Coolio Explains Why His Tupac Collaboration Was Deliberately Erased (Video)
In the mid-1990s, two of the biggest stars in music were rappers, Coolio and Tupac Shakur. At the 38th Grammy Awards in February of 1996, the two men competed for “Best Rap Solo Performance.” Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” took the trophy home, while Tupac’s “Dear Mama” joined singles by Biggie, Dr. Dre, and Skee-Lo as nominees.
Despite competing that night at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Pac and the former member of WC and The Maad Circle were friends. While Shakur was incarcerated in 1995, Coolio filled in to star in his “Temptations” music video from Me Against The World, with a cast of Rap peers. Shakur’s Digital Underground family was Tommy Boy Records label-mates with the mainstream-facing gangsta rapper.
A decade ago, some handwritten prison notes from Tupac Shakur surfaced for the public. Among them were tracklistings for albums the Thug Life MC intended to make called Euthanasia and Supreme Euthanasia. One page, for the latter LP, is dated September 13, 1995 (one year to the day before his death) and maps out a tracklist involving the likes of Scarface, Kool G Rap, Method Man, Freddie Foxxx, C-Bo, Queen Latifah, Smif-n-Wessun, and Kam, among others. Included is a plan for one song titled “Til I C L.A.,” featuring Ice Cube and Coolio. Shakur went as far as attaching producers, and this song was intended be joined to a beat by DJ Battlecat (Domino, Kurupt, Tha Eastsidaz).
Coolio recently told Poland’s Pop Killer about a song that was recorded following Tupac’s prison release, and why the public will never hear it. “I recorded a song with [Tupac]. My original DJ, DJ Wino [aka Bryan “The Wino” Dobbs]—basically the guy who created my sound…he did a track for Pac, right there in the studio,” begins Coolio, referring to his “Fantastic Voyage” partner. “I was on a verse, Pac was on a verse, and I think somebody else was on a verse.” Asked if it was Rappin’ 4-Tay, Coolio says he cannot remember all the studio personnel on that particular day.
The multi-platinum Grammy winner explains the fate of the track. “So we finish the song, and [The Wino] asked [Tupac], ‘How much are you gonna pay me?’ And Pac didn’t want to pay him nothin’; he tried to give him like a couple hundred bucks. I was giving [The Wino] $3,000 a track, but that’s my boy. He asked Pac—[negotiating] from $3,000 all the way down to $500, and Pac wouldn’t do it. He told the engineer to erase the track, and he erased it. And I’m sure [The Wino] regrets that now.”
In addition to Coolio, Wino would later work with Kam on the 2001 Kamnesia album.
#BonusBeat: Some vintage footage of Coolio freestyling and Tupac going crazy:
The footage is believed to be from 1994.