Ed Lover’s Tupac Stories Will Make You Cover Your Mouth (Audio)
Contemporary Hip-Hop has a plethora of media personalities presenting, dissecting, and analyzing the music and culture. Names such as Sway Calloway, Charlamagne Tha God, Miss Info, and DJ Vlad come to mind in breaking news, discourse, and reaction to the daily stream of events. These personalities use different media platforms to reach audiences. For many Heads, Ed Lover was one of the first, most memorable, and impactful disseminators of Hip-Hop news, discussion, and art. A Queens, New York native, Lover would join partner Doctor Dré on Yo! MTV Raps to celebrate Hip-Hop music, video, and happenings at one of its most exciting and pivotal periods. From MTV hosting duties, Lover would move to film, radio, and numerous other platforms to become a figure that cared for the culture, and knew when to joke and when to be serious.
Recently, Lover joined one of today’s trusted voices, Combat Jack, for a nearly two-hour interview on his musical beginnings, some of the most memorable moments of “Yo!,” and his views on the music and culture after 30 years.
At 42:10 minutes in the interview, Lover discusses his rather unique relationship with Tupac Shakur. “[Tupac] was my guy! I knew him from Digital Underground. I knew him ’cause I knew Shock [G]; it’s funny how people thought Shock and Humpty [Hump] were two different people.” Digital Underground’s front-man Shock G (who would later produce Tupac hit records) created a mythical figure in the group, and the subject of “The Humpty Dance,” the band’s biggest hit. However, most of the time, Humpty Hump was really Shock G in an elaborate costume, complete with Groucho Marx glasses, nose, and mustache. “MTV would just cut it; he’d go change his clothes so that they’d [appear on screen] together, but it was two different shots,” Ed Lover reveals. “It was just edited that way. And ‘Pac was a [Digital Underground] roadie. So we got to talkin’, and [became] cool.”
Ed Lover was the person who would introduce Shakur to one of his best friends throughout the early and mid-1990s. “My man Stretch—God rest his soul—from the Live Squad [was one of my best friends too]. It was my time to shoot [the scene I had in] Juice. We met ‘Pac on the set of Juice; them two connected crazy, ’cause they both smoked weed and they were both wild as a mothafucka. ‘Pac was just our guy. He’d be at my mother’s house; we’d be sitting on the steps. We’d get on the train and go to the Apollo [Theater together]. We’d just hang out, and he’d come down to Jack The Rapper [Convention]. This was right as he was getting ready to release [2Pacalypse Now].”
In one episode of Yo! MTV Raps, Ed Lover famously held his hand over the mouth of the breakout solo star, as his career was fast-rising. Ed explains, “[I covered his mouth] because I didn’t want him to get in trouble when he was talking about beating up the Hughes Brothers. ‘Cause ‘Pac was supposed to be ‘O-Dog’ in Menace II Society, but he said they fired him [for what he would deem] ‘some punk, bully, pussy, bullshit, so when I saw ’em in trafffic, I whopped both they mothafuckin’ asses’—you know how ‘Pac would get all mothafuckin’ hyped up?” After being fired from Menace II Society, and replaced by Larenz Tate, Tupac launched a campaign against the two directors who fired him. “[As Tupac went on a tirade] I knew that was gonna get him in trouble, so I put my hand over his mouth before he could say any more. [Allen and Albert Hughes] saw the episode, subpoenaed the tape, took that, and used it against him in a court of law.”
Some of that footage:
That outburst (alongside Poetic Justice director John Singleton) would cost Shakur. The Hughes Brothers (who later directed Dead Presidents) sued him for assaulting them. In 1994, the Interscope Records star served 15 days in jail for two incidents. That MTV moment—despite Ed Lover’s hand—would be used in court to connect Shakur to the attack.
Another time, over a marijuana arrest, Ed Lover recalls bailing Shakur and Stretch’s brother and Live Squad partner Majesty out of jail. At a Hip-Hop function, Lover gave the group’s weed stash to then Def Jam Records MC Nikki D.
Speaking about Shakur, Ed Lover offered another very rare anecdote involving two late Rap superstars. “For Jack The Rapper 2 [in Atlanta, Georgia], I was staying in the hotel where they had a party. So we’re standing there; ‘Pac goes, ‘Yo, let me get your room-key. I’m gonna get me some pussy.’ I said, ‘You want my room key? Man, you ain’t fuckin’ on my bed. Fuck naw.’ [He said he would use the cover blanket only]. So I give him my room key. I’m like, ‘Who you gettin’ ready to smash, dog?’ He goes, ‘Look over there, standing by the door.’ I look, and it was Left-Eye.” At the time, Left-Eye was a burgeoning Hip-Hop star thanks to her role in LaFace Records hit-makers TLC. During Combat Jack’s live taping in Atlanta, this revelation gets a strong crowd reaction. Ed continues, “Right? So check this out. God rest Left-Eye’s soul, this is a true fuckin’ story; I was there. So he took my room key, him and Left-Eye make they move. And they go upstairs. And not even seven minutes later, he’s back down with me. I’m like, ‘What happened? You hit that?’ He said, ‘Let me tell you what happened, man. I took my clothes off. I got on the bed; I’m ready to smash.’ She talkin’ about, “Let me get more comfortable.” She go in the bathroom and come out with some Naughty By Nature drawers on. I’m like, “fuck this.”‘” Shakur had been closely connected to Naughty By Naure and Flavor Unit. “Even though him and Treach was tight like that, he was not having it. [Laughs] He said that shit was not sexy at all.”
