Tupac Explains Why All Eyez on Me Was So Different From His Other Albums (Audio)
A week removed from the artist’s return from prison in 1995, L.A. Times journalist Chuck Philips sat down with Tupac Shakur to talk about the making of his album All Eyez On Me and the societal implications of his music in between listening sessions at the studio.
From the day he was released from prison, Tupac hit the studio to begin recording the classic album that recently hit 10 million in sales earlier this month.
“I been in the studio since the day after I got out,” he said. “I got out Thursday, I been in here since Friday. About twelve hours a day. Up until they kick me out. It be dark and everybody gotta go to sleep, people be passing out, so I’m like, ‘Okay, I guess we gotta go home now.’ So then we go home, come back early in the morning, and do it again. I think we broke a record this time for any recording. I’m trying to do my album in less than a week so I can call my album 7 Days. But if I change the title I might do a couple more songs.”
For Tupac, it wasn’t just about releasing new material. There were people who discredited his name, his music, and his lifestyle inside and outside of the media. With the firm belief that the messages behind his music were being relatively unnoticed and under appreciated, Tupac began creating an album for the ages to set the critics straight. When asked about the “sermon” style lyricism he buried in his previous material, Tupac explained his new approach to his music and what the “perfect album” means to him.
“I’m not doing it no more cause I’m going unnoticed. Now I’m just gunna put out an album full of just, anger. Cause before that’s all they were saying. When I want you to cry, you gon’ cry. When I want you to feel sorry for this person, you going to feel sorry for that person. When I want you to feel, you know, we’re having fun. I want you to feel like you’re really, really having fun when you’re listening to the music. So, at the same token, life is not just beautiful. It’s not just having fun. It’s not all killing and drugs though. I’m not going to front. But, it’s not all fun. So the perfect album to me is when you talk about the hard shit, the sexy shit, the fun shit, the sad shit, the hurting shit. Know what I mean? And I feel like I have all that on all of my albums. This album right here, it’s not too many sympathetic songs cause I’m not caring. I’m mad, cause I’m like, all the critics all y’all talked about was shit that wasn’t on my album, so I figured I don’t even have to write that no more I can write whatever I want now. I thought I was being politically correct when I wrote my shit. But, um, now I don’t care. My shit is very un- PC. Maybe, you know what, just sitting here talking to you Chuck, I might call my shit, NC-17, no children under 17. Maybe they won’t get mad at me. What you think I should do?”
Tupac also described the differences between his material before All Eyez On Me and after:
“This album is a reaction to the backlash from C. Delores Tucker, Bob Dole, all those people that kept sweating me about the music,” he said. “Now, I feel as though this album is something for them to sweat. Before my album wasn’t even bad and they was calling me a gangster and just messing up my whole credit line and ruining my reputation. Look at my songs. On the first album, ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby.’ On the second album, ‘Keep Ya Head Up.’ On the third album, ‘Dear Mama.’ Where is the killer music? Where is the make-a-kid-wanna-jump-off-a-bridge shit? I just don’t see it. So now, this album, I didn’t try to make any ‘Dear Mama’s,’ any ‘Keep Ya Head Up’s,’ I just came straight with dealing with my own anger. I’m doing this just for what the music is [to vent] my anger. Getting everything I wanna say out since I can’t express myself in any other way. Plus I was locked down for eleven months so I gotta lot of stress and pressure to get up off my chest. I think I did it on this album. That’s why I stayed in the studio…I wrote only one song in jail. Everything else I wrote while we sat up in here drinking Budweiser. After the Budweiser is gone we have a song usually. With Daz, Johnny J, and I’m about to do one with Sam Sneed right now.”
When asked for his own opinions about his music, Tupac described his real life approach to his sound, the implications of his personal actions, and the public’s own reaction to his music and personal life.
“I think my music is good music,” he said. “I think the shit that I say, no one else says. Who was writing about Black women before ‘Keep Ya Head Up?’ Now everybody got a song about Black women. Who was writing about that when I was writing about that? Who was writing about their own problems? I wasn’t talking [blah blah blah], I was talking my real problems. I was really having problems with police. I was really having problems with life and just being Black and why the hell we gotta get stepped on so much? But then I’m making it, I thought I was successful when I’m still getting stepped on. How come I got a boot-print on my back and I’m successful? I just couldn’t believe that. So instead of me just bugging out and doing a post office move and just shooting everything up and going to jail for a million years, I just said, ‘Fuck it. I’m in here rapping. Why not just rap about some shit that’s really happening?’ That’s what I did. That’s when they started really kicking my ass for real. The IRS, every cop everywhere, any kind of candidate wanna come. It was to the point I was having cases everywhere I went. People just bump into me and be like, ‘Tupac hit me.’ It was getting retarded. Then you got the Vice President on TV saying your shit ain’t no good so of course it makes people think, ‘Oh my God, he’s a true menace.’ Then the newspaper going, ‘Oh, Tupac spit at the cameras,’ I’m spitting at the cameras because everybody—I’m not gonna do that no more, let me just say that, I changed—but I bet you everybody who hasn’t been in that position where you’re in your private life, you’re getting in your own car, you’re not at no premiere nowhere, and it’s fifty cameras there shoving there way into your car, you wanna hit…There’s a camera right here and I didn’t ask for it to be there and that’s my own personal space.”
Tupac was eventually released from prison after Suge Knight and Jimmy Iovine posted his 1.4 million dollar bail so that he could begin recording the multi-platinum project, in addition to an agreement that he would record a grand total of three albums with Death Row Records. As the ink was drying from his recent signing, Tupac candidly revealed why he agreed to the contract.
“There wasn’t nowhere else to go, no one else wanted to take me but the Row,”
Tupac admitted that his upcoming double LP, like it or not, would be exactly the type of “trouble” that his naysayers were expecting.
“They gon’ feel all eleven months of what I went through in this album,” he said. “I’m gonna hit’em with nothing but trouble, but good trouble. Trouble that bring money don’t bring pain. All I’m doing is talking shit, and I should be allowed to talk as much shit as I want.”
Take a listen to the interview, which starts in earnest at the 9:43 mark.
Shouts to HipHopDX for uncovering this gem of an interview.