Tupac Month: Bokeem Woodbine Remembers Working With ‘Pac
How big of a ‘Pac fan were you?
I was always a huge admirer of his because he just put so much intelligence in a genre where sometimes it lacks, but also during that time period he had a lot of competition as far as people who were speaking intelligently because Wu-Tang was coming really, really, really strong at that time. And so for him to be able to stand on his own in the midst of that kind of climate because rappers were really tryin’ to raise the stakes as far as displayin’ wits, the ability to flip a metaphor, comin’ with correct beats. [DJ] Premier was still doin’ his thing strong then too, so it was a very competitive field to be in.
For [‘Pac] to be able to stand on his own and really have a lot of charisma and being his own man in that genre during that era of hip-hop it was quite remarkable, so I always had nothing but respect for his gift, you know?
How eerie is it that ‘Pac gets killed in the video and ended up getting killed a few weeks before the video was released?
It was even more eerie because we shot it probably six months before it was released. I shot videos before. Normally, say you in the beginning of February, under most circumstances you’ll see it on MTV or whatever by the middle of March. It’s only a six-week turnaround so I remember we shot the video and I remember every month I’m waiting to see ‘cause I wasn’t sure how I was gonna look. That was my thing. I wasn’t sure what they did in the editing process. I really wanted to see it. In fact, we worked on another project after that and the video still hadn’t come out. We worked on a movie called Gridlock’d together. I didn’t understand what was taking the video so long, so I wrote it off eventually. I was like, “Wow, it’s just never gonna come out.” Sure enough, about a week or two after he passed [and] they dropped it. And I was like, “Wow.” I don’t even have the words for it. Even to this day it’s definitely eerie.
How much did you interact with ‘Pac during the filming of Gridlock’d.
We hung pretty strong ‘cause I think I had like four, five days in the movie and all my scenes were with him. I mean, this is when I used to burn real strong so during the down time the only thing we did was go to his trailer and just blaze. When he got more comfortable with me, that’s when he started breakin’ down some of the plans that he had that he never got to see come to fruition. And one of the things that he was tellin’ me he wanted to because at that time he had a beef with some East Coast entities. And he was tellin’ me how he wanted to squash that and how he had plans to come together with Mobb Deep and I think Nas maybe too, squash it and he wanted to put out a record with everybody on it because he felt as though record labels and individuals were profiting off of the beef that was created pretty much in the media. He felt that he said what he had to say and that he wasn’t angry anymore and that he wanted to bring everybody together. It just bothered him that people were makin’ money off of that. He wanted to squash the beef. He also felt as though it was a bad thing that young men might be gettin’ hurt or even die behind somethin’ that was really just set up for record labels to profit off of. And that really bugged him. I remember he kept goin’ on and on about. He was like, “I’ma have Mobb Deep come out here. And we gon’ make a record together. And we’re gonna squash all this, the nonsense is out of my system. I’m not really upset like that anymore. I encouraged him. He didn’t need my encouragement. He already had the plan, but I second that. I said, “Yea, man. You should squash it because it’s ridiculous. He was like, watch. This is gonna happen, that’s gonna happen. And he never got a chance to make those plans into full effect.