It has been an astounding week for the legacy of an amazing artist, Tupac Shakur.
The day before a star-studded celebration of the legendary rapper/actor/activist’s life and legacy took place at the Atlanta Symphony Hall to coincide with ‘Pac’s birthday on Thursday, June 16th, AllHipHop.com published a shocking statement from a man named Dexter Isaac claiming responsibility for the November 30, 1994 robbery of Tupac as he entered the lobby of the Quad Recording Studios in New York City.
While Mr. Isaac stopped short of taking ownership of his role in the attempt on ‘Pac’s life during the robbery that reportedly led to ‘Pac being shot five times (twice in the head), he did confirm that long-suspected mastermind of the attack, music industry insider, and currently on-the-lam indicted drug kingpin, James Rosemond, a/k/a Jimmy Henchman, paid him $2,500 (plus all the jewelry he seized in the robbery) to carry out the nearly fatal incident that planted the first seeds of the infamous east vs. west friction.
On the day after what would have been Tupac’s 40th b-day, at the end of one of the most hectic weeks of their lives, Hussein Fatal and Young Noble of the Outlawz took time out to speak with HipHopDX about where they think their big homie would have been in his life and career if he had lived to be a middle-aged man. Now thirtysomethings themselves, two of the men who knew Tupac best also addressed the aforementioned revelations by Dexter Isaac, and if they have anything to say at this time to implicated conspirator in the Quad shooting, Sean “Diddy” Combs. Additionally, Noble and Fatal shared their thoughts with DX on Rick Ross’ recent declaration that he is bringing “Tupac Back” . And maybe most notably, the ‘Lawz revealed for the first time to the public ‘Pac’s plans for an “underground compound.”
The Outlawz React To The New Details In The 1994 Shooting Of Tupac Shakur
HipHopDX: Let’s just get right to it. Did ‘Pac ever mention the name “Dexter” to y’all?
Noble: [Short pause] No. ‘Pac never mentioned it to me.
Fatal: I mean, I never heard of it.
DX: Dexter Isaac is a new name to a lot of folks, but he was previously implicated in the Quad shooting in Ethan Brown’s book, Snitch, [on page 75], along with a Spencer “Scooter” Bowens. A few years later, Dexter executed a murder-for-hire plot, which is what landed him life in prison. So given this guy’s lack of a moral compass, are you skeptical at all about his claim that he can provide some closure to Afeni [Shakur] and Voletta Wallace? [Basically], that he likely was involved in the Quad attack, but he don’t know shit about Orlando Anderson and [what happened in Las] Vegas?
Noble: I mean personally, I think being the fact that he just got a – basically [Jimmy Henchman] just tried to put a snitch jacket on him, so he basically saying, This is my reason for coming out saying this and that. Honestly, my gut feeling, I don’t think he lying at all.
‘Pac pretty much put it out there to the world [on “Against All Odds”], what happened. So dude saying ol’ boy had something to do with setting it up, ‘Pac already put that out to the world. So I guess people was – they ain’t know whether to believe it or not to believe it. But, me personally, nah, I don’t think he just coming out just to say it. I mean, what can he possibly gain from it? He ain’t ‘bout to get out of jail.
Fatal: I know I been playing around on the east coast for a long time, during the whole … when the Outlawz was doing the Death Row [Records] thing. Like, I was on the east coast, and I came across a lot of people. And I know my man is telling the truth. He know what he talking about.
DX: I’m just buggin’ out a little bit on the ego: how he believes he’s doing ‘Pac’s loved ones some service for finally coming clean about attempting to take ‘Pac’s life at that studio that night. He conveniently forgot to apologize for the whole trying to kill ‘Pac thing.
Noble: Yeah. Well, you know, niggas be on what they be on. I mean, dude is a hired gun, so his conscience and his heart is different from the average person’s. He dealing in the jungle on some “murder-murder” shit. So to him, it was probably just business.
Honestly, he probably was a fan of ‘Pac. Real niggas – if you been through any kind of anything, you gotta be a fan of ‘Pac. ‘Cause he was the ambassador, as far as Rap music is concerned, which is the universal language of the world. So, trust me, dude was a fan of ‘Pac. And after all these years going by, it probably was weighing on a nigga conscious like, Guess what, man? That was a great dude. And he ain’t here no more. And guess what? Y’all wanna put a snitch jacket on me, I’ma tell what I been holding on my own all these years. Fuck it. Niggas wanna act like you ain’t have nothing to do with it, and niggas is angels …
Fatal: I mean, maybe he went to jail and found God or something ….
Fatal: We can’t judge him on that. Maybe he felt like he had to – You don’t know who he spoke to at night in his cell. Maybe he just felt like now was the time to tell the truth, and he’s just telling the truth. What about that?
Noble: Yeah. He basically said it: why he was coming out and saying it now. ‘Cause basically dude tried to put the snitch jacket on him - on some other shit, on some whatever they friendship and whatever they had they was dealing with. So dude like, Oh, you wanna put a snitch jacket on me? After all these years I been keeping this secret that you paid me this money to do this to ‘Pac … To me, a nigga being from the streets and knowing the game and how shit plays, it ain’t no honor amongst these dudes. So dude is like, Damn! After all these years you doing all these interviews and getting all this money with these different artists, and even west coast artists. And then the ‘Pac shit still coming up fifteen years later and you denying it to the fullest, and you was actually the dude who made it happen. I’m the dude who you paid to do it. … It makes perfect sense.
