If Tupac Were Here Today (Would He Be Here Today?)

Tupac Shakur is phenomenal. I use present tense because his influence is still with us today. Just like in our minds how fictional characters never die, same with ‘Pac.

I’m sure you all are aware of the rumors about how he’s hiding out in Cuba. Again I ask, if Tupac were here today, would he be here today? I don’t believe that he would be hiding out, when the world is in flux. Not after he catalyzed the modern resistance which the world is facing right now, by addressing police brutality that plagues inner cities, by addressing how the black community has been underserved and left vulnerable to poverty and sickness.

He is, in many minds, a symbol of the resistance against inequality. His words resonate with not only the fans who were there to witness his ascension in the music industry, but with kids and activists today, who are younger than I was at the time he was shifting the paradigm of gangsta rap away from the murderous depictions of Black on Black crime, to the social injustices that keep a knee on the neck of the Black and Brown community.

Tupac is here today. He’s in everyone who is involved in the struggle. I think he’d be proud at the fact that the foundation he laid out for the people has been bucked but not broken. In a sense, all eyez are on him, on me, on we. Happy bornday, Tupac. The shit ain’t over…

Loup D in a limited edition 2Pac Collection hoodie by Oakbay Fits

How I Shot Tupac

 

April 11, 1992. I was a writer for a magazine called No Sellout: The Tip-Top-Hip-Hop-Raggamuffin-Black-Rock-Mag-Rag. It was the first time I used the Loupy D moniker in print. One day I was walking around Hollywood soliciting “donations” for the publications to make soem extra dollars. As I walked by the Pig and Whistle on Hollywoood Blvd. I look in, and there was Tupac sitting at the bar alone, drinking beer from a mug. I walked in and sat next him. “Check out this magazine ‘Pac. I got the cover story,” I bragged. He reached in his pocket and gave me a couple of dollars. We talked about one article on misogyny in hip hop adn agreed that the community had to come together to stop all the self hatred we were inflicting on one another in the music. After our chat, he invited me to come to the release party for his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. I told him that I was already on the guest list because of the magazine, so we peaced out and I went on my way.

I bought a disposable, black and white 35mm camera from the Thriftys on the corner of La Brea and Rodeo. Later that night I got to Glam Slam, Prince’s old club on Boylston Street downtown. I couldn’t wait to see this brotha perform. I loved the energy he put out on stage as a backup dancer for Digital Underground; the same with his performance in the video when he dropped the verse on Same Song. I knew that he was going to give it up that night for his debut release party. Surprisingly, there weren’t many people at the show: mostly industry execs and a few heads from the underground community.

In 1992, Tupac was another brotha in the game coming up and shining his light. Who knew what he would become in the span of his short career and beyond? For millions, he represented the reawakening of a black activist movement that took a nap during the narcissistic decades of the 70’s and 80’s. He, along with other rappers, writers and influencers of Generation X, was a beacon for a future that has not forgotten the original resolve of the hip hop spirit, which is each one teach one, earn our fair share, and share it with the culture.

You can buy merchandise featuring photos from the night by clicking here.

The Saga Continues…

Twenty years ago, I was working for a magazine called Kronick, The Underground Chronicle. Everyone in L.A. – if they had any connection to the underground hip hop scene – knew about the Kronick. It got it’s name from the official soundtrack of the West Coast dropped by Dr. Dre in ’92, but the Kronick carried it’s own weight in notoriety.

Kronick had quite a reputation for an independent magazine. Just about every hip hop artist who blew on the mic between the years 1993-2003 knew what was up with the Kronick, and twenty years ago I met with one group that knew what was up with the Kronick.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan Double CD, “Wu-Tang Forever“, I am reprinting the interview that I took part in conducting while on set of the first video from the groundbreaking LP, “Triumph.”

The thing that artists liked about the Kronick was that we never minced words. We left the interviews uncut and pure, unlike many commercial magazines back in those days who would edit their stories for content. And that’s what was up with the Kronick… besides the fact that we smoked mad blunts with everyone we interviewed… (Did you see that one coming?)

Click here to read the Kronick Wu interviews.

Happy Holidays!!!

Hospitalized: Redo

IT HAPPENED AGAIN.

I love my work. I get to go places and see things most people don’t (until it’s broadcast), and get paid for the experience. But seriously, one of the best perks about the biz is the food!

My first year in the film industry I gained about twenty pounds, easy. Craft service was heaven laid out on three 6-foot long folding tables, free snacks and drinks to satisfy a hungry crew’s snack habits.

The first time I was ever hospitalized was because of craft service. I was producing a behind the scenes shoot for a Disney Channel show. It was a long day because the shoot schedule didn’t allow many opportunities for my team to interview the cast, so with all this wait time, I’m at crafty, munching on popcorn and cashews, calling myself being healthy. See, I gained those twenty in one year and it took me five to figure out how to lose it. I learned to stay away from the candies, sodas and the chips, and stick to the fruits, nuts, veggies and dips.

What happened that day is briefly documented in three previous blog posts, Hospitalized, Hospitalized – Do and Mended. Well, a few days ago, I had another ill food experience while working on a spot for the City of L.A. It was a run ‘n gun deal across the L.A. landscape, from the heart of downtown, to the Watts Towers to the beaches, we were catching some of the gem tourists spots of my sprawling town. On Day 2 of our shoot we stopped and ate at the Echo Park picnic tables with the locals. I made sure to hand sanitize but still, a little bacteria can creep up from just a thoughtless swipe on a bench or table and contaminate a meal in a minute.

