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Inside The Mind Of Shakur
From the book "Tupac Shakur by the editors of VIBE."

[June 1996]

Questions have constantly been raised to whether or not Tupac Shakur has matured after his incarceration several months ago. VIBEonline conducted an exclusive interview with Tupac to find what realy is making him tick, and what exactly has him ticked off.

What motivates you?

Poverty, needs, wants, pain. Now I'm dealing with a more military type of philosophy-to mix the street life with respected, known, and proven military philosophy. So when I'm rapping and talking that hardcore shit, at least it'll be from a military mind-set.

What about your father-do you have any relationship with him?

I thought my father was dead all my life. After I got shot, I looked up and there was this nigga that looked just like me. And he was my father; that's when I found out. We still didn't take no blood test but the nigga looked just like me and the other nigga's dead, so now I feel that I'm past the father stage. I do want to know him and I do know him.

We did talk and he did visit and help me when I was locked down, but I'm past that. What I want to do is form a society in which we can raise ourselves; so we can become our own father figures and the big homies can become their father figures, and then you grow up, then it's your turn to be a father figure to another young brother. That's where I want to start. Nine times out of ten, though, we would want them to be there, they can't be depended on to de there. Now, some of the mothers can't be there because they doing their thing [working]. I can't blame them, they gotta do what they gotta do. So I think the youth should raise themselves since they got lofty ideas about what't theirs and their rights, what they should deserve. Since you can't whup their asses, these motherfuckers should get out and work at fifteen. I want to be a part of the generation that builds the groundwork for us to raise each other.

In one of your VIBE interviews, you mentioned an organization that you were starting with Mike Tyson. What happened whit that?

Now I'm doing it with Death Row. I was going to do it myself and I found out when I was about to be sentenced to jail that there was a spot called "A Place Called Home." I was about to be sent to jail for an old gun case that I had. The Judge was like "You can tell your side of who you are" and the prosecutor gave this big fat envelope of every time I got arrested and all this stuff that made me look like a crazed animal.

We got someone who didn't work for us to write my life's story, talking about everybody in my family and people that I helped. This lady from the community center wrote as well. We were planning already to do this big concert with me and my homeboys to raise money to have a center in North Central where we can have the "at risk" kids come to a spot that can call home-where they can get guidance, tutoring, love, nurturing. We're going to do a spot like that.

So instead of it just being a program with me and Tyson like I planned it, 'cause it's me sitting in the penitentiary thinking, is now moved into this program called "A Place Called Everybody Home" that I'm working closely with. There's also a program called "Celebrity Youth League," whit me, Hammer, Suge, and all these sports figures each going to sponser a youth group all year in football, baseball, and basketball. We sponsor the teams, buy the uniforms, hire the coach, and start our own Little League.

How do you relax from all this that you're doing?

There's three ways: shopping, driving down Sunset with the top down on any car, and being with my homeboys. Not necessarily the older homies but the younger ones. Vibing off of what they're talking about and what's going on, and dropping whatever I have to drop to them. Then it's not like I'm doing this shit in vain.

Do you still keep in touch with old friends?

On the whole, I don't have any friends. Friends come and go; I've lost my trust factor. I believe I have people who think they're my friend. And I believe that there are people probably in their heart who are friends toward me or are friends to me. But they're not my friends, because what I learned is that fear is stronger than love. So soon as somebody scaries comes along, they won't be my friend anymore. I learned that on the floor at Times Square-so I don't have friends, I have family. You're either my all-the-way family or just somebody on the outside.

Are you tight with your family?

Yeah, we took it back to the old school. We got the head of the family, we listen to the rules and regulations, order and organization. Now we're a living, breathing family, when before we were dying, dysfunctional family. We still got problems but now we're learing how to deal with it.

What religion are you?

I'm the religion that to me is the realist religion there is. I try to pray to God every night unless I pass out. I learned this in jail. I talked to every God [member of the Five Percent Nation] there was in jail. I think that if you take one of the "O's" out of "Good" it's "God," if you add a "D" to "Evil," it's the "Devil." I think some cool motherfucker sat down a long time ago and said, Let's figure out a way to control motherfuckers. That's what they came up with-the bible. 'Cause if God wrote the bible, I'm sure there would have been a revised copy by now. 'Cause a lot of shit has changed. I've been looking for this revised copy-I still see that same old copy that we had from then. I'm not disrespecting anyone's religion, please forgive me if it comes off that way, I'm just stating my opinion.

The bible tells us that all these people did this because they suffered so much, that's what makes them special people. I got shot five times and I got crucified in the media, And I walked through with the thorns on, and I had shit thrown on me, and I had the word thief at the top; I told that nigga, "I'll be back for you. Trust me, it's not supposed to be going down, I'll will be back." I'm not saying I'm Jesus, but I'm saying we go through that type of things every day. We don't part the Red Sea, but we walk through the 'hood without getting shot. We don't turn water to wine, but we turn dope fiends and dope heads into productive citizens of society. We turn words into money-what greater gift can there be? So I believe God blesses us, I believe God blesses those that hustle. Those that use their minds and those that averall are righteous. I believe that everything you do bad comes back to you. So everything that I do that's bad, I'm going to suffer for it. But in my heart, I believe what I'm doing in my heart is right. So I feel like I'm going to heaven.

I think heaven is just when you sleep, you sleep with a good concience-you don't have nightmares. Hell is when you sleep, the last things you see is all the fucked-up things you did in your life and you just see it over and over again, 'cause bullets burn. There's people that got burned in fires, does that mean they went to hell already? All that is here. What do you got there that we ain't seen here? What, we're gonna walk around aimlessly like zombies? That's here! You ain't been on the streets lately? Heaven now, look! [he gestures to his plush apartment.] We're sitting up here in the living room, big-screen TV-this is heaven, for a moment. Hell is jail-I seen that one. Trust me, this is what's real. And all that other shit is to control you.

