was one of the things that really turned me off to the game. See, because … I met ‘Pac through [Haitian] Jack. Jack had a barbershop back then. And then next door to the barbershop was a bar in Queens called Manhattan Proper. And, you know, we’d be at the barbershop every day hangin’ out. Tuesday nights, we went next door. So Jack was known for bringing a bunch of celebrities through there. He had Madonna there, he had Tupac there, he had Shabba Ranks there, he had Buju Banton, he had the dude that Caine stomped out in [Menace II Society]. [Laughs] So you could see Jack with anybody at that time. He was always outgoing, traveling, and everybody [clung] to him.
So, Andre Harrell was doing New York Undercover at the time, and he wanted Tupac to be on New York Undercover. So Jack was like, “Yo, well, him and Shawn could make a record.” Tupac is still one of my favorite artists because of his delivery and his songwriting capability. I didn’t really get into him personally after hangin’ out with him, because – Like I said, man, I was really [in the streets, and] when you hear these songs with all this fire and vigor, and [then] you meet the person … And, me and Jack really didn’t get along. Internally, we’d argue all the time. I’m a spoiled brat, and I’m rebellious, so I can’t really just go along with anything. And I stayed around and watched them interact a lot, and I watched Tupac get spoken to certain ways and I ain’t respect that. So I was more or less turned off [to working with Tupac], but then you’re like, “Okay.” Andre’s in my ear and he’s like, “Yo, this could be great for you, man. I’m telling you ….” And I had “Dom Perignon” out at the time, so I agreed to do the studio session. Bryce Wilson from Groove Theory was producing the track.
So, when Tupac comes off the elevator shot – Now, when you have things like that that happen, if you have any knowledge of the street and something like that happens on your watch and you can’t explain it and you don’t know where it came from and you can’t put your finger on it and you wasn’t down with it, that’s a violation of you. It’s just like if you come to my crib, if you come to my house, I invite you to my crib, you eating, you’re having a good time, and you come outside and get shot on my doorstep, that’s a violation of me. So whoever did that disrespected me, not you. It’s –
DX: [Interrupts] Not to cut you off there, but I have to ask, I mean, did you go to Jimmy Henchman afterwards like, you know, “What the fuck?”
Shawn Pen: You know what? I wouldn’t ask him that, just assuming that he would have more respect for me then to do that at that particular time. If you had a problem with dude, you don’t use me as no pawn. So this is why I never believed he had anything to do with it, because I just don’t think that he would do that to me! Not to him.
See, when you dealing with street dudes, man, there’s a whole ‘nother mentality that the average person can’t understand. It’s just like that whole snitching thing. Yo, dude, if your mother gets mugged, and she’s never done anything illegal, and she’s worked all her life and she’s retired, and she gets mugged and she goes and picks out [her mugger from a lineup], that’s not [snitching]. She’s not a rat. She’s not snitching. Like, she’s not a criminal, how could she be accused of snitching? So you got a bunch of people talking about that that don’t know anything about that. And I don’t respect that. I –
DX: [Interrupts] So again, not to cut you off, but I have to ask, this Dexter Isaac cat, he’s a –
Shawn Pen: [Interrupts] I don’t even know who that is! I don’t even know who that is. I have no idea who that dude is.
So, you know, I’ve never spoken about it, ever. I’m the only one, as far as I know, that got questioned by the police – in Andre’s office, with Andre. And they were asking me like, “Yo, we heard that you were jealous of him as an artist, and you were jealous of him because he had money.” And, one thing about [me], once you start talking crazy, I’m done. And that was the end of the interview, because that’s ridiculous. You fishing.
DX: We gotta note that Tupac himself never mentions you in “Against All Odds.”
Shawn Pen: No, no, no, not true. I heard the demo. I used to hang out at Def Jam [Records] a lot back then, and somebody had handed me a cassette of that song. And, yeah, he had mentioned me on the record. And when it came out, guess what? That’s the only thing that was taken off.
DX: Any theories about why you think he might’ve done that?
Shawn Pen: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. I was just happy that was done. I don’t wanna be referred to in any derogatory [fashion]. If you know anybody in New York, anybody in the game, they’ll tell you I got a crazy temper. Not so much anymore. [Chuckles] I’m a little different, but … you know, I couldn’t lay down on that one. So I was happy that was taken off.
Then, at that time, Uptown/MCA folded. Then all the artists were left in limbo, and they were kinda shuffled over [directly] to MCA [Records]. And, I ain’t really wanna stay there, so Puff was trying to get me a deal. So Puff was trying to get Jermaine [Dupri] to sign me at the time. And I was like [hesitant about that]. And then, one day Puff came and was like, “You know, I might wanna come to the table, but I gotta make sure it’s okay with my staff. You ain’t the easiest person to work with, [so] I wanna make sure everybody’s comfortable.” And, Biggie played a major role in that, and he was trying to get me to sign. But at that time, Suge [Knight] was on Puff’s ass. And, if you were affiliated with me in any way, I come with Brooklyn. So, I always thought that, you know, there was something fishy in Puff’s motive. Biggie was genuine, but he didn’t understand. And then I had my friends out here wanting me to do it just ‘cause it was Puff and Bad Boy, and that was the biggest label. But again, man, I wasn’t – like, I didn’t feel it. I just feel like I was being used. But, neither here nor there, man, everything happens for a reason.
DX: Let’s move past that past and on to your present. I understand you’ve followed in Lil Cease’s footsteps and started training rappers.
Shawn Pen: Um … I won’t say following in [Lil] Cease’s footsteps, but, [Chuckles], you know … Look man, here’s the thing – it’s crazy ‘cause I just had some choice words for the little dude the other day. Around the time when he was going through the stuff with Maino – and Maino is the homie, I was locked up with his man. But we all have history out here through different people that tie into one another. So if it’s real out here, it’s real. If it’s fake, it’s fake. If you got a past, you got a past. But, Brooklyn is serious. So, I used to see Cease on Fulton [Street] hangin’ out with all his jewelry, talking about DVD’s. And I’m like, “Dude, that ain’t gonna get it. You should be ashamed of yourself that you are connected to one of the greatest things in Rap ever and you’re not productive.” So, I said, “I don’t really support anything you doing right now, B.” So, you know, he has since gotten himself together, somewhat. But, I don’t … that’s not … Him, [Lil’] Kim, man, I don’t respect nothing that happened concerning them dudes after Big died. Like, everybody just went crazy. And I don’t think he would of wanted it to be like that, because it coulda happened while he was alive. So you could see so much unity while he was alive, and then when he’s gone everybody’s so dysfunctional. I don’t respect that, man. That ain’t Brooklyn, man. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. You don’t hear nobody in Maino’s camp rappin’. But they’re all playing a supportive role. That’s Brooklyn.
I’ve been working out for about 20 years. And I’ve always been training people, but I’ve since taken it serious because of certain people around me that had serious health issues, [high] blood pressure. And I’ve gotten so deep into nutrition. And then I got hired by a spot in Manhattan, New York Health & Racquet [Club], and I really, really got into it, man, and the art of actually working out. Then the nutrition and changing lives, and speeding up your metabolism, getting you off your blood pressure medicine if that’s your thing. So, you know, it’s more than a pull-up bar and a dip bar and push-ups. That’s the small of it.