Tupac Under Fire: The Saga Continues, VIBE August 1995
The final chapter
We received an overwhelming response to the VIBE Q with Tupac Shakur [“Ready to Live ” by Kevin Powell, April], Several of the people mentioned in the interview were contacted before the story was published but declined to comment at that time. After the interview appeared, they contacted VIBE, wanting to respond to what they felt were misconceptions that arose from some of Tupac’s statements and descriptions. Here are excerpts from their replies, as told to Fab 5 Freddy.
That night when I went to the studio, there were three sessions going on. There was Little Shawn’s session, then upstairs SWV was happening, and on the other floor Biggie Smalls [The Notorious B.I.G.] was doing his thing. Hope was in the air and success was all around. Everybody was all excited about Pac cornin’ in, but we were starting to get antsy because he was supposed to get there at a certain time, and we wanted to see how this song with Little Shawn was going to set off.
When he got off the elevator, we were all standing in the hall. Tupac was just bopping back and forth saying, “I was set up.” At first I didn’t realize he had been shot, because he wasn’t bleeding heavily from the head. It looked like he had a fight. He said, “It’s not goin’ down like that.” I was, like,
“Yo, Money, you shot. You need to sit down.” He told Stretch to roll him up a spliff. He was in movie mode at this point. He did the whole James Cagney thing.
I said, “Let’s call the ambulance.” I was basically the one who was taking care of the police and the ambulance people. I wasn’t making any calls; 1 was directing the studio exactly who to call, so I was talking more to Stretch because the paramedics were looking at Pac. There was no need for me to look at the wound.
I remember telling Stretch, “You got to go with him.” ’Cause I wasn’t trusting the police with Tupac. He had too many open issues with the police. I was feeling like something could have happened between the ride and the hospital. I ended up staying in the studio till 4 in the morning, ’cause the police interviewed everybody and wouldn’t let anybody leave. I tried to call the hospital when I was walking out of the studio to see if I could go by there. They said they were looking at him and nobody could see him.
I was glad Tupac said he was basically through with the whole bad-guy image and that he wants to redirect his energy. So I guess there was some level of positivity that came out from all this. 1 want to go and see Pac and just talk to him, see where his head is at. ’Cause he knows what’s real and what’s not, and in the quietness of his mind, you know, he’s dealing with all the truth. And for me, that’s almost enough.
THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.:
I had a session with the Junior Mafia at Quad Studios. Little Ceez and Meno and all them was on the little terrace they got out there, smoking weed. They was looking around and they saw Stretch and Pac and all them niggas pull up. We all family, so niggas greeted each other from upstairs to downstairs. Next thing you know, everybody was, like, “Yo, Pac just got shot.” So I’m on my way downstairs, no gat, to see what’s up with my man. Everybody holding me back.
I get downstairs and everything’s on some lockdown shit. Nobody moves. Immediately, police thought everybody in the studio was on the same floor where everything was supposed to have happened at. I saw Pac get out on a stretcher, but when he actually came out from the elevator, I wasn’t even there.
”The story just completely got switched around:
They’re saying that my ‘Who Shot Ya?’ is about him.
That’s crazy. That song was finished way before Tupac got shot.”
When I read the interview 1 felt like he was just shitting on everybody. I always said that he was the realest nigga in the game. I don’t know what he was trying to hide, or if he was scared. I figured that with the shit he was talking in VIBE, he was just confused more than anything. You get shot and then you go to jail for something you ain’t even do-that could twist a nigga’s mind up.
And then the story just completely got switched around: niggas saying / set him up and I’m the one that got him shot. They’re saying that my record “Who Shot Ya?” is about him. That shit is crazy. That song was finished way before Tupac got shot. Niggas was taking little pieces of the song and trying to add it to the story, and that shit is crazy. Other niggas look at that VIBE piece, like, “Damn, Little Caesar was on the terrace. He must have been the lookout man.” And it’s real niggas in the streets thinking, “That’s fucked up, what B.I.G. did to Tupac.” I think that should be erased. Never, ever in life.
As far as with me, he always gonna be my man, even when I go see him again. But he need to just check himself. And I want an apology. ’Cause I don’t get down like that.
[JIMMY HENCHMAN] BOOKER:
There was a lot of people passing through the studio that night, and the word definitely got out that Tupac was on his way. We were waiting on Tupac for hours. Next thing I know, about 12:00, Tupac comes off the elevator. It looked like he just got in a scuffle. Then I seen the blood on his head. He was pacing back and forth, hysterically, talking about “Call the police, call the police.” Then he looked
“He made it seem like niggas had a plot against him.
