Why do you think so many young black men around the country identify with you?
Cause we all soldiers, unfortunately. Everybody’s at war. Some of us are at war with different things. With ourselves. Some of them are at war with the establishment. Some of us are at war with our own communities.
What are you at war with?
Different things at different times.
My own heart sometimes. There’s two niggas inside me. One who wants to live in peace, and the other won’t die unless he’s free.
What about the Tupac who’s the son of a Black Panther and Tupac the rapper?
Tupac the son of the Black Panther and Tupac the rider. Those are the two people that’s inside of me. Like, my mom and them envisioned this world for us to live in, and they strove to make that world. So I was raised off those ideals, to want those. And in my own life, I saw that that world was impossible to have. It’s a world in our head. It’s a world that we think about on Christmas and at Thanksgiving. And it’s a world that we pass on to our children to make. So I had to live in this world like it is today. She taught me how to live in that world that we have to strive for. And for that, I’m forever grateful. She put heaven in my heart.
Do you feel like you’re walking a balance between those two worlds?
I follow my heart every time I pray to God. I feel like I’m doing what God wants me to do. I asked God when I got shot, What you want me to do? Just guide me. And I told him this time when I get out, I said, Whatever you put in my heart, God, is what I’m gonna do—100 percent. Whatever my heart tells me is what I’m gonna do. So please control my heart. And if I do anything you don’t like me doin’, say anything you don’t want me to say, please help me to stop it. That’s the only thing I can do in order to live. Or else I’ll be phony or I’ll be faking. I won’t know what to do.
Do you feel that you’re a leader?
I think so, I think I’m a natural born leader. But I think I’m a leader because I’m a good soldier. If Colin Powell was president, I’d follow him. You know what I’m saying? I know how to bow down to authority, if it was authority that I respect. You know what I mean?
What if Colin Powell would have run for president?
I would have supported him. I was talking to Al Sharpton about how he should run. And I would help him. I wanna get into politics.
Because that’s the way for us to overcome a lot of our obstacles, is to have political power. Nothing can stop power or recognize power but power. Everything you telling me to do, Let’s sit down and talk. If Bosnia disrespects America, or Saddam Hussein disrespects America, they gonna go to war. Cause America wants its respect. And they gonna sit down after Saddam Hussein recognizes that they should respect America. We have to have respect before we can have communication. Before we can communicate, there has to be a mutual respect. And we don’t have that.
I respect the east coast. The east coast know I respect them. I used to beat niggas up for Queen Latifah. You can ask Chuck D. When they robbed P.E., I was there. When Treach was out there and niggas wanted… It’s not as bad as everybody think. It’s not like everybody fighting. We get along with the south. We get along with Miami. The West Coast get along with Texas. New Yorkers… Strong hip hoppers.
What about the attacks from politicians?
It made me go in the studio and just think about being more relentless. I do not suggest that children buy this album.
There’s a lot of cursing. There’s a lot of raw game that needs to be discussed in a family moment before you let them listen to this.
What would you suggest parents tell their kids before they listen to your new album?
Most of them already know the things that I’m talking about. Explain to them that because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean that it’s okay. That this comes from someone who just spent eleven and a half months in a maximum security jail, got shot five times, and was wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. This is not from a normal person.