Tupac Month: Tony Danza Talks About His Relationship with ‘Pac

During Tupac Shakur’s very brief, yet immensely impactful life, he accumulated an innumerable amount of supporters, as well as an interesting list of celebrity friends; everyone from Madonna and Mickey Rourke to Jasmine Guy and Jada Pinkett Smith had some sort of relationship with the beloved rap legend.

But arguably the most shocking friendship he acquired was with actor Tony Danza. Known for his roles on hit TV shows like Taxi and Who’s the Boss, Danza befriended ’Pac in 1995 via mail, when ’Pac was serving a one-and-a-half to four-year sentence for a sexual assault conviction (of which he only served 11 months). The former boxer-turned-thespian surprisingly reached out to Shakur in a moment of need and an unexpected relationship was formed.


TUPAC TALKS ABOUT TONY DANZA – FRENCH KICK… by frenchkick

XXL recently chopped it up with Tony to find out what exactly they spoke about while pen pals and why he felt compelled to contact ’Pac in the first place. As the theme to Who’s the Boss goes, “There’s more to life than what you’re livin’.” —Jesse Gissen

XXLMag.com: I don’t know if you’re aware but we’re approaching the 15-year anniversary of Tupac’s death this month.

Tony Danza: That’s unbelievable.

It really is. You corresponded with him while he was in jail in 1995. How did that begin? What motivated you to write a letter to ’Pac?

First of all, I’m a fan. I’m just a fan. I was a fan of his—and I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the biggest fan of gangster rap. But I was a fan of his, and the phenomenon really interested me, you know. And then, when he got shot five times, and then they had the sexual attack on that make-up lady, or something, I don’t remember what the deal was. He goes to jail. So I’m in my car one day, hitting the button and I hit “Dear Mama.” I hear his song, and I just thought to my self, “jeez, it’s really interesting that this guy that wrote this song is sitting in jail, with five bullet holes, with a big sign that says ‘Thug Life’ tattooed on his stomach, and yet here he is writing this kind of music, and doing this kind of work—pretty good actor too.” So, I just like to write people, because you’re somebody, they write back. It’s interesting; I think people write back for the most part anyway ’cause, getting a correspondence is so rare.

What exactly did the letter say?

So I wrote a note to him—a letter to him, and I said “Hey Tupac,” and it was so weird, I’ll never forget, I was trying to think, “what do you write? Do you write Tupac? How do you do it? ‘Dear Tupac?’ I don’t know—’dear [the number 2-Pac]?’ I don’t know.” So anyway, I just wrote and said “Listen, I love that song, I like a lot of your work,” I said, “considering the situation you find yourself in, and considering the juxtaposition of the song [“Dear Mama’] that reaches people like that, maybe there’s another way. I understand that the business you’re in is not—you can’t be a goody-two shoes in this business, but maybe there’s a way to inspire youth instead of—you know. Maybe there’s a way that you can use this talent of yours to inspire our youth, because they need somebody.”

FOR MORE TONY DANZA, GO TO PAGE 2

  • http://xxl biged

    i fuckin laugh when people compare biggie and pac. how can u compare someone that has 2 albums worth of material to someone that has almost 30?? sounds pretty stupid to me. pac will always be the greatest dont compare anyone to him cuz nobody fuckin comes close!!!!

    • Cole World out soon!!

      do some research.. none of tupacs albums were as influential as biggies two, especially ready to die! yeah big had 2 albums and pac had 5, not including after killuminat, but its about quality not quantity. Not to say one is better than the other but any one of bigs albums has more quotables than pacs first three put together. P.S. do not argue because it is a fact that big is the most quoted rapper ever… Not to say you can’t have your opinions, for all i care you can prefer lil b and vanilla ice to both artists but please do not try and use the card that 2pac has more material than Biggie because Lil Wayne has more songs than both put together, you know where I’m going with this

      • NANA

        I hate when people try to pass their opinion as fact.

      • Tre

        So you’re telling me that “Me Against the World” had no impact? “2pacolypse Now”? “All Eyez On Me”? Without the double album concept of “All Eyez On Me”, “Life After Death” wouldn’t exist. Youstrike me as someone who doesn’t listen to 2pac’s lyrics. Possibly an East Coast Bias, which is understandable. Hell I’m from Colorado.

      • Candee

        “none of tupacs albums were as influential as biggies two”
        You are kidding right? Big had a better flow, a better rhythm, but Pac spoke on way more influential subjects then Big ever did!
        Big may have had more ‘quotables’ then Pac, but that’s because most of the world has trouble actually listening to an artists lyrics and recognising the point they were trying to make. Give most people a mean beat and a sentence that rhymes and that’s game, set, match. Every one of Pac’s songs had a strong meaning and not only related to Americans, but others around the world.

        I do however agree that the amount of songs has nothing to do with who is the better out of the two, like you said Lil Wayne has more then both – and that dreded retard doesn’t even come close to being in a league with Pac & Biggie.

        An argument trying to establish who is the better rapper will go on for eternity, they were both rap artists, but both had different ways of composing their music. In the end, it’s a matter of opinion.

        RIP PAC & BIGGIE <3

      • kenny

        I THINK ITS YOU THAT NEEDS TO DO THE RESEARCH . READY TO DIE ? IT WAS INFLUENTIAL IN NY . BIGGIE WAS THE ONLY ONE COMPETING WITH DEATHROW . BUT DOGGYSTYLE , ABOVE THE RIM , CHRONIC , ALL EYES ON ME WERE THE GAME CHANGERS . AND BIGGIE STUDIED THOSE ALBUMS TO CREATE HIS . THATS FROM HIS MOTUTH
        EVERYONE STUDIED DEATHROW . DUNGEON FAMILY AND BAD BOY .

      • Rah

        what are you basing these “facts” off of.you sound ignorant

        • dan

          COMPLETLY DIFFERENT STYLES AND SOUNDS! BIGGIE IS KING! PAC IS KING! LETS ACCEPT THAT BOTH WERE TWO OF HIP HOPS GREATEST AND ARE BETTER THAN ALL THE ARTISTS ALIVE TODAY PUT TOGETHER! ONE LOVEEEE

  • tstiffy

    Ay-O, O-Ay!

    Tony Danza is realer than your favorite rapper. And he’d still probably whoop the ass of most of them.

  • http://xxl biged

    pac had 5 albums?? how bout untill the end of time?? double disc, better dayz double disc, greatest hits w/6 new songs double disc, r u still down double disc, still i rise w outlawz , thug life, one nation, makeveli and dillenger , i can go on all day. hows that for research. ive been in this rap shit since day 1 my friend , when people were spray painting and break dancing on linolium kid. pac rapped straight from the heart and make fuckin 300 songs in 2 years so take it deep. thuglife forever!!!!!!!………and another double disc of unheard shit thats still gonna come out.. and what about all the og tracks from pacs life and resurection that got fucked with. count em all next time i didnt even count the soundtracks he did

  • http://xxl biged

    thats y they dont allow comment sometimes on the pac shit cuz theres always somebody ignorant. keep bumpin ready to die and life after death cuz i got a lifetime of music to pic from cuz i got every fuckin track he ever made and its MORE THAN ANY OTHER RAPPER HAS MADE IN THEIR LIFETIME. U CAN ADD JAY Z AND TOO SHORTS ALBUMS TOGETHER AND PAC MADE MORE IN A FRACTION OF THE TIME

  • diz

    Nice read. that’s a good look on Tony Danza’s part, only if Pac would have gotten out of that Death Row environment before it was too late…

    As far as the Big & Pac Albums yall need to quit. Enjoy the music

  • Biaaaaaaaaaaaatch !

    Yeah, But biggie did better in his first album that he did on his second double album. Pac got better and better from album to album ! Biggie is better lyrically, but Pac has that Passion no other rapper ever showed ! I’m a big fan of both so, peace.

