R.I.P. June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996
Eleven years ago today, hip-hop was forever changed. That was the day Tupac Shakur tragically passed away at the University of Nevada Medical Center after succumbing to four gunshot wounds received during a drive-by shooting six days earlier on Flamingo Rd. in Las Vegas. Since then, the hip-hop community has mourned in unison, celebrating ’Pac’s music through an extensive catalogue of posthumous projects. XXL has also done its share to keep 2Pac’s legacy alive. Over the course of the past 10 years, the magazine offered the best commentary, insight and coverage into ’Pac’s life, both personally and professionally. ’Pac has appeared on three top-selling XXL covers, while his mother, Afeni Shakur, graced the front of our landmark October 2003 issue.
One of the greatest MCs of all time, ’Pac has captured the hearts and influenced most rappers in the game. In honor of the 11th anniversary of Tupac’s death XXLMag.com spoke to 11 rappers and DJs about their favorite 2Pac moment, memory or song. Some of the artists knew ’Pac well. Others only knew him from afar or grew up listening to him. Regardless, all of the artists have been influenced by the man in some shape, form or fashion. And you can bet many more will be in the future.
“[My favorite 2Pac memory] was that whole era when he was in Harlem doing Above the Rim. Just to see the way he was thuggin’ in Harlem, that was the first time I really got to see him. I remember I was in high school walking up 125th [street] and he was hanging out of a burgundy MPV [minivan]. Shit just blew my mind to see a live nigga like that run through the streets of Harlem, ’cause Harlem is a live place. You just ain’t runnin’ through there without no pass. Plus, everything else that he came with gave us that adrenaline rush—spitting on cameras, getting shot up, leaving the next day with the middle finger up. He embodied what we do out here as far as struggling and coming up hustlin’ with nothing to live for. He’s one of the niggas that kept me alive. And even today, I still gotta reflect and listen to his music. So, rest in peace 2Pac. I guess I’ll see you when I get to thugs’ mansion.”
“[My favorite 2Pac memory was] when he was running through my city. He came to Cashville years ago and performed at Club Malibu. He was one of those rappers that when he came to my city, he was all through the hood [and] streets. He was hands on with the community. I was just blessed to have a chance to run into him and get that love, being able to see him and shake his hand. If you ever get a chance to visit his gravesite, make sure you leave a cold Sunkist there—that was his favorite drink. I happened to have my whole refrigerator filled up with Sunkist cold drinks and my man Edi and Noble [of The Outlawz] were flippin’ out, like, ‘Yo, this is a fuckin’ repeat. This is the same shit ’Pac used to do.’ So there’s a Sunkist can sitting on top of his [gravesite], ’cause that’s how much he loved it.”
“My favorite memory was at the E-40 video [shoot for] ‘Rappers’ Ball.’ Ice-T was there, Mack 10, Ant Banks and some other West Coast rappers. Plus, a lot of females, liquor, weed and the usual clowning. We were on a camper smoking and listening to his new album that was about to drop, Makaveli. He was so passionate about every song. He was rapping the lyrics out loud and talking shit about the songs. I only saw him once after that, the night he got shot in [Las] Vegas. We were arriving at the Luxor Casino and the Death Row crew was leaving. [’Pac] shook all our hands and told us to come to Club 662 because everybody was gonna be rockin’ the mic and I should come spit some shit, too. Of all the times we talked and kicked it, that day on the camper has always been the most memorable because of how intense he was about his new album. [I] wish he would’ve lived and made more movies and music.”
“2Pac was and is [the] realest. He changed the game from fakin’ to sayin’ what’s real and what you go through everyday. He made it to where niggas was comfortable in their [own] skin. He also showed compassion for the game. He made it to where being gutter means something and you can talk about more things in life instead of dope, because the real dope boys don’t talk. My favorite [2Pac] song is ‘Ambitionz Az A Ridah’ and ‘How Do U Want It.’”
“I have quite a few favorite memories [of ’Pac] but one that really stood out happened back when I was just getting into the rap game around ’96. I think it was at the How Can I Be Down? convention in Atlanta. The entire lobby was packed with people networking when, all of a sudden, every chick started pointing up at the top of the escalator screaming, “It’s him!” That’s when ’Pac came down the escalator, shaking a bottle of Moet in each hand, then poppin’ the corks with the shit spraying everywhere. Everybody [was] excited. This nigga made a grand entrance like ghetto royalty and that was the highlight of the day. Everybody was talking about it. I think it personified how much charisma and swagger 2Pac had. He’s often imitated but never duplicated because that was a gift that God gave dude, which is why he always came off as compelling and naturally believable.”
“One of my favorite 2Pac songs was ‘Pain’ from the Above the Rim soundtrack. It was really a song that touched a lot of people in the hood with what he was talking about. ’Cause at the time, you had the streets going with dope and ’Pac played Bird, who was the drug dealer in the movie. So the way he wrote ‘Pain’ was from the standpoint of Bird and that’s how a lot of my boys were feeling at the time. I’ll never forget the line when he said, ‘Smoking weed helps me take away the pain.’ And I could relate ’cause people were actually getting high in the hood as a form of coping with the troubles they faced.”
“My favorite 2Pac moment was when he came to my patna’s studio in Vallejo, Calif. We got twisted off that good old liquor and broccoli [weed], chopped game and did music. ’Pac kicked it with us all day from like noon to like 11 p.m. How many people can say that? Paint a picture and visualize. Imagine that!”
“My favorite 2pac memories are watching Biggie and Puff introduce him to the crowds at various N.Y. nightclubs. I used to work for a party promoter that Puff was close with, and he and Big took a real liking to ’Pac’s energy as we all know. I loved 2Pacalypse Now, and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. was on the way, but N.Y. wasn’t hip to ’Pac in general at that time. I used to try to convince my friends to check out that 2Pacalypse Now, but when I saw B.I.G. bring him out, I knew I wasn’t alone.”
“One of the most memorable ’Pac [moments for me] was in Juice when he said, ‘You got to let niggas know you’re willing to take them out any time you feel like it. You gotta put the ground beneath your feet, patna!’ Also, we had a show in Minnesota and we was kickin’ it with Naughty by Nature and they played some of ’Pac’s songs and the club went crazy. That was the hypest club night ever for me… he is still alive [through the music].”
“My favorite 2Pac memory was probably seeing him go from being a rapper to an actor. Films like Juice, Above the Rim and Poetic Justice showed he was poised to be in the game for a long time if he hadn’t passed so soon. As a musician, his music is so timeless. ‘Dear Mama’ is the song of all songs for mothers.”
“My personal favorite 2Pac memory was just being a fan around the time All Eyez on Me came out, looking in on the outside before I even got in this business. There was such a crazy buzz between all the legal stuff ’Pac went through, the move to Death Row and then the beef with Biggie. I remember rushing to the store the day [All Eyez on Me] came out, poppin’ in the first disc and just hearing those intro notes on ‘Ambitionz Az A Ridah.’ Then I remember he dropped the CD single of ‘How Do U Want It’ with ‘Hit ’Em Up’ on the B-side. Even though I was a B.I.G., Bad Boy and Mobb Deep fan, you couldn’t help but sing along with that shit. The crazy part, too, is that entire album is still relevant. It still has the biggest club bangers of all time and, at the same time, [you can] ride all the way through the city in your car [and] bang it proudly. One of the truly timeless albums in all of music, not just hip-hop.”