One of the few witnesses to Tupac Shakur’s struggle to survive for several days following the drive-by shooting that would eventually claim the now iconic actor/rapper’s life at the young age of 25 is contradicting a long-maintained claim by the former head of Death Row Records, Marion “Suge” Knight, that the then Row CEO was also struck by a bullet in that attack, which is somehow still lodged in his head.
In the trailer to 7 Dayz, the forthcoming documentary from onetime Tupac videographer, Gobi M. Rahimi, the man ‘Pac agreed to let film what would be the final months of his life recalls in the immediate aftermath of that September 7, 1996 shooting, says he witnessed a nurse at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada inform Suge Knight’s mother that her son “is fine,” as he was just cut by either flying glass or a piece of shrapnel and would require only stitches for his injuries.
“A little quick ultrasound would show whether he’s got a bullet or not in his skull,” Gobi told HipHopDX on Monday (February 11th) in response to Knight’s more dubious recollection of that event. “I just remember what I heard. So, unless they went in afterwards and they found a bullet … I’m just repeating what I heard her say.”
Some have theorized that Knight lied in interviews following the shooting regarding the extent of the injuries he sustained during the attack on Tupac to cover up his involvement in the murder of Death Row’s then marquee artist.
Speaking to HipHopDX via phone while spending time with family in the South of France, the director of some of Tupac’s final music videos (“2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” “Made Niggaz”) documented in detail the trauma-filled nights he spent alongside Gobi’s then girlfriend/production partner Tracy Robinson, ‘Pac’s aunt and assistant Yaasmyn Fula, mother Afeni Shakur, longtime friend Molly Monjauze and proteges The Outlawz as the small but dedicated collective held vigil over the mortally wounded star in the waiting room of UMC’s emergency room.
“I was there for six of the seven nights, from 12 to 8 in the morning,” recalled Gobi. “Me and Noble [of the Outlawz] did the graveyard shift pretty much every night.”
Tupac’s videographer and one of his teenage pupils found themselves in the ill-equipped position of having to help guard, unarmed, their beloved leader due to death threats coming in to Death Row Records warning that the perpetrators of the shooting were planning to come to the hospital to “finish him off,” combined with the apparent ineptitude on the part of Death Row’s security arm, WrightWay.
“Frank Alexander… Couldn’t find him for a few days,” revealed Gobi. “Getting Kevin Hackie out there was difficult. He got stopped by Vegas P.D.”
“After the first day they had a guy sitting outside [Tupac’s] door,” he added. “But, you know, being from [Suge’s] team – I guess he didn’t trust anyone. So, Yaasmyn Fula, Black Panther, the way she kinda was in the whole situation is that she wanted to make sure he was secure with people she trusted. And I think on the fifth or sixth night, the Fruit of Islam finally showed up and that’s kind of when I left. It was a day and a dollar too late. But, thankfully they got there. And it was almost like they were people she trusted. So, it seemed like it was finally secure, after five or six days of not knowing who we could trust.”
The paramilitary arm of the Nation of Islam previously provided security to Tupac in 1994 following his shooting at the Quad Recording Studios in New York City.
Prior to the F.O.I.’s arrival, Gobi personally phoned the Las Vegas Metro Police Department to attend to the threats still being made on Tupac as he lie unconscious in the hospital, but was met with surprising indifference towards protecting the life of one of the most popular recording artists in the world.
“I think the third or fourth night is when the marketing guy [from Death Row] came up to me and was like, ‘They just called, the guys who shot him, they’re loading their guns, they’re gonna come and finish him off,’” recounted Gobi. “And I called Vegas P.D. I’m like, ‘Yo, they’re about to come take him out.’ And they were like, ‘Well, sir, there’s a foot patrolman in the hospital, if something should go down you can just get a hold of him.’”
The only hospital security seen by the man Tupac fondly dubbed “The Crazy Iranian” was one older Caucasian gentleman stationed in the corner of the ER waiting room.
“And when he heard me get off of that call,” remembered Gobi, “he was like, ‘I gotta tell you, that’s crazy. Last year, there was a rodeo star that broke his leg and they gave him four Winnebago’s for his family and he had like five or six policemen around the clock to guard him.’”
Luckily for the defenseless Gobi, the threats made against Tupac while he lay fighting for his life were never actually acted on. Unfortunately, the bullet lodged in ‘Pac’s right chest cavity was tragically taking care of the rapper for his then unidentified attackers, causing him to hemorrhage blood and forcing doctors to put him into a medically induced coma to take pressure off of his ravaged body.
Unlike onetime Tupac love interest and fellow artist Yo-Yo, who has previously claimed that she witnessed ‘Pac regain consciousness at one point after being stabilized by life support machines, Gobi revealed to DX that he never personally saw Tupac open his eyes.
“I only saw him on the fifth night, ‘cause I, for whatever reason, didn’t go in to see him,” he explained. “And then the nurse finally on the fifth night she was like, ‘Listen, you’ve been here all these nights, do you wanna go see him?’ And, he was out. He was cold. He was out.”
Gobi also did not personally see the valiant struggle Tupac waged against his own body to survive.
“I never witnessed it; the nurse came out and told me,” he explained. “She came out and she was like, ‘That ‘Pac of yours is a fighter, man. We almost lost him. We just got him back. I just gave him 500 cc’s of adrenaline.’”
“I personally didn’t think he would make it after hearing that he’d been shot,” continued Gobi, “only because twice through the same thing just seemed incomprehensible to me, for anyone to survive that. But, having said that, after three, four, five, six days, I was like, ‘Wow, maybe he is gonna survive.’ So I was shocked when I found out he passed.”
