Gobi Rahimi’s “7Dayz” trailer hit the web last Wednesday, engulfing us in interest around the legendary and deceased emcee. Tupac’s legacy has been up to now a wide chasm full of both his defiance in the face of his challenges and anger, sorrow, and triumph. Asking many who knew him will yield wildly differing stories as to who he was, and rightfully so. No human should be asked to live the monotony of a consistent life, unless, of course, that is what you’re into. Tupac was into no such thing, but his multiple awakenings were not without due course.
That’s where Gobi Rahimi comes in. His trailer is not only filled with what seems like a genuine love for the man known as Tupac Amaru Shakur, but a reverence for his legacy as well. Anyone who’s worked on anything creative in a commercial capacity will know that this is a rare tidbit, but it is the stuff of often-great work. And when we say reverence we mean just that. He would call ‘Pac an “unactualized prophet” many times in the interview, and he means it.
Mr. Rahimi was with ‘Pac the last months of his life. They worked together first as a producer on his Death Row Records videos, and then as director, and then as friends. In fact, it was Gobi who wrote the letter that would change ‘Pac’s life, a letter intended to remove him from his ties to Death Row and allow Tupac to start off in another direction entirely. In Rahimi’s words — quoting Tupac — he said, “You know what, in six months no one is going to recognize me because I am going to be done with all the bullshit.” If only he’d have had that six months.
Gobi Rahimi Describes Tupac As An “Un-actualized Prophet”
DX: This is a super interesting story, man.
Gobi Rahimi: This is a long time coming. It’s interesting, for the last six or seven years I’ve been doing a lot of production for what they call branded content online and there’s a term I really like using for this project, the idea is this is going to be “disruptive media.” My rationality behind it is one, is that all things 2pac that come from authenticity and integrity I see as disruptive because aside from the stereotypical portrayal as a thug or a gangster, there was their revolutionary roots that came before that and I just happened to be there. For the lack of a better term, I became one of his apostles because I drank the kool-aid the minute I met him and I love that guy. I knew there was something above and beyond the mere mortal. To me he was an un-actualized prophet.
I am Iranian by heritage. We are a very emotional culture and when we love someone we ride or die for them. I recognized Tupac’s uniqueness and importance early on and in my own head I saw him as my little brother and I was so looking forward to developing a more personal relationship with him so I could hopefully, in my own head, have some sort of influence on him because it was obvious that a lot of the people he was surrounding himself around were not good for his health.
DX: Can you talk about the time and the tension around that and when he wrote that letter and he signed it, what did you guys expect to happen?
Gobi Rahimi: We didn’t know what would happen, but I’ll just say I was in his life for the last seven months of his life. The entire time the tension was increasing exponentially and I think it was as a result of him wanting autonomy. Man, look, his three-album deal was done. I think anyone in the music industry would have done whatever they possibly could’ve to keep hold of him because he was worth his weight in gold. Business is business and it’s no different than BP ruining the entire eastern seaboard and they get a slap on the hand and a fine and that’s it. Business is business and Tupac was business. I think he was looked at as that.
DX: I’m just trying to just get the context. The time was 1996?
Gobi Rahimi: 1996 from right around January to February through September.
DX: You wrote the letter right around what time?
Gobi Rahimi: It was probably around two weeks before he went to Vegas.
DX: You wrote the letter and when did you meet up with Tupac for him to read it and sign it?
Gobi Rahimi: Actually, Yassmyn Fula, who was his manager, gave it to him. I don’t know if it was from Yassmyn, but he got it to him let him sign it and brought it back to me and since we had a production company I was the one who faxed it to Death Row.
DX: What was the name of the production company?
Gobi Rahimi: At that time we had a couple. You had one with me and my partner Tracy Robinson called 24/7 Productions but he also started Euthanasia Record label. The plan was to do what the Jay Z’s and the P. Diddy’s of the world have done 20 years later. He wanted to create his own empire and he wanted to be the master of his own universe.
DX: I’m sure that caused a ton of issues.
Gobi Rahimi: Look, I am not privy to all the conversations, but it was obvious that the tension was absolutely thick.
DX: And you were also waiting for him at the club the night he got shot?
Gobi Rahimi: I knew something was up with him going to Vegas because he didn’t really want to go. He didn’t want to go to Vegas. They tried to get him to Vegas the week before, he didn’t go and then I think the week he did go it was the week that Tyson wanted him there because Tyson was going to come out to a Tupac song, which he did. So Tupac went and I kind of felt like, in my own head something was about to go down. I got my production staff and we went out there to celebrate my partner’s birthday there. And she was reluctant to go out there because she didn’t like being around all the Death Row people.