Like he was so important that everybody
wanted to kill him.”
at me and said, “You the only one who knew that 1 was coming. You must’ve set me up.” I was, like, “Yo, you buggin’, Tupac. C’mere and talk to me.” He kept pacing back and forth, and saying, “Call the police.” He never said to call the ambulance. When we were leaving, I saw that the cops only had one spent shell. The next day, we looked on the floor and walls of the lobby. That whole hallway is concrete and it’s very small. I didn’t see no holes in the wall or nothing.
In the paper he said he’d been set up, that he knew the assailants and blazey-boom. But everybody in the industry knew that he came off the elevator saying, “You set me up.” 1 thought me and him was some kind of friends. But I felt maybe this was a strategy for him to get around his case. And maybe I shouldn’t hold him accountable for trying that strategy.
But after the VIBE interview, I seen that this nigga is using the media to get his point across and look like he had the upper hand. He made it seem like niggas had a plot against him. Like he was so important that street niggas wanted to kill him, industry niggas wanted to kill him. He’s believing his rap. He’s believing the movie scripts that he’s played. Where he went wrong was when he tried to go to the street, and when it came down to the test, he did not hold up. He’s gonna assassinate people’s character, saying that niggas was crying and falling to the floor like a sack of potatoes. It just goes to show that the real coward and the real nigga that was crying was Tupac.
All I know is that Money was supposed to come and he agreed to do the song with me. When I got there, it was like a fucking party. I ain’t really keen on a whole bunch of people in the studio while I’m working. I don’t know how, but everybody must have known this cat was cornin’.
Then the elevator goes ding. Money gets off the elevator and starts yelling, “Ah! I got shot. Nigga set me up. Muthafucka shot me; they shot Tupac.1′ The back of his head was busted open and it was bleeding all down his face. He caught everybody by surprise. For like only a split second, until the shock wore off, nobody really wanted to fuck with him because he was jumping around like an animal.
Reading the interview and being there, nothing made sense. He said Andre didn’t want to look at him. Puffy didn’t want to look at him. He’s trying to state that nobody paid him any mind? Come on, man. I don’t know this dude from a hole in the wall, and I was trying to help him. He said, “Little Shawn was crying uncontrollably.” You sound like an idiot saying some dumb shit like that. When I was helping him, he didn’t say, “You cryin’ like a bitch. Get away from me.” I was surprised that Money even had the audacity to go there. I’ve punched a lot of people in their mouth behind that “Little Shawn was cryin’ ” shit.
Then I hear everybody is saying that I had something to do with it. And niggas on the West Coast are saying, “Yo, tell that nigga Little Shawn to be careful. Cause niggas on the West Coast is calling his name.” I don’t need that in my life. A lot of people go through problems with the law, and that ain’t nothing to be glorified. Every time this dude gets arrested, it’s in the paper because of who he is, but he’s loving it.
I ain’t no media gangster. That dude is Media Man. He is ridiculous.
“He’s believing his rap.
He’s believing the movie scripts that he’s played.
Where he went wrong was
when he tried to go to the street.”
SEAN “PUFFY” COMBS:
Basically, the whole thing must have been a dream. We were shooting Biggie’s “Warning” video, and I see one of the Bad Boy staff members on his way to Biggie’s session. I knew that Biggie had a session with Junior Mafia, but I didn’t know it was right around the comer. So I’m going to check B.I.G., you know what I’m saying?
When I get off the elevator at Quad, you have to stop in a reception area, and there’s this Little Shawn session with Andre. So I stopped to say “What’s up?” to them. I’m about to go up to Biggie’s session when Pac comes out the elevator and he’s shot up. He had some blood coming out of his head, but there wasn’t a lot of blood. He was holding his groin area and limping a little bit.
Nobody turned their backs on him; niggas was all up on him. Immediately, Andre was, like, “Oh my God, call the ambulance.” Tupac wanted to go to the phone, so me and my man Groovy Lou was by his side, trying to hold him up, getting him to calm down. He was telling Groovy Lou to roll him a blunt. He definitely brought the theatrics to it.
He got a lot of people in a lot of bullshit with that interview. The way it was written, it was open-ended, like me and B.I.G. and Andre had something to do with it. I would never, ever purposely try to hurt no next man. That man had his own beefs with niggas. I ain’t never had no beef with that man.
I hope that his Thug Life shit is really over. But on the real, if you gonna be a motherfuckin’ thug, you gots to live and die a thug, you know what I’m sayin’? There ain’t no jumpin’ in and out of thugism. If that’s what you choose to do, you gots to go out like that. I ain’t no thug. Only thugs I know is dead or in jail. Or about to be.
Even still, I ain’t got no beef. I pray for him, and it’s all good. I’m writing him a letter. I want to hear what he’s thinking face-to-face. Out of everybody, I’m the easiest to forgive. I’ve been there where the whole press is against you, the world ain’t understanding you, niggas don’t know what really went on. And you get confused. That’s the only thing I can see is confusion.
Me and Pac have been down from day one. Before he did Juice, before his first album. That’s my man. So the interview he did in VIBE bugged me out. But I know him. He likes to talk a lot. Especially when he’s upset, he’ll say shit that he won’t even mean. And then he’ll think about it later and be, like, “Damn, why the fuck did I say that?” We was kinda skeptical when we was going to the studio. We was, like, Shit don’t seem right, something gonna happen. But when the four of us got to the studio and seen Little Caesar and them up in the window, it kinda threw us off. So we get around the comer and we see this nigga standing in front of the studio with an army fatigue jacket on. He sees us, looks at his watch, then looks down. There’s somebody sitting inside by the elevators lookin’ at his newspaper. We not really paying them no mind. So they buzz us in, and the kid that was standing in front of the building comes in behind us.
“I hope that his Thug Life thing is really over.
But on the real, if you gonna be a thug,
you gots to live and die a thug,
you know what I’m saying’ ?
There ain’t no jumping’ in and out of thugism. ”
We wasn’t rushing to the elevator. They had the iron out immediately. They had the drop on us real quick, and they was, like, “Y’all niggas lay down.” We just looked at each other like we was not laying down for shit. ’Cause when niggas tell you to lay down, you automatically think you ain’t gonna get up no more.
So Pac turns around like he about to go for his joint, ’cause Pac was strapped. Then a shot went off, and it was, like. Oh shit. Niggas is not playing. After the shot, boom, Pac hit the floor. Me personally, I only heard one shot. I didn’t hear four, five, six shots. And he was saying that he got shot three, four times. None of us remember hearing four, five shots. When the shot went off, that’s when we went down.
Pac’s saying all this shit in the interview, like, “I thought that Stretch was gonna fight. He was towering over them.” Now, that nigga know I ain’t never going out like no bitch. But I ain’t dumb. I ain’t got no gun, what the fuck am I supposed to do? I might be towering over niggas, but I ain’t towerin’ over no slugs.
Tupac got shot trying to go for his shit. He tried to go for his gun, and he made a mistake on his own. But I’ll let him tell the world that. I ain’t even going to get into it all like that. Pac’s talking about niggas “dropping like a sack of potatoes.” How the fuck is he going to know if niggas dropped like a sack of potatoes if he was turned around to get his joint? He tried to turn around and pull the joint out real quick, but niggas caught him. Grabbed his hand when it was by his waist.
When Pac was on the floor, his head was bleeding and his eyes was closed. Your man gets dropped and he falls right next to you—that shit bug you the fuck out. The other nigga kept the joint on me and Zane, and the kid with the army fatigue jacket started takin’ off Pac’s jewels and shit. He was calling Pac a bitch-ass nigga, kickin’ him and shit.
After they finished robbing, they stepped out, walking backward and pointing the guns at us. I was looking at Pac, and all of a sudden his eyes opened and he said, “Yo, I’m hit.” And Fred’s saying he’s hit too. So, boom, we go outside and Pac starts screaming for the police. We see a cop outside, rolling up real slow, but Zane got the other gun that Pac had, and we out on Times Square. So we ran back inside and got on the elevator and went upstairs. My man Fred stayed down there in front of the building, ’cause he was hit.
In that interview, Pac was talking all that shit about Thug Life is ignorance and telling niggas’ names and all that shit. 1 don’t even understand why he went there. I’ve seen Pac mad times after the shooting and he never kicked none of that shit to me. You know how he feels about the media, so why would he go and do an interview like that? He’s supposed to be a street nigga; he should’ve kept it in the street. I mean, niggas had to go and get their names changed. I want him to get a reality check. Recognize what the fuck he’s doing. Niggas on the street live by rules, man.
And that rule right there, that’s a rule that’s never to be broken.