And don’t get it confused, it ain’t like he wrote that letter the day before ‘Pac birthday. That’s just I guess when [AllHipHop.com] decided to post the muthafucka.
DX: Now, in his statement, in addition to obviously implicating Jimmy Henchman as the genesis of the Quad attack, he also hinted at Puffy’s involvement. You guys have any words for Diddy at this point?
Noble: Not at all. I feel like everything that happens in the dark gon’ come to light.
Fatal: Basically, ‘Pac already summed that shit up, man. All y’all gotta do is play the music. ‘Pac already doing this interview with that “Against All Odds.” He already told everybody what happened.
Noble: I just think more information gonna come out, later down the line. God got a way of working that kind of shit out. So nah, we don’t have no words for Puff.
DX: You mentioned that Dexter Isaac’s statement was obviously released to capitalize off of the media spotlight on what would have been ‘Pac’s 40th birthday this year. This may not be fair to speculate on, but where do you guys think ‘Pac would have been in his life and career at 40?
Fatal: I think he’d a been on … something political woulda been with him. He definitely woulda been a movie star. [But], you never can tell; the sky was the limit for that guy.
Noble: Yeah, I think ‘Pac woulda had the #1 record label in the world. I think ‘Pac woulda had probably the #1 black-owned film company in the world. He was working on doing different scripts and movies. He was gonna get into that realm of him producing his own movies. I definitely think he’d a been heavy into … just things for the community, for black people. He was the ambassador of the hopeless, of the strugglers. So he definitely, like Fatal said … ain’t no telling, man. At 40, he [likely] to been in the running for something: some kind of something to be in a higher position to help his people. … He was already super ahead of his time at 25-years-old, so at 40-years-old he woulda just been like … he’d a been the man. He’d a definitely been the man, period.
DX: I say it’s unfair to speculate on where he woulda been in his life at 40 ‘cause I don’t think he thought about it. ‘Pac spit a lot of fatalistic rhymes regarding his own demise, but in private did he ever talk about aging: about living long enough to marry, raise kids, etc?
Noble: I know ‘Pac, he definitely wanted kids. But at the same time, he used to talk about death as well. He used to talk about like, “When I die, what’ch y’all niggas gonna do?” And we’d be like, “Man, we don’t wanna hear that shit! Nigga, if you dying, nigga we gonna be dying too. ‘Cause we gonna be right there.”
As far as speculating where he would be, I agree, it’s damn-near like you don’t even wanna speak on that ‘cause it won’t be doing him no justice. He was so far ahead of his time when he was alive that it’s … you can’t even imagine. I remember he was like, “Yo, you know what we gonna do? We ain’t gonna touch none of the publishing money that come. Y’all drop the Outlaw album, we gonna be getting all this muthafuckin’ money, all these big publishing checks, [but] I don’t want y’all to touch none of that money. We just gon’ save the shit and build an underground compound, so if anything happen in the world all of our family, extended family could be living underground.” I’m 17 at this time, so I’m looking at this dude like, “How the fuck are you even thinking about some shit like that?”
Fatal: He used to say shit like, “Yo, we could get our arms, we could just defend our own. We got our own compound, can’t nobody come on it. Long as we don’t come [up short on] food …” And he was damn serious about it.
Noble: Dead fuckin’ serious, man. This dude wanted us to save all of our muthafuckin’ publishing money to build an underground compound for all our families and extended families so if all the crazy shit that happen in the world [takes place] we could be underground living, and [then] come up [when it’s safe]. We might be the last muthafuckas on the earth or something. He was thinking like that, at 25-years-old.
The Outlawz React To Rick Ross And Meek Mill's "Tupac Back"
DX: I gotta switch gears to something a little less heavy … “They yellin’ Tupac back /But nah he ain’t back / The homie never left and that’s a well-known fact.” I saw that Ross was at the 40th b-day celebration for ‘Pac, but did y’all record that “G-Mix” version of “Tupac Back” because of initial offense taken to Ross’ claims of bringing back ‘Pac’s steez on that hook?
Noble: Not at all. [Rick] Ross is getting money already, so for him to do a song called “Tupac Back” you wouldn’t be like, Oh, he doing this to get some money. The kid is already getting hella muthafuckin’ money, making hella hits …. When he first dropped the song I reached out to him and Meek [Mill] like, “Salute. Whenever y’all ready for the remix, holla at ya boys. It’s only right.” And I know the streets been at them as well. Since they dropped it, the streets been at us like, “Yo, y’all shoulda been on it. When y’all gonna do it?” So it was really – we did that ‘cause the streets asked for it.
But, nah, we didn’t take no offense to it at all. We love when muthafuckas salute the homie. Especially if the shit gonna be getting played on the radio every god-damn day. I love it.
