An Interview With 2Pac's Mom
Afeni Shakur

This interview took place one week before the one year anniversary of 2Pac's untimely death.. His mother, Afeni Sakur who has been the subject of so much of 2Pac's work talked very passionately about her son.. During the interview his Godfather Geronimo Pratt rolled through.. and his sister Set also stopped through....

Davey D: The First thing I want to do is thank you for granting us this interview. We're up on the anniversary of your son's un-timely death. There are so many of us that are still in the shock, so many of us who can't believe it and so many of us within the Hip Hop Generation that are trying to heal from this. And one way we can bring about this healing, is to continue to study and learn about Tupac. I guess the best way to really do that is by talking to you his mom, Afeni Shakur. You're the person who can provide us with that bridge of information. After all, you're the woman who raised him, you're the person who helped shape him, and helped make him into the person whom we've come to admire. I guess the first thing I would like you to do is let our listeners know who Afeni Shakur was. You were a member of the Black Panther Party, you were pregnant with Tupac while in jail, as one of the infamous New York 21. Who is Afeni Shakur?

Afeni Shakur: Basically, first let me just say Peace and Respect to all of the listeners, and all of the people who care about my son, who care about his work and who care about his music. And the first thing I would like to do is give encouragement to Brothers & Sisters who are artists or trying to be artists. From the bottom of my heart, I encourage them to work on their art and to not allow anyone or anything to keep their artist spirit down. And that to me is really important.

And then having said that, let me say that I was a member of the Black Panther Party. I joined in 1968. When I joined, I wasn't a student. I did not come off the college campuses like a lot of known Panthers did. I came from the streets of the South Bronx. I had been a member of the Disciples Deads, which would have been the women Disciples in the Bronx.. What the Panther Party did for me, I used to always say it gave me home training. The Party taught me things that were principles to living, and those principles are the principles I think most Panthers have tried to pass on to their children and to anybody else that would listen to them. You know that one of those principles was like don't steal a penny, needle or a simple piece of thread from the people. It's just general basic things about how we as individuals treat a race of people, and how we treat each other as a people! And those are the things I think the people recognize in Tupac....

We discovered, that within the BBP, that is you try and live by these principles and you have attached to those principles a willingness and a desire to protect and defend your family and your people.. also if you have a large mouth and your willing to speak openly about those things, that you are going to be the victim of all kinds of attacks. That's basically what has happened to all of us. Tupac was and remains in my mind a child of the BBP. I think that I always felt that even through this society that they had destroyed the work of the BBP. I always felt that Tupac was living witness to who we are and who we were. I think that his life spoke to every part of our development and the development of the Party, and the development in this country that I don't think will die.

Davey D: One of the perspectives that people have put forth about Tupac was that he was a gangster.. and that, he was somebody who invited trouble.How do you address that? How should, especially those of us within the Hp Hop Generation perceive 2Pac?

Afeni Shakur: First of all, the difference in people's temperment and my temperment, our temperment is such that is just like you were asking me about a song 'Wade in the Water, God Gonna Trouble the Waters'. We want the waters troubled. We are trouble makers, it's what we are here for. We don't make apologies for it. Why would we? We are revolutionaries, the children of Revolutionaries.... I believe that this is true, basically of young people in any Generation. And that's just true naturally. For us, we're trouble makers, because why wouldn't we be trouble makers in a society that has no respect for us. That has no respect about what I began talking you about. The fact that it is a miracle that we sit here. I don't think that we are suppose to be anything but trouble makers. Tupac use to comment on people who critized him for cursing, as a matter of fact he said this is just about verbatum, 'As I walked into this hall, I passed a young child who was hungry. There is not a bigger curse than a young child hungry'. If we are not concerned about the incest, the rape, about our children dying at the rate that they are dying, I cannot imagine why we would be making all this noise about a word, any word.'..

Davey D: Do you think his music influenced people to move in a direction of violence? That was one thing, I remember the police in Houston wanted to sue him and say that he caused an officer to be shot....

Afeni Shakur: They did sue him in Houston and as a matter of fact, that campaign was started by C. Delores Tucker who has now sued Tupac's estate, namely Tupac's music. Has sued him for interferring with her and her husband's sexual life. Now, don't you think that's proposterous? Of course it is. And I think it's okay for us to say that it is.. and it's just as proposterous to think that music could influence you to do anything else. If that were possible, will someone, please, make a song that will influence us to not kill each other. Please, I beg any person to do that. That should be simple under that mentality. But obviously, that's an irrational concept, and that's what I mean about us thinking. Don't allow people to think for you. Let's use ration. It's okay for us to do it.

I'll tell you something else, for people who feel so bad about Tupac's leaving this planet, we should remember that each of us come here with a beginning date and an ending date. Tupac's beginning was June 16, 1971 and his end was September 13th, 1996. In the 25 years that God gave him on this earth, he shone like a star, and he did all that he was suppose to do, he said all that he needed to say. You need not weep for Tupac, but weep for yourself, because we are left here with these contradictions that we still must face.

Davey D: The whole rivarly between Tupac and Biggie and to see both of them at the height of their careers, as far as a lot of people are concerned gone. Have you ever talked to Biggie's mom? You know you guys are looked at in a way where it's like well, wow if we can't get next to them, we have to get next to their mothers. What words do you pass on about that? And what are your thoughts on that?

Afeni Shakur: Let me say that my son was killed on 9/13/96 and Nov. 10th, Yafa Ufala, one of the Outlaws and a member of my son's group, and a member of our family was murdered... and on Jan. 12th a daughter of another member of the BPP was murdered in her bed with her baby playing in her bed while the killer, her husband, watched all day long. What I have known from the beginning is that I am not alone. And I am not alone does not mean that the only two people that got killed were Biggie and Tupac. I am so sorry, but every child's death is painful. To me, it's painful, because it's this process that we have to stop. We are right back to the same thing which is about ration and reason..and about winning. And as I said, Tupac had 25 years and he did 25 years worth of wonderful work. What the next person needs to know in whatever years they are alloted to them, is what have they done? And I'm sure that Biggie's mother must feel the same about her son. It's no use in people trying to swage their on guilt for their own deficiency by debating or spending that much time on Tupac and Biggie.

Davey D: What do you mean by swage?

Afeni Shakur: I mean that we all have to speak about our own issues. When we talk about rivarlries, with East/West Coast, I don't have any idea what that is. But let me say this, my son was shot on two separate occassions; the 1st was five times, twice in the head and at that time we though he could have died. So a year later he was shot again and he did die, but there wasn't a rivarly. My son was injured by gunshots and my son reacted through his msuic to what had happened to him and as I say, Tupac spoke eloquently about how he felt about all of that East/West Coast stuff. I would not try and change one period of a sentence that Tupac spoke about that, because Tupac was an honorable young man, He did not lie and whatever Tupac said happened, happened in that way. And I think that people have to deal with their responsibilities for whatever they have done or not done. That's a part of life also. Tupac dealt with his responsibilities, I think other people have to do the same.

Davey D: You talk about Tupac being honorable and speaking truth. How did you feel when he said things about you in records?

Afeni Shakur: He told the truth. I live with truth. I have no secrets. Neither did Tupac, neither does my daughter. We don't live behind secrets, we don't live lies, we are who we are, and we are pretty happy to be who we are. We are proud of who we are and we stand tall and defend who we are.

Davey D: Was it painful to hear him talk about you having a drug addiction? Was it something that you had to discuss or did you know that he would put some things that happened in his life in music for the public to look at and hear and formulate their own opinion?

Afeni Shakur: Let me first say that any of those songs that Tupac wrote was primarily the way he felt about something. You have a right to express your feelings. I do not have to agree with them. I needed him to say how he felt, specifically about the pain that I had caused him. That's how we heal ,and so you now for me it was Tupac explaining something that happened to his family, his reaction to it and his feelings about it. I think they were honest and I respect him for that. Absolutely and completely.