Early the next morning, I was earling in the toilet, but I wasn’t going to let a little vomit keep me from making money, so I gathered myself and joined the crew for Day 3 of our adventure. By the time we got to action I was able and ready, but by midday, earl was calling again…

Needless, to say, I was sent home for the day. The situation was worse by the time I got home. I drove myself to urgent care down the street, and when she took my blood pressure, the nurse freaked. “220 over 180! You need to go to the hospital right now!” An ambulance was called, but my niece and her bae got there quicker. They rushed me to a Mid City emergency room and I was admitted immediately. The preliminary EKGs were abnormal… and they said I had the symptoms of a heart attack.

Oh shit.

I remained calm like an old Roots song, and let the doctors run their tests and scans. I was sad and glad to be there this time. I needed something to slow me down to think about what’s been going on. Lying there in that hospital bed, I thought about the past year and how much I’d done. The changes in my daily structure, like having to take two kids to school almost everyday, and dealing with a newly endowed teenager, are things for me now. I thought about the near death experience I had a few months ago: I was on my way to work one dark, early morning, barely a car on the road. I’m at the light, waiting to turn right on the green arrow. I get my light, and out of nowhere a Yukon came speeding through my turn lane, where I had to slam on the brakes to keep from getting smacked out of existence. After a pause to gather myself, I kept driving. The next song on my playlist was Deja Vu by Teena Marie. The words to that song took on a whole new meaning for me, and I cried my eyes out as I listened to it over and over again, until I decided that it was time for me to do something new. This is what set in motion a series of events leading up to the setting of the deadline for my memoir’s publication. Three days and many more thoughts later, I was released with a clean bill after all test results came out negative, no heart tissue damage, blood pressure hereditarily high, but controlled with medication and a better diet.

I’m at the dawn of my golden anniversary on earth. My health should be my primary concern from now on. My time with my loved ones is so important to me, and that’s why my approach to making the gold is taking a new turn. My vision is vast, and this last speed bump was a reminder to just pace myself. It’s all about to come to together. Thanks for participating in the vision, my readers. Every look counts.

New Look, New Book!!!

Just a quick update. A few changes are underway as you can tell from the housekeeping on the site, but it is a work in progress.

I am officially announcing the release of my first book “Rebelation: A Memoir with Photos” in March of 2018. It is a look at my life in back in 1992. Living in Los Angeles, it was my first year as a hip-hop journalist. It is a familiar tale about a young man coming of age, but in the unfamiliar context after the most violent civil disturbance in United States history. A series of events and alliances with people near and far help me forge a new perspective on life, black unity and personal responsibility. Now I’m ready to share my story with the world.

Come back soon and I’ll throw some pages up. In the meantime, I am just trying to figure out all the links and and click stats that are going to lead to this automatic money I’m gonna get once I figure out web commerce. Yippee ki-o!!!

Falling 

I feel bad for not posting more frequently, but as I stated in Relativity, real life takes up real time, so my blogging falls by the wayside. Notice I said blogging and not writing. I’ve been writing in my journal my butt off between kids and gigs. My poetry has hit some high notes as of late. It’s never enough:  thinking about a new paper to publish comparing contemporary rap to 15th century poetry, planning an art exhibition, figuring out the magic tricks of Lightroom, and finishing unfinished blog posts…

I guess I shouldn’t feel bad. I’m doing all this to make my stuff spectacular and moving. The journey is the hard work towards beautiful results. The living in the moment makes the journey interesting. Now that a new season is here, I’m taking a moment to celebrate the art of the blog and two years and twenty days of keeping one. Keep following. Happy autumnal equinox, my friends…

R.I.P., B.I.G.

20 years ago today we lost one of the most prolific rappers in the history of the genre, Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls. Three years prior to his untimely demise, I was one of the first journalists to interview him. It went down the night before his debut album Ready To Die hit the charts, hours before his debut performance at Glam Slam West, Prince’s downtown L.A. hotspot in the 90’s.

I’m posting this article in honor and tribute to this fallen soldier. I can easily say that Biggie was the most humble rapper I’ve ever interviewed. After we finished our formal interview session and the recorders were off, Biggie said to me, “I hope people like my album.” I looked him straight in the eye and said “dude, people love you!” “Ain’t no guarantees in life,” he shot back, “if this shit don’t jump off, I’ll be back on the streets hustling tomorrow.”

I think you will see a side of Biggie in this interview that most people didn’t see during his short tenure as the king of rap. That’s the reason why I put up a picture of the brother smiling. He had reason to be mad muggin’ all the time, but he also had reasons to smile.

Wait until you read the article. I’m sharing this remnant of the past, before the Internet forced me to go back and get my hustle on the streets. I hope you enjoy, comment and share. Blessings to you all…

Click below to open the PDF:

biggie09032017

P.S. I know I’ve been off the radar for a while (I was supposed to go to Europe, but the funding didn’t come through), but I’m working on a new project that I pray will be in time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots on April 29th. Details coming soon!!!