And [EDI’s verse you quoted is] not no dart or nothing like that. That’s just the truth. And [with] them saying “Tupac back,” I’m sure they didn’t mean it like he never left. But [EDI just stated] it as what it is: that he ain’t never left. ‘Pac, he gon’ be here forever. And he gon’ remain the #1 Rap artist ever. … You not gonna be able to duplicate [what he did]. I don’t give a fuck if a muthafucka come out tomorrow and sell a trillion records, ‘Pac still gon’ be #1. It don’t make a difference, ‘cause he represented something that most of these dudes really don’t get. He represented that voice, that voice that we need. Like, niggas ain’t ballin’ out here. The majority of muthafuckas I know is struggling, and going through some real shit in they fuckin’ life and trying to overcome all the bad shit …. ‘Pac was that voice of Rap. Through the whole history of Rap, he was the epitome of that voice to represent the people. Basically, representing the majority of the people. The majority of the people I know is struggling, and trying to make it happen, and they searching for better days.
The Outlawz Consider Retirement After Perfect Timing
DX: Wanna wrap things up by talking about Perfect Timing. Did y’all come up with that title [for the upcoming Outlawz album] before or after y’all realized the 15th anniversary of ‘Pac’s passing falls on a Tuesday this year?
Noble: We came up with the title first. The album was supposed to come out actually before [September 13th]. But when we figured out we was gonna drop it around that time, and then that date just so happened to be that date, it was perfect timing. Really, it’s just perfect timing for some real soldiers, with a real history, with a real message, to bring some real music back to this game. And I feel like we the epitome of that. We done been on over 60 million records [sold], never been on a major label, we done lost ‘Pac, two, three months later Khadafi got killed, different members in and out the group, but ‘til this point now, 15 years later, you got me, EDI and Fatal standing strong, making the best Outlaw music that we ever made in our lives. It’s just perfect timing; it’s God’s time.
DX: “100 MPH” featuring Bun B and Lloyd should be all over the radio right now in my opinion. So even though these aren’t the circumstances y’all really wanna be promoting through, maybe this really will prove to be the perfect time for the Outlawz to shine.
Noble: Man, we just trying to push for the muthafuckas who been pushing for us all these years. Like you saying “100 MPH,” you think it should be on the radio everyday. I don’t think that; I know that it should be on the radio. You could play it next to any song that’s out and it’s right there with it – not even right there with it, probably better. But, we don’t got the big budgets to give these radio muthafuckas $40,000 to play our fuckin’ record. It’s like, Man, play the record ‘cause it’s hot. That’s how the deejays used to do it. They used to play shit when it was hot, not just ‘cause a muthafucka paid the radio promoter 80-god-damn-thousand dollars or whatever the case may be. So, we been fighting with that kind of shit for a long time.
DX: Well even if “100 MPH” don’t get that crazy radio rotation, you got “Tupac Back” out there, and 50 Cent’s new single is called “Outlaw” , so something is in the air for y’all right about now.
Noble: No doubt about it. It’s perfect timing, man!
Noble: And I’ma be honest wit’chu, I got on Twitter [@TheOutlawz] last night and my shit was going crazy, all these people was saying that. Like, “Yo, the shit [called] ‘Outlaw,’ he dropped it on ‘Pac birthday, c’mon, the ‘Lawz supposed to be on there.”
God is just working in our favor. He keeping us blessed and humble and focused, and he throwing all this good stuff our way. And we gon’ do the best of our ability to get ourselves out there as much as possible, so this music can reach as many people as possible. ‘Cause you got some muthafuckas who think [because] we ain’t on the radio and ain’t on TV every day we ain’t doing shit. We been dropping albums, mixtapes, we tour the whole fuckin’ world …. We been pushing this line for a minute, and I think we one of them groups who – I don't know, we might not get the credit until we actually say we done. Like, we was actually thinking about making this our last album, just so when muthafuckas pick it up [they would] be like, "Damn." So muthafuckas had to root for us to come back ….
We was really planning on making this our last album. ‘Pac been gone 15 years, and the game, it ain’t the same. It’s like muthafuckas don’t appreciate real shit no more. That’s what it feel like to me. It’s like, man, we could spit the realest shit in the world and it’s like you muthafuckas ain’t even listening.
Noble: Let me tell you about the [Perfect Timing] album. The shit crazy from beginning to end. We got Scarface on there. We got young Lloyd the singing sensation on two songs. Of course, Bun B on the album. We got Krayzie Bone on it. We got Tech N9ne on it. Young Buck, Trae Tha Truth, Z-Ro, a big artist from Toronto named Belly. The album is crazy. It’s hands down – after ‘Pac passed away, just Outlaw music – this is our best album we ever created, definitely.
DX: Damn, that’s saying something. I thought that Killuminati 2K10 joint, [with songs like “Sometimes” ], was really, really impressive, so if y’all top that, that’s saying something.
Noble: That [mixtape] was better than most niggas albums that dropped last year. But the 2K11 is about to drop A.S.A.P., hosted by Kay Slay and DJ Smallz. And that’s killing 2K10. That’s coming out probably [in] the next two weeks. So we gon’ keep hitting y’all.