Ed Lover recalls a young twenty-something Shakur, Stretch, and himself being forcibly thrown out of Atlanta’s Magic City strip club. The trio—especially ‘Pac were warned about touching dancers, jumping on the stages, and other inappropriate behavior. Ed describes the security exit as “[We were] chucked like Jazzy Jeff got chucked out [‘Uncle Phil’s’] house [on ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’].”
Lover and Shakur’s friendship would be tested following his 1995 release from prison. However, the MTV host says he saw his friend just moments before his 1996 drive-by shooting that would ultimately kill him. “I saw him 15 minutes before he got shot. They had stomped [Orlando Anderson] out, and [the Death Row Records entourage] came through the MGM Grand. I’m at the Betty Boop Bar, ’cause that’s where all the pimps hang out at. So I’m hangin’ out with Don Magic Juan and Pretty Tony, Pretty Dre, and all these [pimps], just talkin’ shit and drinkin’. At the time, [Tupac and I] were kind of like on the outs.” Lover explained how he was bothered by Shakur’s falling out with Stretch.
Stretch, who was born Randy Walker, had produced and rapped on 2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. and Thug Life, Vol. 1 albums. The MC/producer would appear on 1994 single “Pain,” which was a vinyl release that appeared in Above The Rim. However, following a November 1994 New York City shooting-robbery of Shakur, he allegedly was at odds with Stretch. One year to the day after Shakur’s Quad Studios shooting, Stretch was fatally shot and murdered after dropping off Majesty at his home in Queens, New York.
Ed explains, “Since the early Stretch was ‘Pac’s best friend—and if I see [All Eyez On Me] and he’s not an intrical part of this movie, I’m gonna be very upset.” Both Shakur and Lover are godparents to Stretch’s daughter. “Stretch had gotten killed in Queens. At the time [Tupac was shot in 1994 at Quad Studios], Stretch was right next to him.” That is where things got challenging. “[Before the shooting, The Notorious B.I.G.], ‘Pac, Stretch, Nas—all of these dudes were friends.” However, as The Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy were recording at Quad the night of the attack, Shakur accused them of setting him up. Following a legal battle, Shakur left prison out to defame some former friends. Stretch refused to cooperate, according to Lover. “So when he started going on his rampage against Biggie, he wanted Stretch to choose a side. Stretch was like, ‘I ain’t got nothing to do with what you and Suge [Knight] doin’; I’m not signed to Death Row, homie. I’m not gonna ruin my relationship with Big ’cause you got some shit in your head—that ain’t true—against B.I.G.'”
Stretch would be murdered shortly after Shakur’s prison release. That year, 1996, he worked on Nas’ It Was Written album, who was also one of Tupac’s adversaries. Tupac, then signed to Death Row, did not attend his friend’s funeral. Ed Lover says he took umbrage with that. “We were on the outs, ’cause Stretch died and then we had the  MTV Video Music Awards. They had the after-party in Bryant Park. I stepped to [Tupac] and cursed him out in front of every-fuckin’-body, by myself, knowing that these dudes could probably beat me into a fuckin’ coma. But my heart was just so full of my dude whose name is still tattooed to my left arm to this day that ‘You didn’t show up for this dude who held you the fuck down in New York.’ We had words, man—and I turned around.”
Just days later, the two Hip-Hop artists crossed paths in a Las Vegas, Nevada casino bar. “The next time I saw him was [September 7, 1996]. He came through with Suge and he stopped, ‘Ed, what’s up? What’s good?’ And Suge was glaring menacingly at me as he always did. I didn’t give a fuck. I had my [gun] on me anyway, so we could’ve gotten down heavy. But me and Suge became friends later on. We just talked, and he said, ‘Are you coming over to [Club 662]?'” In addition to having a hosting gig, Ed Lover says he was concerned for his safety at the nearby nightclub owned by Suge Knight—the site of a post-Mike Tyson victory after-party. “I’m sayin’ ‘yeah,’ but in my head I’m [not going out of safety].” I told him, ‘I love you, man.’ He said, ‘I love you too. Aiight, I see you later.’ That’s the last time I saw him alive.”
Shakur and Knight would be attacked in a drive-by shooting on the way from one of Knight’s residences in Vegas to Club 662. Numerous parties have testified that a car carrying the man Shakur and Knight beat in the casino, Orlando Anderson, was from where the fatal shots were fired—one of which also struck Knight.
Ed Lover summarizes who Shakur was to Combat Jack and the live audience. “Tupac was a torn soul. He was a poet to the highest degree. He had a lot of love for Black people because his mom was a [Black] Panther. So his heart was revolutionary, and his soul was with Black people. If it wasn’t, he couldn’t have made records like ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby,’ ‘Dear Mama,’ and ‘Keep Ya Head Up,’ and stuff like that. On the other side, ‘Pac liked to play. He liked to talk baller shit. He liked to talk his shit. He was just an all around good dude, that—in my opinion—made the mistake of getting mixed up with the wrong record label.”
Lover emphasized just how big the impact was on his life. “Everybody on my [Queens] block loved him; he was regular. I saw the change when he signed with Death Row and everything became rah-rah. That beef [with Bad Boy Records] was so fuckin’ out of control. Dude, I lost three close friends in three years, back-to-back-to-back. I lost Stretch in ’95. I lost ‘Pac in ’96. And I lost Big in ’97—right behind each other. All bullshit.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Ed Lover discusses one wild night of partying with Mike Tyson, the current distance between him and Doctor Dré (“we’ll get it together”), and being dismissed from his post at Power 105. Lover explains being led out of his $800,000 a year job as “They put me out of the building like a common piece of trash.”
Ed Lover is hoping to take his “C’mon Son” series to podcast.