Kevin Powell Releases A Recording of Tupac Discussing The Night He Was Shot in NYC (Audio)
Next year will mark the twentieth anniversary of Tupac Shakur’s death, a milestone that will reverberate throughout the Hip-Hop community as Heads reflect on the incredible influence the rapper, poet, actor, and activist had on the world around him. His murder remains one of the music industry’s biggest mysteries, and while some of the theories behind his death continue to gain momentum and followers, it appears as though a formal, police-led solving of the crime may never take place. However, the fans and loved ones he left behind continue to be gifted with his music, and those closest to him are able to keep his spirit alive through the telling of stories involving the icon. One such comrade is Kevin Powell, a longtime writer whose two interviews with ‘Pac for VIBE are considered to be the most definitive of the late rapper’s career. Also an activist and poet, Powell and Shakur’s chemistry was evident, and the two seemed to share an emotional and intellectual connection that allowed for some of the most poignant conversations between a writer and his subject ever to take place in music journalism.
Now, Powell is celebrating the release of his memoirs, The Education of Kevin Powell, which includes a considerable portion devoted to his relationship with Shakur. In fact, Chapter 25 is entitled “Tupac and Me,” an excerpt which he shared with Complex earlier this week. In it, he shares his thoughts on his friendship with the rapper, as it stood in late 1995, the same year he interviewed Shakur as he served time for sexual assault on Rikers Island. It was this interview that provided much of the backdrop for the iconic jailhouse exclusive for VIBE, which Shakur himself claimed as his final interview, one of the myriad examples of the 25-year-old alluding to his impending death. Perhaps one of the most read interviews in music history, it provided a sobering glimpse into the mind of Shakur, a mere few months before his death. However, the audio tapes used to construct that interview have, for the most part, remained tightly under wraps, their contents known only to an inner sanctum of close confidants. But now, thanks to his decision to share some exclusive audio with Complex, Powell has given Tupac fans some insight into what really happened on the second-most infamous night of ‘Pac’s career, recounted in his own voice.
Near the 2:30 mark, Powell and Shakur’s jailhouse conversation begins, and in it Powell asks him to describe the events that precipitated ‘Pac’s being shot at Quad Studios in New York City in 1994. Certain names are censored out of the audio clip, but Heads who have followed the story are likely to easily identify who the unknown players are. In the clip, ‘Pac discusses his working with Ron G. and his decision to accept a $7,000 offer to lay down some verses for a song that would also feature Biggie, and it’s clear ‘Pac had his doubts, as the parties involved seemed overly eager to rush him to the studios. “I wasn’t thinking ‘why they want me there so bad?’,” he shares. More tension arose when it was discovered that ‘Pac wouldn’t be getting paid on delivery, which prompted him to renege on his decision to contribute a verse. After the finances had appeared to be handled according to plan, Shakur begins to detail a play-by-play of his arrival to the studio. “We parked the car in the garage, we walkin’ up to the building. Somebody screamed for the studio, and it’s [Lil’ Cease]…that’s my homeboy…as soon as I saw him, all my inhibitions about ‘this could be a set-up’ was relaxed.”
Shakur finishes the first-person account of the evening in the audio clip, and for several minutes afterwards, Powell discusses his own feelings about what went down that night with Complex News. Check out the chilling excerpt of his and ‘Pac’s conversation below, and to pick up a copy of Powell’s new book, visit Amazon to order The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood.