Tupac on Growing Up Poor, His Rise to Fame & His Future (1995) | MTV NewsArticles . Blog
– Tell me what does
Tupac Amaru Shakur mean. – Okay. It means, I was named
after this Inca chief from South America whose
name was Tupac Amaru, but it’s a lot of people
named Tupac Amaru. It’s like a whole tribe named Tupac Amaru. So my mom named me after this Inca chief. And I think the tribal
breakdown means like, intelligent warrior, something like that. – I see.
– He’s a deep dude. (interviewer laughs) He is, he is. If I go to South America, they gonna love me, I’m telling you. – [Man] It’s like, you
don’t even wanna see me. – They call this place weirdo beach. I don’t know, it ain’t that weird to me. (people exclaiming) – When you first moved to Oakland, that was your first stop in California? – Right. – And–
– No, no. Marin City was before Oakland.
– Marin City, okay. – Then Oakland. – Well you left Baltimore
and came to Marin City. And when you were in Baltimore, you were in a school
of the performing arts. How come you didn’t enroll in one when you came to California? – I couldn’t find one. When I came to California, I was broke, so I had to go to a regular high school. – But you eventually dropped out, right?
– Yup, sure did. I didn’t have enough credits. Everybody was about to graduate, I had came, went into the 12th grade, I was about to graduate, everything. Right before I was about to graduate, they was like, you gotta
come back next year and get a health credit and
a physical education credit. And I was like, oh, hell no. I had just barely mad it out with money coming to school and
lunch money and all that. I said I gotta get paid, I gotta find a way to make a living. So I dropped out, knowing
that I would’ve graduated, it wasn’t no big thing. Not to say that y’all shouldn’t graduate, but for me, at that particular time, it was more important that
I find some way to live. – But you did your GED,
you moved out on your own. – [Tupac] Mm-hmm. – So what did you get as
far as a job is concerned? What did you do when you
stopped going to school? – I only had two jobs ever in my life. One was in Round Table Pizza. I used to make the pizza. But it was good, it was
the perfect Job to have because I was hungry and I got to eat all the toppings off people’s pizza. That’s why, hey,
everything is right there, could you imagine? I was making pizzas on the side. (both laugh) Bringing pizzas home, I’m
calling in my own deliveries. Lemme get two shrimp with everything. But that job, I lasted about a month. Then I worked as the guy that packs your bags in the supermarket for about, let’s see, two weeks. Then the dude kept catching me writing raps by the time clock. I used to be like, I’ma write four hours, I’ll work four hours.
– Instead of loading people’s groceries?
(Tupac laughs) – She can carry her own shit. So, got fired.
– Did it ever occur to you that you might be able to get scholarships to go to college or was that just not even as issue?
– I always wanted to go to college, but I wanted to go to college and be comfortable. I don’t know, this might be presumptuous, but I know a lot of
people that in college, they had their lives already
okay, you know what I mean? Like someone’s paying for
them to go to college, they have somewhere to
live, got somewhere to live while they’re going to college,
used to know they get money, somebody can pay their
tuition and all of that. I don’t have that, and
until I can have that, I can’t go to college
even though I want to. ‘Cause that type of shit, that turn me on. – With all the encouragement
that you got in Baltimore at the high school of
performing arts for your acting, did it ever occur to you
to come out to California and be a professional actor here when your mom moved out here? – No, that was the last thing on my mind. I came to California, I
was broke, nowhere to stay. – What do you mean nowhere to stay? – I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I was staying with a friend of a friend of a friend of my mother. – Why weren’t you
staying with your mother? – ‘Cause she was in Baltimore,
we didn’t have any lights, any electricity, we was
about to get evicted. So she sent me first. You know, how mothers do. Protect the young. So I went out there broke,
I wasn’t even thinking about acting, I was just
thinking about surviving. But, such is life, I ended up doing it, what I loved the most, I ended up doing both of those things. – During that time when
you went California, your mother was in Baltimore, is that when she was a crack addict? – No, she was addicted to
crack when I was in California. First week in California. What’s up? – What’s up, man?
– All right, what’s happening? – [Interviewer] And what was that like, to have a mother who
was addicted to crack? – I love my mom, she the bomb to me, so, I love all of her mistakes.
– I know she is now, but what about then? – It was hard, it was hard. Because, you know, she was my hero. She is my hero.