If the churches took half the money that they was making and gave it back to the community, we'd be all right. If they took half the buildings that they use to "praise God" and gave it to motherfuckers who need God, we'd be all right. Have you seen some of these got-damn churches lately? There's homeless people out here. Why ain't God lettin' them stay here? Why these niggas got gold ceilings and shit? Why God need gold ceilings to talk to me? Why does God need colored windows to talk to me? Why God can't come here I'm at where he sent me? If God wanted to talk to me in a pretty spot like that, why the hell he send me here then? That makes ghetto kids not believe in God. Why?

So that's wrong religion-I believe in God, I believe God puts us wherever we wants to be at. That didn't make sense that God would put us in the ghetto. That means he wants us to work hard to get up out of here. That means he's testing us even more. That makes sense that if you're good in your heart, you're closer to God, but if you're evil, then you're closer to the devil; that makes sense! I see that everyday all that other spooky shit, don't make sense. I don't even believe, I'm not dissin' them, but I don't believe in the brothers, I've been in jail with 'em and having conversations with brothers; "I'm God, I'm God." You God, open the gate for me. You know how far the sun is and how far the moon is, how the hell do I pop this fuckin' gate? And get me free and up outta here. Then I'll be a Five Percenter for life.

What type of woman would it take to settle you down?

A very, very strong woman. One who's more in love with me because I could be more in love with her than she is. Every time I fall in love with a woman, I don't fall in love whit the woman she is, I fall in love with the woman she could be. I haven't found a woman yet that met my standards. And I'm sure I don't fit up to everyone's standards. But I heaven't found yet, but I found one that I think has the potential to be the rawest woman in the world.

I feel like it's natural for a man, especially being black, to feel like he's the king and he's looking for his queen. That's where I'm at right now. You can't be a king until you've made yourself, until you've done something. And I've accomplished my goals that made me a man. Now I set out goals to make me a king. Not a king of anyone else but me. Nobody else is under my rule but me. I made myself into a king, now I need a queen to be happy so I can be a teacher and a father. I can't be that until I find a queen-so I'm stuck in limbo.

A lot of youre East Coast fans feel like your new allegiance to the West Coast is a disloyalty to the East.

That's so much nonsense. Poppycock! (He laughs.) It's not a new allegiance to the West Coast, I've been on the West Coast all this time. Some people, not all, some people on the East Coast are on theire dicks so hard, they never heard me say that I'm living on the West Coast. It's just by me keeping it real, I always said where I come from. I always gave New York their props. On Me Against the World, I took a whole song to give it up. So now on the next albuw, when I wanna give it up, for my home, where I'm at, everybody got a problem. Why don't they have a problem with Biggie saying "Brooklyn in the house" every fucking show he do? They just did a Sprite commercial with "The Bridge" and KRS, why isn't it hip hop when I do it?

Everybody else can have a beef within the music, talk about differences and it's OK. It's music, it's hip hop, it's groundbreaking. When I do it, it's war. That's all I'm doing. All I'm doing is saying that I'm tired of you talking about where you're from. If that's what we're gonna do now. We was doing it like hip hop was one nation. I have proof to say what I was doing-I've done more for the East Coast than the East Coast did. I put more guns in East Coast niggas' hands then East Coast niggas did when they came out here. I put them niggas on to more weed gates and weed spots and safe havens and safe spots than East Coast did. I put more rappers on than they did. I gave Biggie his first Shows! I was that bridge that niggas used to walk on to get over here. I explained it, I was the one that told you. I'm why all these niggas are running around with a gangbanger on their payroll now.

Is there still a beef going on between you and Biggie?

There was never a beef, only a difference of opinion. My homeboy Suge gave me the best advice that I could ever get from anybody. When people ask him if he's beefing with Bad Boy and Puffy, he's says it's like me going to the playground to pick on little kids. That's like me being mad at my little brother 'cause he's getting cash now. I'm not mad at that, I'm just mad at my little brother when he don't respect me, I'ma spank that ass. I don't give a fuck how rich you got on the block, I'm your big brother. I'ma break your big ass down. That's my only point.

I feel as though he got out of hand. He got seduced by the power-not because he's an evil person, but because money is evil if it's not handled right. If you lose your composure, you could do anything. Fear got stronger than love and niggas did things that they weren't really supposed to do. They know in their hearts that's why they're in hell now. They can't sleep. That's why they're telling all the reporters and all the people "Why they doing this? They fucked up hip hop, blah, blah, blah." 'Cause they in hell. They can't make money, they can't go anywhere, they can't look at themselves, 'cause they know the prodigal son has returned. I'm alive; the ghost is walking around.

Now, everybody who thinks that I disrespected, I love my East Coast fans. I'm from there. I'm eating NewYork pizza, I drive New York jeeps, but I'm saying let's keep it real for a second. If you're half the lover of music that you are, go back and study. Study how "Party and Bullshit" was me before I met Biggie. You don't hear my style in his raps. Study how after I met Biggie, Ready to Die comes out and his whole style changed. Study why I would be mad when half of the major New York rappers or their managers, or their agents, or their somebody was there when I got shot-and nobody couldn't give me no information. Just study that. Study how when Wu-tang got their chain snatched at six-six-deuce, I not only found who did it but gave them the message that if they wanted to see the niggas that did it, they could see them. Man to man, just you and them-no guns, no nothing if you feel like that. That's all I ask for. If you're going to act like a gangster or a G or a king of New York, I'ma expect that. And when you don't come through, then I'm going to want to crush your empire. And that's what it's time for.