Davey D: Tupac has done a lot of thing in his career. What do you think he should have done differently in terms of the decisions he made? What sort of path do you think he should have continued on? Do you think he deviated, or went down the wrong corner in any of the things that he did?

Afeni Shakur: I think that Tupac made perfect decisions for himself. I would like to encourage young people to make decisions for themselves. You make decisions that you stand by and you take responsibility for them. Really, this is life, you try to make a difference in peoples lives, because you stand firm for something. So really, for me, Tupac was perfection.

Davey D: What do you think the mis-perceptions that you as his mom would like to clear up about him?

Afeni Shakur: The misconceptions are that Tupac was a rapper, the Tupac wasn't political and that Tupac was a gangster. But primarily I really think that time will take care of that. I have faith in Tupac's legend. I really believe in the divinity of legends. I believe that God choose Tupac and I believe that no human being can destroy his image, his legend, his life, his music or his work. So in reality I don't care what people say, because I truly believe that God sent him here. He sent him with a mission. He fulfilled his mission and he went back where he came from.

Davey D: What is it about Tupac that so many people admired, and still admires about him?

Afeni Shakur: His truth in the face of anything. And I think that you know that's why people don't want to believe that he is dead. Because they believe that Tupac could face anything, and come out on the other side. Let me say, so can you.

Davey D: It's been a year and there's been a lot of controversy surrounding his death in terms of who owns the estate, recording rights and situations involving the record company Death Row. What is happening with that? Can you give us an understanding on where things stand and where you hope to have things going?

Afeni Shakur: As it relates to Death Row, we have reached an agreement, a settlement of some sort and I'm sure that's probably resolved.

Davey D: There has been an iron hand placed upon people who might have had affilations with Tupac in terms of them releasing his earlier music. I guess that's good, because they have always had to come through and some how deal with you one way or the other before materials are released. Where does that stand now? Will we start to see hear some of his earlier recordings? Some of the things he left with Death Row, will they start to come out or are there other plans for releases of his music materials, movies, etc.?

Afeni Shakur: Well, some of Tupac's extended and biological family have started Amoru Records, which is a record company that Tupac would have started had he still been here. We are going to first release his earlier material so that people have a more comprehensive understanding of what his journey was. We have the end of his journey, it would probably be okay to have the beginning also, so that's what we are attempting to do with his first release. And after that, we would like to do a tribute album and an audio book of his poetry. We also are committed, within the next 2 or 3 years to developing and releasing up to 8 new artists. So prayfully we will be able to do that what we want to do is so business in a principle and ethically manner. And prayfully we will be able to do that outside of that, we are trying to negotiate a documentary about Tupac's life. Possibly and probably a feature film with HBOwith a producer by the name of Marvin Worth... What we wanted is for people not to steal Tupac's material.

It had really less to do with control than it had to do with stealing.. And the problem I have with stuff is that, I always say if Tupac were here would you do it? And to answer the question, you wouldn't do it if he were here.. First of all I have no respect for you because you are a coward.. And I know if Tupac was here he would call you one of those names that he knew oh so well.. And that's pretty much the way I feel about the Vibe Pictorial Book.. I found out about it when it was reviewed in Essence Magazine.. I had been speaking to Quincy Jones all year and he never mentioned it.. I have no respect for that kind of behavior.. People can buy what they want, but just don't expect me to say it's cool, because I am not.. and further more I ain't mad at nobody..

Davey D:What individuals do you see today that embody the revolutionary spirit that has often been associated with 2Pac? Who has that mindset?

Afeni Shakur: Well, I really think Sista Souljah has that type of spirit. I think Geronimo Pratt also has it..and so does Mumia Adul Jamal.. The fact is ..that I'm not whaling off the names of young brothers and sisters a mile a minute...It's not like Tupac was the most excellent person.. I just ask for people to be honorable, honest and honest to themselves about themselves and to be courageous about truth. When I can see more of that, I'll just feel a little better, but whether I do or don't I'm not mad at nobody...

Davey D: Is this a lost generation? Are we a lost generation?

Afeni Shakur: Absolutely not!.. Thank You Treach for your song.. Thank You Scarface for your song.. Thanks for the respect Bones Thugs N Harmony.. Thanks for the respect and at least musically understanding what my son was about and saying.. They've done that.. I thank them from the bottom of my heart...

Davey D:So tell us about the foundation...

Afeni Shakur: I just wanted to tell people that outside of music, Tupac was about the business of helping families and helping people.. We would like to continue that... We started the Tupac Amuru Foundation. We will be giving you notice about how people can get in touch with the foundation, whether they are interested in either obtaining or giving assistance.. We are really excited about that.. One of the first things we want to do with the foundation, is to build an Art Institute in the name of Tupac over in Marin City where that little boy was killed. We would like to leave something there that is an institution that goes on everyday and provides help for somebody in that community.. Tupac wanted to build Ghetto Heavens and Thug Heavens all over the country.. So that's the stuff we are going to do...

Davey D: Any idea who might have taken his life? Do you think the government had some connection with it?.. They talk about the rappers being the revolutionaries of the 80s and you see the same type of forces that divided the Black Panther Party at work with today's rap artists..?

Afeni Shakur: Yes I do.. But I just don't want to simplify things by saying that it was the government.. because that's another reason why I would like people to study The Art of War by Son Zu, and The Prince by Machavelli, so that they would have a better way of looking at things.. I don't think it's just the government.. I don't think our enemies are just in the gov't.. I believe it was in someone's interest to play this card out like this.. The other side of that is that whoever the person was that pulled the trigger and whoever participated in it and knows about it; those people will have to deal with that from here to eternity.. Not only will they have to live with it, but so will their children and their children's children.. I would not want to stand before God and say that I'm the one who took Tupac's life.. So what I have to say is more power to them..

2pac's sister Set rolls through and some questions are directed at her...

Davey D: What was it like growing up with 2Pac? What type of person was he? Was he the same type of person we got to know through film, records and video?

Set: If you listen hard and look..well yeah.. You grew up with him the same way I did.. It's just that I grew up with him longer..But everyone else grew up with him the same way I did.. Everything from Souljah's Story to Brenda's Got A Baby to Against All Odds. Everything he told may not have been his own, it may have been the way God wanted him to do it...You know they way of written law and stone that is truth, but the truth is your life... If it wasn't his truth, it was your truth, my truth the girl down the street truth, it was true to him...If he didn't go through it, I went through it. He felt what other people felt whether it was him or not....

Davey D: Did you grow up with him all your life?

Set: I am not too sure of the years.. but when my mother started to use drugs.. I started puberty and Pac started to become a star.. He was working on his career.. And it wasn't even a year before he went on the Japan tour with Digital.. It was the only year of my childhood that we were apart.. Besides then he got his own apartment and became an independent man

Davey D: Is there an expectation or pressure on you to try and continue to be an embodiment of 2Pac?

Set: I really feel like if anybody put that pressure on me, it's me. Religious people say, you've been touched by Jesus and proof is your life will never be the same again.. and you have changed another person's life. I feel like I've been touched by a Saint.. I have a son to raise and Pac was the man in my life as well as my sons.. Well, now I have to make myself learn how to deal alone...

Davey D: Any last words that you like us to know or any last things you would like us to keep in our hearts and minds about your son?

Afeni Shakur: Remember the words of my son.. Remember to Keep Your Head up.. Remember Against All Odds.. Nobody Can Judge You.. that's God's job.. Remember, the things 2Pac said..I just really ask people to really study his music and to listen to his music with an open heart and soothed mind.. Thank you very much.. Peace

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