We went to Club 662, Nate Dogg walked through after about an hour of being there, and walked up to us and said that ‘Pac and Suge had been shot. So we went straight to the hospital and it was all of Suge’s people, his mom, his dad, his security detail. The only people there for Tupac at that time were Kidada Jones and his cousin Jibala who was just crying their eyeballs out on the table and calling family members. We kind of showed up and it was a week of tension and death threats and FBI informants. There was an FBI informant that came into the mix, but I think the story of what happened during those seven days is a pure reflection of what’s going on in this country today. There’s the focus on militarized police, the drama between races and all the drama that’s going on. The Trayvon Martin’s to the Baltimore’s and all that’s going on right now he was talking about this back in ‘94, ‘95, ‘96.
DX: Absolutely, Tupac had the soul of a revolutionary. I say all the time that out of the two giants in Hip Hop that we lost, ‘Pac and BIG, ‘Pac is the one who won the zeitgeist, he won the spirit of the age. Absolutely.
Gobi Rahimi: 100%. What’s interesting is that during those seven months, it honestly felt like he was on hyper speed to transforming into a better person. He was always attaining to the 2.0 version of himself, and one of the last conversations I was in the room and heard him talk, he said, “You know what, in six months no one is going to recognize me because I am going to be done with all the bullshit. One day I may run for mayor in Los Angeles. Because it’s the politicians and the police force are the biggest gangs in the country.” There were far less reasons for him to be taken out than who he was. He had that prophet energy but it was not realized. Jesus died at 33. He was a Jewish dude with a couple of followers and nothing was written about him for 60 years. Tupac died at 25 with a plethora of writings, six movies and 35 million albums sold. I am not comparing him to Jesus but I just wanted to stay in the context of what kind exposure you have when you died.
The big travesty, the big loss in Tupac is that I think he had the ability to cross all races and genders. The effect he has on people is global. I get fan mail from my country, from Iran, from Europe. They feel like they own him. They tell me you shouldn’t being do this because this isn’t what Pac would want. I can’t say that I know what Tupac would want but what I do know since I got to breath the same air that he did I got a sense of his essence. I am a very small fragment in the Tupac story but since I was at that last supper, it’s my duty to share whatever truth I can share. I’m not trying to solve his murder, I’m not trying to cause beef with anyone, but aside from all the people who were involved in Tupac’s life his story and his struggle is much greater, it’s much more universal. By sharing those last days and that transpired during those last days, the powers that be, the Tupac fans and even the people who didn’t know him or know of him will be exposed to a divine essence that does not come that often.
Gobi Rahimi Describes The 7 Days He Stood Watch For ‘Pac
DX: So those seven days, you were in the hospital. Why did you stay?
Gobi Rahimi: I knew something was up in Vegas it just felt like Vegas wasn’t going to be a good trip but when I found it out he was shot… Look, in my own head he was little brother. In my culture and I am sure in all cultures, when your loved one gets hurt you’ll do anything for them. I honestly felt at that point that Tupac’s life was more valuable than mine and that’s why I should be there and do whatever I can to protect him. We didn’t have enough protection during those nights so I did the 12 to 8 in the morning shifts while maybe one of the Outlawz was outside keeping guard. I grew up a scrapper. I’m not a gunslinger and I wasn’t strapped but I figured if someone looks suspicious I can do something.
DX: The Outlawz were outside as well?
Gobi Rahimi: What’s crazy is that the Outlawz, the entire time they were there were being harassed by the police. They would be told to leave the front of the hospital and it was just a tense, tense moment in the area. The saving grace were the first five or six days was how his manager at the time, Yaasmyn Fula was kind of like the general, she’s an ex-Black Panther, Tupac was like her own son. Yafeu, her son died. He was the one who was shot six months later in the eye. She was like the general and we did our best to be soldiers to protect the house as much as we could.
DX: The last seven days?
Gobi Rahimi: He was in an induced coma. They tried to pull his plug; they tried to get out of that. From what I was told is that normally gun shot victims, when they come to, they are still the scenes of the crime. I would get reports from the nurse. She’d come out 2,3 in the morning, if I was the only person in the waiting room with an update on how we was doing. He was a fighter. He’d start to slip and they’d give him a shot of adrenaline and bring him right back.
You saw the Godfather scene when Michael Corleone walks up to Enzo, the baker at the hospital and he says, “Throw away the flower and put your collar up and put your hands in your pocket like you’re holding a gun,” so to me I was Enzo, the baker.
DX: What do you want the impact of this film to be?
Gobi Rahimi: The story line has a lot of tense, bold concepts. The simplest is how one man is able to transform another. The Gobi character is the one who transforms and Tupac is the one who does the transforming during the last week of his life. That’s the one thing. There’s a lot of racial injustice also comes to fruition in this whole situation. But, ideally I want people to be able to see how one of the most powerful figures, most important figures in music was treated during the last week of his life by the police, by his record label, by the general public. There are so many layers to it.
DX: When he got shot the media was largely critical.