– Did you ever have any temptation with crack? – Never, ever in my, never, never. My father died like that. Well, the man that I knew as my father. The man that I knew as my
father, he died with cocaine, so, it was never my thing. – And why do you think that your mother had that time of weakness with crack? – Everything was just going bad for her. It’s harder for a woman to raise a family than it is for a man. Oh-ho, yes. All day. (interviewer laughs) Whatcha think?
– That’s you. – Little bit of me? Tip it to the side, a
little somethin’, somethin’. It ain’t my style, they not Gaultier. – Give me a characterization
of your childhood. How would you describe what
it was like growing up? – I was the total opposite
of what I am right now. I was quiet, withdrawn, I read a lot, I wrote
poetry, kept a diary. I watched TV all the time, I stayed in front of a television. I went to movies, everything. – What did you do that was, I mean. It seems like going
from a homeless shelter to a project, or having to worry about having enough food on the table must’ve been very difficult. How did you deal with that? Were there any therapeutic
ways for you to heal yourself? – I smoked weed, I hung out with the drug dealers and the criminals. – And that made you feel better? – Interestingly enough, yes. Because they have those same problems. And they found a way to get out of it. As a kid, this is what I was thinking. – And so did you end up selling drugs also because those were your role models?
– I think I tried, I tried selling drugs maybe two weeks, then the dude was like, aw
man, gimme my drugs back. ‘Cause I didn’t know how to do it. I sell, somebody didn’t pay me back, I’d be like, oh, it’s okay. – Smoked most of it. – Nah, I never smoked it, never smoked it. I’d just be like, it’s okay,
you don’t have to pay me back. Dudes would give me their watch and say, gimme this amount for my watch. – Like you were a pawn shop also. – And I’d give him his watch
back and he didn’t give me no money, so dude’s like, no more for you. So then the dope dealers
used to just look out for me. When I would come by from school, they’d just give me money, and be like, don’t get involved with this,
get out there, do your dream. So they was like my sponsors. – You need to get him on film. – [Tupac] Why, why? – That boy sayin’ Tupac watches. Tupac watches, I got ’em right here. (men laugh)
– You need to get him on film.
– You got some Tupac watches? (overlapping chatter) – He talking about Tupac watches. – He gettin’ his old.
– You ain’t got no Rolos, man? – [Watch Salesman] No, man,
I goin’ be heading off. You got the real one on though, huh? – Yeah, no doubt.
– Shit, that nigga got the fat-ass shit on.
– I know you gots a little $50 watches, go ‘head, man. How business doin’? – It all right, you oughta
go on take some too, you know, you the man.
– No man, see, I don’t wanna. – You gotta go take ’em off my hands.
– You need to sell some, I don’t wanna mess up your thing out here.
– You ain’t gotta, you ain’t gotta mess up nothing. – Yeah.
– All right then. Tupac got the money. – [Passerby] Hey, what’s up, Tupac? – [Pedestrian] Right here,
Tupac autograph, $20, I got you. – You’re supposed to put, I love you. Put, I love you, Rachel. – How did you go from making pizza to being in Digital Underground? – I used to rap everywhere, I
was on of those people, man. I put my tape in the tape deck, I interrupt talks, conversations
and just start rapping. So I met up with one person,
one person hooked me up with another person,
this lady named, Leila introduced me to Atron Gregory, who was managing Digital Underground. He was like, I’ma send you
to Digital Underground, they in the studio. You just rap for Shock G on the spot. If he like you, then I’ll pick you up. – And so what was your first
interaction with Shock G? Was he totally impressed? – Yeah, I just walked in, rapped for him, he was like, okay, good, you’re in. Boom, boom, boom, all right, see ya later. And I just left, walked
out of there like, dag. – Was he wearing that big nose thing for it?
– No, he was just chillin’. He was just normal. – Do you look back on
those days with fondness or a little embarrassment? – I look back with the greatest fondness. Those were like, some of the
best times of my life, ’cause– – Well, when I mentioned
Digital Underground to you yesterday, you were like, (groans). – No, because, it just
brings back like, silly, yeah, I guess it’s embarrassing too, but it’s all funny to me, it’s all good. The silly parts is like me running around in zebra-print underwears and, making simulated sex with blew-up dogs. We had like, the funniest, craziest show. I think hip-hop need another
Digital Underground right now. – Do you ever talk to any of them anymore? – No doubt, Shock G. He was involved with Me Against the World. He came to see me in jail. – He did?
– Yeah, no doubt. (tattoo gun buzzing) How long you think it’s gonna take? – [Tattoo Artist] 10 minutes. Just in black?
