MC Eiht Offers Firsthand Insight Into How Tupac’s Gang Affinities Killed Him (Video)
Although they would never release a song collaboration, MC Eiht and Tupac Shakur worked together in the 1990s. The two Hip-Hop artists would tour, as well as begin production on Menace II Society in the same cast (Shakur would later be fired). Reflecting on their relationship, the Compton’s Most Wanted front-man told DJ Vlad, “I’ve never had one fucked-up incident when I was around [Tupac Shakur]. I always had good experiences […] We had a lot of concerts together.” By the middle of the 1990s, Tupac relocated to Southern California, where he would sign with Suge Knight and Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records. There, ‘Pac would work closely with Eiht rival DJ Quik. Overall, Eiht says that he maintained a cordial and mutual respect with the All Eyez On Me star. “I didn’t judge him for none of the shit [he did or said] because I came from hard life too.”
With MC Eiht being from Compton, the same city that was home to Suge, Quik, and lots of figures tied to Tupac’s life and death, Vlad asked the rapper to reflect on that September 1996 period. “Knowing him for the time that I did, I thought it was one of those scenarios to where you [get] what you [ask] for. He left us with this image of…one minute he could be [a figure of speaking out against sexism] to one image that was ‘Fuck the world. I’ma shoot you and blast on you,’ to one image of gang-banging of ‘I’m with Suge [Knight] and the [MOB Piru] Bloods.’ To me, it was a hard road [he took] because there was some of those situations that he should have avoided…gang-banging is goin’ backwards—especially if you started on another path.”
Eiht pointed out that Shakur was in fact born in New York City, a long way away from the gang-controlled streets of South Central, Los Angeles. “[For Tupac to go through all he went through], and [his] end result is being killed in a drive-by, [gang] affiliation is way beyond the [goal].” Vlad asked Eiht if he knew Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, the lead suspect in Shakur’s murder—although never tried nor convicted. Anderson, a top-ranking member of the Southside Crips in Compton, would be murdered in May, 1998. “I knew Baby Lane. My boy knew him real good. Real good,” confirmed Eiht. Vlad pressed Eiht if he knew Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis—a Southside Crip leader whose documented testimony has been the basis of the investigation of Shakur’s murder by now-retired Los Angeles Police Department Detective Greg Kading. “I know Kefe.” Per Kefe’s recorded testimony, he was one of four men (including Anderson) in the white Cadillac that fatally ambushed Shakur and injured Knight in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a line up questioning breaking down the investigation’s findings Eiht deduced “90% of that is probably real.” Kading’s investigation has been made public by the book and recently-released film Murder Rap, which Eiht said he not seen.
Returning to the fatal drive-by, Eiht stated, “The streets talk. It was basically a situation ‘Pac shouldn’t have been in. Like you said, ‘gang-banging.'” According to MGM Grand surveillance cameras, Shakur and Knight punched, knocked down, and kicked Anderson moments after the Mike Tyson Bruce Seldon fight both parties attended. The altercation was a perceived retaliation from a 1996 chain-snatching incident involving Anderson, and Death Row associate Travon Lane at L.A.’s Lakewood Mall. “Everybody knew about the incident that happened with the chain in the mall,” Eiht confirmed. Suge Knight, Travon Lane, and multiple Death Row staff and associates were affiliated with the M.O.B. Piru Bloods, a Compton-based Blood set. “You have to really tread lightly when it comes to gang-banging, affiliation, and who you fuckin’ with. You might be trying to prove a point to the dudes you’re around, but you might not have any idea who the fuck you fuckin’ with. You don’t know if this dude done killed 50 mothafuckas, or nobody. By him not being from Compton, and knowing the foundations of these real dudes, he kinda stepped into a world that he probably wasn’t gonna be able to get out of. Once you get to that, and get to dissin’, and start claimin’ ‘I’m a Blood, I’m a Crip,’ and you start affiliating yourself, people gonna take that down in history. You steppin’ into a world that ain’t got shit to do with fancy chains, million dollars, and hotel suites.”
MC Eiht, whose formal rival Quik has also spoken about the chain-snatching leading to Tupac’s murder, put himself in Shakur’s shoes. “He felt like he was representing. He felt like ‘Because I’m associating myself with these dudes and I’m associating myself with the Mob and I’m yellin’ it on records and ‘fuck the Rap game, this is the Mob—M.O.B. this, M.O.B. that, he wanted to show them that he really wanted to be loyal to them. I get it. But there’s certain things you just don’t do to want to belong—especially as a grown man. People are gonna accept you for who you are. If you’re just a rapper, you’re just a rapper.” In lyrics, tattoos, and publicly, Shakur championed the M.O.B. At the time of the shooting, Tupac and Suge were on their way to Vegas’ Club 662 (owned by Knight, and the telephone code for “M.O.B.” Eiht continued, “When you get in that world, niggas don’t give a fuck if you got a gold record, or a chain, or your name is Tupac and you been in movies with Janet Jackson or whatever. These are the streets. These streets have been here before Rap music came along and they gon’ be here after. Just like, rest in peace Tupac, rest in peace Baby Lane—they still out there gang-banging. They still out there shooting and killing.” Looking at his own upbringing and presumed Tragniew Park Compton Crip ties.”Some of us grew up there, so there’s no choice. Either you belong or you get fucked up.”
In the interview, Eiht expounds on contemporary celebrities publicly claiming gang ties, despite upbringings far removed from the streets. “I don’t think it’s to the point of [people] gang-banging for a sense of security. They start doin’ it ’cause ‘I feel like I’m a bad ass mothafucka, and I can do what I want’ and it fascinates the bitches. It fascinates the bitches when a nigga can walk into the club and go ‘Yeah, Blood’ or ‘Yeah, Crip’ and got 15 niggas around him poppin’ bottles all night. To them, that’s hardness.” Eiht, who maintains he has never paid for security, said, “A hard nigga is a nigga that’s gonna ride up and down the street all night goin’ ‘I’m a Crip’ or ‘I’m a Blood’ in front of 30 niggas, not givin’ a fuck. That’s a hard nigga!”
In 2015, MC Eiht and Spice 1 released their latest collaborative album, Keep It Gangsta.