Gobi Recalls Tupac Having A Hard Time Getting Money From Death Row
Gobi initially arrived in Las Vegas to celebrate Tracy Robinson’s September 7th birthday with Tupac, their partner in the then newly formed 24-7 Productions, and was waiting for ‘Pac to arrive for a post-fight performance at Suge Knight’s club, 662, when he got news of the shooting.
But while no footage was filmed by Gobi of Tupac while he was in Vegas, the current head of Static Free Films is in possession of plenty of film, photos and memories of the months leading up to ‘Pac’s passing, including recollections of the long-rumored battles the star waged with his notorious recording home.
“It seemed like [Tupac] always had a tough time getting his money,” recalled Gobi, “on a weekly basis. So, whether it was him or Yaasmyn Fula making the calls, there always seemed to be a struggle getting the loot. … A few times I heard Yaasmyn, a few times I heard him, just asking for his money.”
“They weren’t happy,” replied Gobi when asked if the calls he overheard were confrontational. “I think once even one of his Gridlock’d checks got sent to [the label], or Death Row was asking for his acting checks to be sent to [them]. So he was a little [upset] about that as well.”
Battles between Death Row and Tupac over ‘Pac’s acting proceeds were likely taking place due to the fact that the star of stage and screen’s income from films was far exceeding any amount of money he had received from his recording home. According to Gobi, 24-7 Productions was working to secure a three-picture deal for the budding actor a week before ‘Pac passed.
“Paramount and New Line at that point were both interested in doing a deal with him,” revealed Gobi. “And he had specific films that he wanted to do.”
One of the co-stars of the classic hood-film Menace II Society, MC Eiht, recently revealed to HipHopDX that New Line Cinema only green-lit the directorial debut of the Hughes brothers with the guarantee that the star of Juice and Poetic Justice would appear in their movie. According to Gobi, the studio that distributed Menace II Society still eagerly sought to work with Tupac even after he was, according to Eiht, essentially setup to fail by the Hughes brothers at portraying a gangbanger-turned-Muslim and subsequently fired from the film.
“He was bondable after Gridlock’d, so it was like everyone was coming after him,” revealed Gobi of the reasoning for the studios’ renewed interest in the often troublesome talent. “‘Pac was supposed to be in Higher Learning as well, but I think he had an issue with [John] Singleton at one point and he got dropped from that. But, ‘Pac was one of the hottest commodities at that point. There wasn’t anyone else that could fill those shoes.”
Gobi Explains Current Standing With Tupac’s Estate
Around the time Tupac was ascending into the actor stratosphere, he was also expanding his musical ambitions by attempting to repair his fractured relationship with East Coast Hip Hop fans by working with an all-star assemblage of New York emcees for an audacious project he billed simply One Nation. And following him every step of the way in that reconciliatory process, cameras in tow, was Gobi.
And with so much valuable footage from the final months in the life of one of the most revered rappers of all time, thankfully for Gobi he doesn’t anticipate any encroachment on his intellectual property by the gatekeepers of Tupac’s legacy.
“Thus far I’ve had a decent relationship with the family and the estate, and hopefully it will remain that way,” he carefully replied when asked about any cease-and-desist concerns he might have.
As for funding concerns, Gobi assured DX that he will utilize private financing to see to it that the documentary is still released if the current Kickstarter campaign for the film doesn’t meet its financing goal. He encourages Tupac supporters to still check out the campaign that is offering exclusive goodies, including never-before-released photos and video clips, in exchange for contributions to the film.
One of the initial respondents to Gobi’s Kickstarter post was none other than the legendary Chuck D. One of Tupac’s personal Hip Hop heroes has since agreed to narrate the documentary. Recently, the Public Enemy front-man took to Twitter to discuss the praise-filled letter sent to him by Tupac (but unfortunately failing to reach Chuck at the time) while the Westside rider was incarcerated in Dannemora, New York on sexual abuse charges.
The most powerful baritone to ever breathe into a microphone will be heard guiding viewers through the “living documentary” Gobi initially set out to make on Tupac way back in 1996.
“I guess I wasn’t ready to delve into the world of ‘Pac,” replied Gobi when asked about the long delay of the doc. “It’s a sensitive area. And, I guess I just wanted to wait until the right time, and it just seemed like now is the right time to tell that story.
“I think it’s the one area that has not been covered adequately on a human level,” he added about Tupac’s final months, “not a sensationalist level. I wanna share more about who he really was above and beyond the artist, and hopefully show aspects of him that have not been exposed completely or enough in other docs. I just think there was a lot more to him …. I think there are enough stories that have not been told that could conceivably be told in this doc. And I think it’s worth a shot.”
But following in the footsteps of Frank Alexander by releasing a book (Gobi’s 2005 ‘Pac photo journal, Thru My Eyes) and now a film will undoubtedly raise the eyebrows of those who might view the motives of another Tupac associate as less than genuine.
“My intentions as far as I’m concerned are honorable with this,” Gobi declared to any detractors. “I just wanna, again, try to share some stories that have not been shared.”
“People say feeding off of the dead,” he added in response to the “vulture” label that has been assigned to many of the ‘Pac profiteers of recent years. “They say history is written by great people’s contemporaries. I just happened to be there. And, if I can share stuff with you and with fans, or have other people share stuff who [actually knew Tupac], then we have a hand in adding to the legacy. Why is that a bad thing? He would have wanted that. He absolutely would have wanted that. He left me with a treasure chest of stuff and I guarantee you he would be mad at me if I didn’t tell whatever stories that I had. That’s what I was battling with for so long [that delayed this.] I don’t think he would be mad at it, so I don’t see why anyone else would be mad.”
7 Dayz is tentatively slated for release on what would have been Tupac’s 42nd birthday, June 16, 2013.