– Yeah. – [Tattoo Artist] $40, minimum charge. – At what point in your early
life were you introduced to this, quote, unquote, thug mentality? – When I was out there by myself with nowhere to stay and no money. – [Interviewer] Which city? In California? – Bits of it was in Baltimore. Pieces of it was in Marin City. And then the rest came in Oakland. – And what was your first introduction? Drug dealers or? – Drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes. That’s really it, criminals. But they weren’t like,
young, glamorous guys. They weren’t like, they didn’t seduce me like that.
– Why did you wanna hang out with them then? – They the only people that
cared about me at that point. When I had nowhere to go and I was hungry.
– But you said your mother always cared about you. – She did, but she was lost
at that particular moment. And she couldn’t, she wasn’t caring about herself at that moment. Being the man, I needed a father, I needed a male influence in my life. And these were the males. The other males who could’ve
been a more positive influence on me, were too scared
to come where I was. Or they didn’t have the money or they didn’t have the heart or whatever. – Well tell me about not
growing up with a father. Why didn’t you grow up with a father? – It’s not just me, it’s
a lot of people, but– – In your case.
– I didn’t because I mean, the times that I came up
in was like, the late ’60s, they was still having free love, they was just hitting
was they was hitting. My mother got pregnant and didn’t really, wasn’t really getting with the guy that got her pregnant.
– She was married to someone else at the time, right?
– Nah, no, she wasn’t married. My mother was out just living her life. Thank you, I appreciate it, thank you. And she got pregnant and had
me, I didn’t have a father. – And my father–
– Did you know who the father was,
your biological father? – I still don’t know who it is, for sure. I have never taken any blood tests. The guy who I knew as my father, who claimed to be my father,
he passed away, he died. – And is that Legs? – Yes, but then recently after I got shot, this other guy came, was like, he was my father and he looks like me. He been in the jail to see me. His kids look like me. – Well what was that like? – That was the bug-out. I just woke up and he
was standing over me. – In jail? – When I was in the hospital. – And what did he, I
mean, do you believe him? – I do, in a way,
because he looks like me. And his kids look like me. – Why don’t you get a
blood test to find out? – It’s scary. – Is it pointless now? – In a way. I mean, I’m not gonna love him any more or love him any less, so, it’s pointless. – Did he explain why he left? – Yeah. – What did he say? – It was personal, it wasn’t, you know, I don’t wanna put his word. I’ll tell everything about me, but I don’t wanna give out his business. – That’s cool. Can you tell me why you
looked at Legs as your father? – Because the way my
moms told me was like, he didn’t even care, he was like, yo. ‘Cause he slept with her
around the same time. So he was like, you had a kid? She was like, yeah. He came and saw me in the
bed, I had a real big head when I was a little kid,
same thing like right now. And he’s like, oh, that’s my son. No blood test, nothing, he’s
just like, that’s my son. Took care of me, gave me money. But he was like a criminal too, he was a drug dealer out
there doing his thing. So he only came, brought
me money, material things. – You said that you had to go through a lot of tough times on the streets and you had to suffer a
lot of abuse as a child. What kind of specific abuse
are you talking about? – I’ma write a book and tell everything. – [Interviewer] So
you’re not gonna tell me? – Then I wouldn’t get no–
– I mean, are we talking– – Then I wouldn’t get
no money for my pain. I’d rather write a book about it. Get paid for my pain.
– You don’t count all those number one albums
as money for your pain? – Yeah, but, I wanna write
about, it’ll be deeper. – All right, all right. Your mother said that
Tupac has always been the person who makes up the game. – Yup. – Do you know what she meant by that? – I don’t know what she meant, but– – How do you interpret it? – That (laughs) I puts it down. (laughs) – [Interviewer] You what? – I put it down, I put it down. If it’s about rap music, if
it’s about acting, whatever, I wanna get into the head
seat, to the front seat. So I do what I gotta do
to get to the front seat. I work hard. I gotta be involved, I gotta excel at it. It can’t be a small thing,
it gotta be a big thing. And I believe that I’m
a natural-born leader. I don’t really take
orders, I can take orders ’cause I’m a good soldier,
but I like to give orders. I like to say, you know, I
like to follow my own heart. But I don’t like to control other people. I think everybody should be the leader. – Well that’s why it confuses me. It seems like those characteristics are the characteristics of somebody who would want to find out who shot them. I don’t understand why
you can take five bullets and not be doing everything in your power to find out who did it. – ‘Cause, I’m saying, and then what do I do?
