Keisha Morris has some reservations. While preparing for a XXL photo shoot at a New York City studio on a rainy June evening, the pint-sized, caramel-complected 38-year-old sits on a folding chair, straight-faced and uneasy. The first and only wife of Tupac Shakur hasn’t done any interviews since the 2003 release of the biography Tupac: Resurrection (Simon & Schuster), in which she felt she was unfairly portrayed. As an educator with a master’s degree and a mother of two, the New York City native also feels worlds removed from the intense life she shared with ’Pac back when she was 20 and he was 21.
The two met in N.Y. in the summer of 1994, while Keisha was attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice and working as a camp counselor. 2Pac had already released his first two albums, 2Pacalypse Now and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., and had appeared in the movies Juice and Poetic Justice. He was recording Me Against the World and also in the middle of major legal drama, as he was facing charges of sexual abuse and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was later found guilty of just sexual abuse and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, of which he did 10 months.
Morris was immediately thrown into the hectic life of one of rap’s most controversial new stars. She married ’Pac while he was behind bars at N.Y.’s Clinton Correctional Facility; their union was annulled 10 months later. The two remained in contact up until days before ’Pac’s September 1996 murder in Las Vegas. Now, three months before the 15th anniversary of the beloved MC’s passing, she has decided to end her silence and tell, one final time, what it was like to be Tupac’s one and only “Mrs. Shakur.” —Mariel Concepcion
XXL: How did you meet Tupac?
Keisha Morris: We met when I was 20, at the Capitol [nightclub]… We were dancing, and we spoke briefly. He was going through something legally at the time, and I told him to just be careful of the people he’s around and that I hope everything works out… I saw him a month later at the Tunnel [another nightclub], and…he remembered the whole conversation… He told me he had been looking for me for a month—going to every club. He tried to invite me back to his hotel room. I was like, “No, that’s not happening.” He gave me his number, and I gave him my house number. It was too expensive to have a cell phone back then, so he gave me his SkyPager. The next day, I had to go work…and he called me when I got home. I was in shock! We started talking from that day on.
Did you meet him before or after his sexual-abuse incident occurred?
It was after. I know he was going through depositions. That’s why he started to stay with me in New York. He had a hotel, but he stayed with me. I don’t know [what happened]. I wasn’t in the room. I was nowhere around. I know he stated that he didn’t have anything to do with it. I didn’t wanna see him go to jail for something he said he didn’t do. That kind of thing is tough on everybody. I didn’t know what to believe. I was 20 years old. I didn’t know what was going on. You know, of course my parents didn’t want me to be involved with anything like that. Being a good girl, you don’t know. It’s excitement. That taught me lessons. Would I do it again now? Absolutely not. But at the time, you’re young, you don’t know.
What made you stay?
Because I got to know him. He told me one time, “Everything I touch, I damage, I mess up. I don’t want you to be involved in any of this. I don’t wanna hurt you. I don’t want you to be damaged or anything like that.” And it was hard, because when you care and you love a person, at that point, what do you do? Do you walk away?
Before Tupac went to jail, he proposed to you, and then you two got married four months after he went in.
I just didn’t feel like, Okay, now [that] you might be going to jail, I don’t know if I even want to be a part of you or deal with this. We got married April 29, 1995. [For him] it was more like, “I don’t want you saying you’re my girlfriend. I want people to take you seriously and let them know that you’re my wife.”
How often did you visit him?
His thing was he wanted a visit every day, so he could get outta that cell. It was hard. It was such a dramatic process, like, Oh, my God. I dreaded to do it. But, you know, I did it. If I wasn’t able to be there, I would make sure that someone else was there.
Your marriage was annulled 10 months later—not long after he got out of jail. What happened?
I thought that things were changing, that he changed. Things were getting very different once he got bail, and I felt like I wasn’t needed anymore. It wasn’t a good feeling. Like, Okay, of course you don’t know from being so young. But I just felt like, Wow, okay, it was over. Like, Okay, I don’t need you anymore. I’m getting out. That’s it.
You know, looking back now, there was no conjugal visits or things like that. It was just so funny how people have said all different kinds of things—and it’s, like, that didn’t even happen, that’s not even true—and make up all kinds of stories unnecessarily.
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