The Drug Enforcement Administration has indicted rap music manager James Rosemond -- the man accused of arranging the 1994 attack on Tupac Shakur -- on 18 felony charges, following a year-long investigation of a narcotics ring involving Interscope Records.
According to The Smoking Gun, the label's Los Angeles offices were used as a pickup and delivery point for cross-country shipments of cash and cocaine packed in music road cases.
The 46-year-old Rosemond, who faces up to life in prison, was apprehended in June for his alleged role, since 2008, as the "principal leader" of a cocaine distribution ring. The arrest came just days after confessed-Tupac-shooter Dexter Isaac claimed that he had been hired and paid by Rosemond for the hit job that led to the bi-coastal rap feud that left both Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. dead. A controversial Los Angeles Times report in 2008 claims Rosemond orchestrated the hit because Shakur refused to take him on as his manager.
It's nothing a million stoned motherfuckers haven't said before, but there was just something different about Tupac. He's not the only rapper synonymous with the early '90's, the subjects he sang about were the stock stories of his genre, and there's plenty of artists from the Beach Boys to Phantom Planet that are practically inseparable from the idea of California. But he was just that guy you felt like you knew, you know? He was specific, even as he was multi-sided: he was silly, he was vulnerable, he could be brash, wily, smooth and even threatening. He had an inner life, in other words, which meant his songs lingered longer in those moments when we were really living, and feeling like the selves we were becoming or wanted to become.
Not everyone loved 'Pac, but everyone had nailed down an idea of what he was about, where he came from and what they wanted him to represent in their own lives. So we hit the mean streets and found a few regular Angelenos, just doing their thing, and asked them: 'What's your favorite Tupac memory?' Hint: Lots of people talked about "California Love."
A backing group who coalesced around Tupac only a year before his death, The Outlawz also served as his support system during his most tumultuous times. Best known for backing him on "Hit 'Em Up," the group has now been whittled down to three members, Hussein, E.D.I. Mean, and Young Noble. They made headlines recently by confirming the long-held rumor that they smoked Tupac's ashes, prompting an angry retort from Shakur's mother.
In conjunction with the 15th anniversary of his death, the group's new album, Perfect Timing, dropped yesterday. The trio knew Tupac like few others, at a time when his profile was highest. They bonded in large part through their ink, an art form in which 'Pac was something of a pioneer, at least in hip hop. The Outlawz, in fact, even got their name from one of his tats.
Who used to do Pac's tattoos?
Hussein: 'Pac probably got them all over the place. There was this spot on Sunset [Mark Mahoney's Shamrock Tattoo, surely], but I can't remember the name. They were some cool cats in there -- Irish guys who wore zoot suits, greaser type dudes. We could be driving past the ink shop and he would suddenly pull over. "Where you going?" we'd ask. He'd say: "I'm going to get tatted."
Did you know Tupac was planning to open an L.A. restaurant before he died? It was to be called Powamekka Cafe, a play on the words "power" and "Mecca," and billed as a "passionate paradise 4 people with power 2 play and parlay," as he was quoted describing it in the 2006 book Tupac Shakur: Legacy.
'Pac never got the chance to formally announce its menu to the world; like many celebrity-conceived spots, it likely never got too far out of the planning stage. But one can guess its offerings based on the detailed descriptions of his eating habits given to West Coast Sound by his friends and rapping colleagues. (Hint: He wouldn't have pioneered the locavore health movement.)
"He had a cupboard of junk food, like sodas and popcorn," recalls Steele, one half of Brooklyn boom-bap group Smif-n-Wessun.
"I only listen to 2Pac before going to shoot Gaddafi boys," said Hisham al Hady to a British journalist recently. Al Hady is a Libyan rebel battling the regime of Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, but he's not alone. Shakur's influence on African fighters extends far beyond the current civil strife in Libya, and goes much deeper than just pre-battle pump-ups.
Militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo adopted knock-off Tupac T-shirts as de facto uniforms in the late 1990s, as did members of that country's regular armed forces. By 2002, rebels in Côte d'Ivoire were similarly clad in Pac-adorned attire.
Bruce Hornsby has been a household name for 25 years. His 1986 album with the Range, The Way It Is, went triple platinum. But in hip-hop he's known for providing the sample to one of Tupac's most popular songs, "Changes," which was culled from Hornby's breakout hit, "The Way It Is."
On the heels of Hornsby's new live album Bride Of The Noisemakers, the Virginia native and devoted Christian Scientist tells us about how "Changes" came to be, his impressions of 'Pac, and a crazy story involving a former Virginia senator.