AllHipHop.com: “I Get Around” is on the same album as the next song I want to talk about, “Keep Ya Head Up.” ‘Pac seemingly contradicts himself by pleading the following line: “When he tells you, ‘You ain’t nothin’ don’t believe him. And if he can’t learn to love you, you should leave him” What’s up with that?
Adisa Banjoko: ‘Pac made songs about the Black woman. He did songs about the importance of rebuilding the black family, even though he himself was struggling in pursuit of those things. [He] always went head-up against the actual structure of America. Now you have people who try to act like ‘Pac. but nobody will pick up the torch to attack the infrastructure and redeem the Black woman. These cats ain’t even donating money to his charity. But sure enough, they’ll pour a little liquor out after they get an award and talk about how important he was in their life. But they don’t do nothing for him, for what he believed in, or for his institutions.
Cormega: That’s what I’m saying about him being the perfect rapper. He’ll make a song like “I Get Around,” and parents will forbid their children from listening to him. But then he’ll make a song like this and all of a sudden he’s your parent’s favorite rapper. It’s hard to believe that this was the same rapper.
Chino XL: We tend to look at relationships as women being oppressed by men, but it goes both ways. Being a father and having a baby’s mother makes you put up with a whole lot for the love of your kid. It’s not really fair to say that the line only applies to women. No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, you can’t let a person take your energy. If can’t learn to love the person that you’re with, you should leave them to maintain your own spirit. If you give that away, you have nothing.
AllHipHop.com: Finally, “Hit ‘Em Up” was the song that split allegiances coast to coast. It began with a very powerful opening line that I want to hear your thoughts on. “I ain’t got no friends, that’s why I f**ked your b*tch you fat motherf**ker.”
Cormega: I learned not to involve myself in other people’s beefs because of songs like this. To this day, the only people who really responded were [Lil’] Kim and Mobb Deep.
DJ Fatal: I remember a story that Johnny J [the song’s producer] told me a few years ago. The record wasn't meant to be. The lyrics speak for itself; it's a very intense track. [But] from what I heard, the tape on the reel rattled and rolled off to the ground. The engineers had to piece the reel back together after it was recorded. Johnny J said that if you pay attention near the end of the track, you could hear the flaw. [Still] to this day nobody has ever recorded a greater beef record!
Chino XL: I guess he was trying to get Biggie’s goat. He was trying to get him mad.
AllHipHop.com: Chino, you’re the only artist on the panel that was dissed—by name—on that record. How did you feel the first time you heard it, or, in general what was your reaction?
Chino XL: I was a f**kin’ teenager, dog. I didn’t really look at it the people have imagined I looked at it. I just realized that I threw a slick metaphor [ “By this industry, I’m trying not to get f**ked like Tupac in jail.”] and I didn’t mean that much by it. I was a little f**kin’ kid just rhyming about whatever. He was really mad at that s**t and it wasn’t even that serious. Fortunately, before he passed, I got a chance to tell him that I didn’t mean nothing by it and that it was just a f**kin’ little lyric. He had so many bigger fish to fry at the time; it was the perfect moment to get it done right before he passed.
AllHipHop.com: Pudgee, you actually got a shout out at the end of the clean version of the song. Being that you were cool with both Big and ‘Pac, you were in a unique situation. What was that like? Was it ever weird being around Big?
Pudgee: ‘Pac was like my brother at that point. I actually didn’t know about the record when he first did it. People would just walk up to me like “Yo, ‘Pac gave you a shout out!” I’m from New York. I did joints with Big. It was a lil’ crazy. ‘Pac and me actually had a conversation about him not wanting me to choose sides between him and Big. My friendships with both of them were more than just music. I don’t know if Biggie had any animosity because of the record, but we was cool. You weren’t gonna make me choose between you and my brother.
AllHipHop.com: Any last thoughts?
Chino XL: ‘Pac’s approach to lyrics was “I’m gonna make you feel me.” Even if it don’t rhyme, I’m gonna make sure that when you walk away from this song, you’re blood is gonna pump the exact same gasoline that mine is pumping when I’m saying it to you. He had one of the greatest formulas of all time.
Buckshot: I’ll tell you one thing: ‘Pac sold 73 million copies. 73 million records! Ain’t no artist on this globe that sold damn near that many records in his lifetime on some rap s**t. Nobody, ever.
Cormega: I don’t care what anybody says, Makaveli is the real Black Album. That album got no promotion, no reviews—if I’m not mistaken The Source didn’t give it a review at the time—and it still made a huge impact in New York, where it got absolutely no radio play.
Adisa Banjoko: I walked into Club Townsend, which was a popular club in San Francisco at the time, and Run-DMC was performing with Brand Nubian. I just ran through the door with my friend. ‘Pac was on the phone and was like, “What’s up Bishop!” I was like, “What’s up, [and kept running].” A few minutes later, Money-B’s dad comes up to me and said, “Dude, what did you say to ‘Pac? He saw you coming through the door and you didn’t say nothing to him.” I found him and apologized for what went down. He let it go and was like, “Alright. You should come with me right now.” I told him I was gonna wait for Run-DMC instead. He was like, “Okay. [You’ll be sorry].” Tupac hits the stage with MC Serch and they have a f**kin’ freestyle session that I will never forget. The crowd went berserk. I remember ‘Pac looking at me, and he nodded like “I told you! You should have came on the stage with me, but you were too cool!” [Laughs] He was more offensive then he liked to admit, but he was also more forgiving than people understood.
AllHipHop.com: Pudgee, any more stories you’d like to share?
Pudgee: Another funny thing that me and him went through was at the Jack The Rapper convention in Atlanta. It was the year Suge and Dre had beef with Luke. It was crazy; they was throwing chairs off of the balconies for like 45 minutes. Everybody was running to avoid getting hit. Luke Campbell came with, like, a whole football team from Miami. Everybody was punching everybody in the face…Rage hit a cop…Latifah was wildin…it was a big deal. ‘Pac was like, “Yo, you think if we stand in the middle and get hit, we could sue some of them?” I was like, “I ain’t trying to die,” so we ran like everybody else. That was probably the extent of our stupidity. [Laughs]