  • Adrenalin

    Tupac forever

  • http://xxl BIGED

    I DONT KNOW Y ITS 2PAC MONTH AND THEY DONT TELL U HIS NEW ALBUM IS DROPPIN THE 13TH AND THEY RELEASING A NEW SONG FROM IT EVERYDAY UNTILL THEN . GOOD JOB XXL

  • http://www.po.gov.za Tshilidzi

    Big Pun,Biggie Smalls,Big L,Eazy E etc ,so many of our brothers who are no longer here with us were gr8 MCs but none as influential as ‘Pac

    Hip Hop 4 ever……………………………………………….

  • Kunavi

    2Pac is the best! Biggie came after Pac. He was influensed by Pac’s music. That’s why Pac is #1.

  • t-lover-bash

    TUPAC is the most influencial rapper of all time. And there wouldn’t be any biggie if it wasn’t for PAC.

    MAKAVELI LIVES ON

  • $BeNnEtT$

    2pac influenced so many people of all races thru his music.We all felt his passion thru his music,to this day we all still talk bout him. 2pac is gonna live 4ever thru his music,thugs dont die we multiply!

  • Mykullkhan

    Pas is still the most influential M.C. out there STILL, and by virture of that he has an arguement for being the greatest. This ariticle was interesting. Without Pac Big would’nt have been BIG(in more ways than one) without BIG Pac still would’ve been PAC (Me against the world) but we might not have gotten All eyez on me or Makaveli. They contributed to each others lives.

  • Fireforreal

    Why are we still having this conversation in 2011 ? Tupac was the best and Biggie was the best. They were diffrent artist’s at the same time had similarites. We all can agree if more rappers today cared about the quality of there music like these 2 did years ago,hip hop would be so much better and classic albums would still be being made(and I don’t consider a album that’s popular because of promotion and only has 4 hot joints out of 15 a classic)

  • R.O.D.K.I.N.G.

    anyone who thinks B.I.G. Was better than Pac Lyrically Needs to stop….Big could spit and had Flow but bigs wordplay was simplistic compared to Pacs stuff…unless u from ny or the east coast you gonna bias toward Big. Other than that 2PAC IS UNIVERSAL.

  • S.

    Damn. Pac knew EVERYBODY lol!!

  • http://www.skype.com/delight.masuku Dilight Mkhanyeli Masuku

    Talk about that Plastic Shyt Biggie did. to be honest there was only one song on each album that I like on both Biggies ONLY two albums. All of Pacs albums were amazing; he was the bfirst artist ever to come out with a double album. Biggie rapped as if he was about to faint I (lame the nigga needed to loose weight). Before I even get to Pac, Big Pun & Big L were better rappers to me. they had more street cred, and they were real. Puffy was all about plastic, dayam!@!I cant even define that shyt. Tupac influenced, mentored and inspired alot of artists and individuals alike. Each album was different…He grew musically. Tupac was very much involved inthe production of his songs to a later stange. To this day I have never felt any of biggie’s shyt. Tupac was deep. Even Mobb Deep/Nas did the job better for me than Big. To this day i dont see my self wasting money on any of Biggie’s trash. There is only one thugging album bad boy ever mad. Black Rob’s life stories. R.I.P thanks for putting all the hardwork for your fans.

  • http://XXLMag.com JohnQ

    Hello people are you listening to Pac’s lyrics? Alot of his posthumous stuff is recycled material from is other albums. Although there are a few that are new to my ears only because I am from the East and I am a Biggie Fan!!!!

    Rip to both Biggie and Pac!!!!

  • Lee Rixx

    Shock G said it perfectly in an interview. When people are saying that 2pac is better they mean that the things that 2pac had to say were more potent and that 2pac was the better human being. Don’t forget his routes. He came from an influential background that grew stemmed from people like Martin Luther and Malcolm X.
    There is no doubt to any smart human being that 2pac was far more influential than Biggie, to think otherwise is just ignorant