– Do you not believe that there’s justice, do you not believe you have a shot?
– And then what do I do when I find him, and then what
do I do when I find him? – Press charges. Attempted murder. – The police know who shot me. – And you don’t believe that they’re doing all they can to do that. – Def, they’re not doing
everything they can to do that. They know who shot me. I already know who shot me. Number one, number two. It’s like, everybody knows who shot me. The police know who shot me. I don’t have no problems.
– If they know who shot you, how come you don’t know who shot you? – Because.
– They won’t tell you? – Nah, it’s just, I don’t know. That situation with me is like, what comes around goes around. Karma, I believe in karma,
I believe in all of that. I’m not worried about it. They missed. I’m not worried about it
unless they come back. All right.
– Best one in here, aw. Want me to put it in a bag for you? – Yeah.
– All right. And by the way, no tax for you. – That’s okay, that’s mine.
– You know what? You my home boy. – Tupac, what’s up, brother? – What’s up?
– What’s up, brother? – All right, how are you? – Why don’t you stop and
buy some incense, man, make me rich, man? – Nah, I got so many incense,
I’m starting to stink. – Give me some lovin’, man. – [Passerby] What’s up, Tupac? How you doin’?
– What’s up, all right. – You grew up without a father. How do you feel like your
life would be different if you had grown up with a father? – I’d have some discipline. I’d have more confidence. – You seem pretty confident to me. – Now I am. Because now, I believe
that I’m my own man. And I’m a man. Money gave me confidence. The screams of the crowd
gave me confidence. But before that I was a shell of a man. – Do you feel like one day
that you’ll be a good father? – I think I’d be a very, very good father. – Why? – Because I love kids. I love the innocence. It just does something to my chest. The innocence that they have
and how they look up to you. And how you can’t do no wrong to them. And I love that, man. I would do anything, I’d
do damn near anything. I’d do damn near anything for ’em. All the kids in my life,
my nieces, nephews, all, they get anything they want. They got the best Christmases, everything, they get whatever they want. I’ma sucker for ’em. (both laugh) But I wouldn’t have any kids myself because I’m scared to bring
any children into this world, especially any black children. – For now? Or forever?
– For right now. Just for right now. – [Interviewer] Tell me about being raised by a mother who’s a Black Panther. – It was great to me, because she taught me how to
be more international, instead of being local. And I did get some principles from her that will always be with me. She taught me how to
be community-oriented. I think my mother taught
me to understand women a lot more than my peers can. – You’re in touch with your feminine side? – I think so, I think so. – [Interviewer] How do you know? – Because I can be around,
I’m not uncomfortable around women, I’m not
uncomfortable around strong women. I don’t get like a predator thing going when I’m around demure females. I don’t get a thing like this when I’m around strong females. I like being around
females, I’m comfortable. I could get with them on every level. To where I got homies that just get straight nervous around females. – Weren’t you going to maybe start a community center with Mike Tyson? – I am. – [Interviewer] Is that progressing? – What I’m trying to
now is have this program where I’ma have like, a rap league. For like, me, Tupac will
have his own football team, and Koolio will have a football team, and Treach will have a football team, and we all sponsor the team.
– Made up of kids in neighborhoods?
– Right. We sponsor the teams, have big games. Probably get MTV to come
do the world series. Get all the community
people, like the churches, to come out there and sell food. Get the fathers and the
uncles to be security. And get the FOI and the
deacons and everything. And bring the community spirit back. And then on the weekends,
we’ll have block parties. So I’m doing all this to raise money. Then we have get-a-date fundraisers, like, people try to get a date with Tupac or Treach or
one of the other rappers. – And where would the money go to? – We’ll have a neutral center where we’ll get the money together. And that’ll be for, we’re
trying to get a community center in every ghetto in the United States. – It seems to me that you are trying to distance yourself from
a thug life mentality. – Not that, I’m just
trying to show who I am. People locked up on one part of me that they really did not understand. So now I’m trying to do two things. One, help them understand the part of me that they didn’t understand,
and two, is to show that this is the type of things
that young black males can do. We can do anything if
you just give us a shot, stop trying to beat us down. – Tupac, your life has been
marred by considerable pain. Do you think you’ll ever get to the point where you can live a normal, happy life? – No. But. I’m going for it, I’m trying for it. And until then, I have to
make the life that I do live as happy as I can and try to
do the best with what I have. Live the best life I can
live, be as happy as I can be. Nothing is perfect for anybody. I don’t think.
Written by Michelle Gutierrez
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