Gobi Rahimi: 100%. I think, again, to reflect: We all have what I call this universal energy running through our veins: some would call it divinity, and some would call it magic. The difference between you and me, maybe, and Tupac was that Tupac knew and he used it. Unfortunately he hadn’t mastered how to use that spirit, he hadn’t mastered how to use his own existence so unfortunately that’s what took him out. But he also, in a way died for all the injustice, he died for all of this to come to the surface. Look at how many seats have filled the empty shoes that he’s left behind. Just in music.
DX: Kendrick Lamar’s new album is great example of that…
Gobi Rahimi: Kendrick Lamar to me is one of those on the same frequency and intensity and in that universal energy that we were talking about. There are so many that have ridden on his coattails that try to emulate him and can’t even win.
DX: Absolutely. There have been numerous copies.
Gobi Rahimi: The reason we are doing the Indiegogo campaign is because the true essence of Tupac I think was independence. And ideally, what we would rather do is we’d rather raise the financing that we need to make this film without having to answer to a studio. That’s why we are intending on partnering up with Strange music and Tech N9ne. They built a gigantic force in the music industry that the majors aren’t able to achieve with what they’ve achieved as far as merchandising, touring and the kind of money they’re generating. That’s all independence.
Tech N9ne is a great example of an artist that got to bring to fruition what Tupac was trying to do. He’s achieved autonomy and what we want to do a unity album and bring a who’s who in music. Trying to get Tupac music might be very problematic given the biopic, all the hands are in the pot as far as Tupac’s music is concerned. The idea we came up with was to do a unity album and bring a who’s who, and not just Hip Hop artists. Maybe go after Alanis Morissette who ‘Pac was friends with. Try and get Madonna or Trent Reznor or try and get some alternative artists involved in this project as well.
DX: Who have you spoken to from Strange. Have you spoken to Tech?
Gobi Rahimi: We’ve been talking with the date liner over there and Tech is very aware of this project. We haven’t signed any contracts, but they are aware that our intentions is for them to help with the project.
DX: When people go and donate to the Indiegogo, what do you want to tell them that they should expect from this film?
Gobi Rahimi: The truth of all that went down in the weeks leading up to and the last week of the life of Tupac.
DX: What was Suge’s reaction during what went down?
Gobi Rahimi: I couldn’t tell you once he got stitched up, but the first hour that we were in the hospital he was moved [away from us], and the next day he was moving about smoking a cigar. I am not a good gauge of Suge’s emotion, but anyone who can run over their friend in a pickup truck is not going to be shedding too many tears.
Gobi Rahimi Speaks On How Tupac Would Feel About Kendrick Lamar & Today’s Hip Hop
DX: This film is incredible because you were there….
Gobi Rahimi: This, also, is going to be the last film starring Tupac Shakur. Because I have archival footage of him that’s never been seen before and I can’t get someone to play Tupac. So the film has been written in a way, the script has been written around the footage. Trying to get someone to play Tupac, I can see how it is so problematic and I pray to God the biopic… I wish them all the luck in the world. I think that my upside is that I don’t have to deal with that issue. I have footage of him and I am going to let him speak for himself.
DX: One last question, if Tupac was here right now, what would he say about rap right now and Hip Hop right now?
Gobi Rahimi: I think Tupac would say rap music is completely merchandised. That’s just me speculating. I was on the periphery. I don’t think he would be a fan of rap music at all, at all! and I think that he would be calling out everyone who is making buck off music that doesn’t mean anything.
DX: He’d be calling out a lot people.
Gobi Rahimi: He’d be calling a lot of people out, but there are still emcees that are doing their thing that mean something like Brother Ali. If ’Pac had survived that would be one muthafucka he’d be fucking with. If I could get Brother Ali on this soundtrack.. I care about big names like the Jay Z’s and Nas’ and all that but I’d go after Brotha Ali before I go after names.
DX: You absolutely should go after Brother Ali.
Gobi Rahimi:Martin Luther King Jr.’s FBI papers came out in 1999 when they took him out. It’s there but unfortunately people don’t mobilize. [And], I would love it if I could sit around with what the magic solution is to get the fans involved so that they can be a part of this, but unfortunately contemporary audiences have been lied to and brow beaten so much that projects like this…
Even though in my heart I feel it’s authentic, it’s been a struggle to even put me in a position to tell my story. It’s tough to get them to sign off on the authenticity. I know once we have all the money and film is made they are going to be rushing to the box office. But getting them to commit at this point for me has been a struggle. I have to deal with social media and people telling me what Tupac wants me to do.
DX: What do you think Tupac would say to Kendrick if anything at all?
Gobi Rahimi: I think Kendrick would be one of the people that Pac would fuck with. Kendrick is another person I would love to have on the album because he works outside of the box. I think ‘Pac would definitely fuck with him.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.