“If Thug Life is real, then let somebody else represent it, because I’m tired of it. I represented it too much.”
He commenced his sentence at New York’s Rikers Island where he opened his mind by reading books on Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War and Niccolò Machiavelli’s, The Prince until he memorized it. He even wrote a screenplay called Live 2 Tell. Then Pac announced to Vibe he was done with gangsta rap. At the time of his Me Against the World release he told magazine reporter “If Thug Life is real, then let somebody else represent it, because I’m tired of it. I represented it too much.”
He even hinted at retiring to Arizona with his new bride and starting a family.(The marriage was soon annulled.) It was at this time a rumour spread that he was raped in Rikers by a Latino gang, soon after he was transferred to Clinton Correctional facility in Dannemora. Here he became engaged to Keisha Morris, a John Jay College graduate who refused to sleep with him on their first date and does not smoke dope. Tupac claimed she was his first girlfriend ever. It was at this stage where Tupac ashamedly admitted in a Vibe prison interview to be responsible for the assault on Ayanna Jackson.
“Even though I’m innocent of the charge, I’m not innocent in terms of the way I was acting… I’m just as guilty for doing nothing as I am for doing things.”
He regretted not aiding in the defence of the young woman from the two men who actually did rape her. Behind the bars, Pac was plotting vengeance against the party he believed to be responsible for setting him up in both the sexual assault case and attempted murder at Quad studios. Sean Combs, Andre Harrell and Biggie. It was the back-stabbing by Biggie that cut Pac the deepest, as they were close homies through Pac’s early career in New York. He had been convinced with letters received in prison detailing the Brooklyn rapper’s involvement. It was this escalating feud that catapulted the ‘East/West’ beef that plagued hip-hop during the mid ‘90s.
Out On Death Row
“I’m selling my soul to the devil.”
Tupac had more pressing issues, as his attorneys hired to defend him through criminal charges and lawsuits across the country had exhausted his bank account. During the past few years Pac had become the sole supporter of his mother, sister and her child, his aunt and her children and assorted family members. Financially crippled and his career in need of a jolt, Suge Knight was never too far with promises of relieving all his problems. He also carried the ability to release him from prison. What he offered was a lucrative deal to join his Death Row Records. Pac had a visitor from childhood friend Watani Tyehimba who insisted he should not sign over to Suge Knight… between tears Tupac admitted to him, “I know I’m selling my soul to the devil.” On October 12th Tupac had signed a three-page hand-written contract drafted by Death Row’s lawyer, David Kenner and was released from Clinton Correctional the same day, Knight paying his $1.4 million bail. Waiting outside was a large white limo and together they flew back to LA on a private jet, straight into the studio, Tupac vowed to bring Death Row back to the forefront of the industry. Interviewed on The Source magazine, Tupac proclaimed, “Whether the odds are in your favour or appear to be stacked against you, the Death Row family sticks with you.”
Tupac entered the stage like Tyson entered the ring fresh out of prison, hungry to return to form, the environment he thrived on. His first post-New York state prison performance was in Suge Knight’s infamous 662 Las Vegas night spot in November ‘95. In front of a crowd including Mike Tyson, NFL/MBL legend Deion Sanders and actor Forrest Whittaker filled to twice its maximum capacity of 680, drooling in anticipation for this break-out explosion of pent up energy and expression. With the crowd getting completely out of hand, Las Vegas police did not appreciate dealing with such drunk and volatile dangerous gang members and private associates of Death Row. However Tupac tore the roof off the club busting out his most popular hits and freestyles with ferocious animosity for those who kept him caged. This was repeated in the spring of ’96 for Tyson’s fight against Frank Bruno which saw him regain his heavyweight title. Tupac and Snoop Dogg both performed to a star-studded crowd of entertainers and athletes, as the club was becoming notorious for post-fight parties with Death Row performances.