Even many die-hard Tupac Shakur fans do not know that before the legendary artist’s passing he created a group for himself, childhood friend Yaki Kadafi, and a then 13-year-old ‘Pac christened Candyman 187. The trio was collectively known as The Havenotz.

“If you know about Thug Life, it stood for ‘The Hate You Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody,’ and we were supposed to be the infants, we were supposed to be the lost generation,” explained the now 27-year-old Candyman of The Havenotz to HipHopDX on Wednesday (July 27th). “It was like, when they talk about society the best way to judge our society is by its children. And, I was the child. So it was like, Look at these children, and look at what you’ve put them through, and look at how they’re being raised.”

Candyman 187 Explains Meeting Tupac Shakur As A Youth

Candyman was raised in Los Angeles, California but made frequent trips to visit family on the east coast. And because of a familial connection, he first met Tupac as a troublesome 10 year-old.
“[I was] just doing a lot of stupid things,” he recalled of the juvenile hell he was raising circa 1993, “and we all shared a lot of the same family members and people just kinda brought us together over time. And Tupac knew I had came from a pretty crazy background, and my life was pretty hectic. And he saw I guess – I’m speaking from what the elders have told me, is that he felt that he saw a lot of him in me, and that kinda drew him to me.”  

The ‘Pac influence is clearly evident in Candyman’s recent video, “Show Em All.”

“He was a big brother, a father figure, a mentor and a teacher,” said Candyman of Tupac’s role in his life during his wonder years. “If it wasn’t for him and Kadafi, I wouldn’t be here. And I’ll always appreciate them and love them for that, but I feel like at this point in my life everything I’m doing, every step I take, every move I make, everything I do is in their memory but at the same time you won’t hear a lot of songs where I’m like, ‘This is dedicated to Tupac.’ Or, ‘This is dedicated to Kadafi.’ ‘Cause, I feel like my whole life is dedicated to them. Everything I do is representing them. And the best way I can show them love and respect is by growing up and being successful.”

While an unofficial Havenotz EP was compiled and released by fans in 2009 from loose tracks Candyman recorded in recent years and let leak to the ‘Net, 187 is hesitant to let loose of the original Havenotz music that was recorded in the mid-‘90s.

“It’ll come out eventually,” he explained, “but like I said, my biggest thing is I don’t want my career and my name to be based on it. … I wanna be remembered as Candyman, not ‘Tupac’s Candyman.’ For me I feel like every teacher wants the student to surpass them, or at least meet ‘em at the level they expected from them. And I don’t think I can do that by being in his shadow, or releasing the music we did, or putting him on every song I do.”

“On the Internet a lotta cats will be like, ‘Oh, he’s ridin’ off of ‘Pac’s name,’” he added.  “And people that know me know that’s [as] far from the truth as it could be. I’m big into books and philosophy, and [in] The 48 Laws of Power one of the things it says is you don’t ever wanna be in somebody so great’s shadow that you can’t get out of it. And that was my thing, I never wanted to be Tupac’s robot. ‘Cause I don’t think that’s what Tupac expected of me. He expected all of us to go out there and be our own men. That’s why he treated us [like men] and taught us the things that he did over time was so we could go out there and make a living for ourselves.”      

While Candyman promises the original Havenotz music will eventually see the light of day, and that a new lineup of The Havenotz will soon release music, his first priority is his first official solo project in the more than 15 years since his early recordings with Tupac.

“My life kinda took a spiral after a few things, and I had to get my head right,” he explained to DX of the delay in getting his first formal product ready for release, his daring double-disc debut, If Tomorrow Never Comes: Chasing The Pain (due online and in stores this fall.)

“I was talking to basically a person that’s like my mother, Yaasmyn Fula,” he explained of the origins of his album title. “That was Kadafi’s mom. I was talking to her and she was like, ‘One of my favorite quotes was always James Dean’s ‘live as if you will die today, and dream as if you will live forever.’ … And she was like, ‘You know you always live your life – all you boys, all my sons always lived your life like tomorrow was never coming.’ And I was like, ‘Well, coming from where we came from, and going through the things we did, tomorrow was never promised to us.”

Candyman 187 Explains How Snoop Dogg Helped Him After Years Apart

A self-admitted “gamble” for a first album, Candyman’s 24-song platter will be a safer bet for consumers to put their money on thanks to appearances from established names like Jim Jones, E-40, Yo-Yo, Digital Underground, and legendary funksters George Clinton and Bootsy Collins. The album’s lead single, the Electro-driven “High Off The Fame,” features a surprisingly high-profile cameo from Snoop Dogg.

“From back in the day, with my relationship with Tupac, [I] already had a relationship with Snoop [Dogg],” explained Candyman of how he collared the doggfather for his first official single produced by longtime Snoop sound provider Meech Wells. “So, it seemed like it was the only right way to go for the first single. And being an artist from California, and from Los Angeles, I wanted to rep the west coast without hatin’ on any other side of the world.”

“It surprised me, to be honest with you,” he added of Snoop’s appearance, “’cause I hadn’t talked to him or seen him in years. And to see him be as humble as he was, and as cool about it as he was, was really cool. And after me and him really had a good sit-down talk he was like, ‘I really feel like you’re doing a lot for the west coast … and I wanna show you love and support you however I can.’”
Another artist that grew from the N.W.A. family tree has shown his love and support to Candyman 187: one of the original members of N.W.A.’s posse who a few years later would top the charts with his smooth smash “Knockin’ Boots,” a hit ironically produced by Johnny J, the now deceased former lead producer for Tupac.  

“I do,” replied 187 when asked if he gets mistaken for the original Candyman. “That’s part of the reason why ‘Pac put the 187 in the name when he gave it to me. … I do get confused for him. And much love and respect to him. That dude put it down before I ever could, so I always gotta give it up to people that were here before me. … I ran into him at a show I did with Digital Underground and we talked about it and it was all cool.”


Follow Candyman 187 on Twitter (@Candyman187) and Facebook.