tupac

How Former VIBE Editor Maureen Carter Got Tupac's 'Lost' Interview

How Maureen Carter Met Tupac Shakur.

In 1996, the internet was a wide open lane for exclusive content, and that went double for anything that included video. With VIBE Magazine having a strong year long web space presence with it’s www.VIBE.com online property, its New Media Creative Director at the time, Maureen Carter found a way to get the wildest interview possible. If the term “going viral” was popular back then, her candid conversation with a hyped up, super passionate Tupac Shakur would have been just that.

Carter’s intense on camera interview sparked much discussion within the music industry circles, as ‘Pac let it all out on topics of the East - West war, loyalty and what he was reading at the time. Read on how Carter, now a top executive at BET Networks, secured the greatest get to spark the VIBE brand’s internet boom.

VIBE: How and when did your career begin at VIBE, and what was your title?
Maureen Carter: I was hired to add “graphics” to an “Internet website” in 1995. Back then, programmers could write the code but they didn’t have designers that could make the graphics. This was my first job while in grad school as a visual design major at Pratt. I remember my boss at the time saying to me to give yourself any title you want so you could look back on this and say “This is a title I would be proud of,” so I named myself the hottest title at the time, New Media Creative Director.

How did you come to do the VIBE.com video interview with Tupac Shakur, and what kind of adventures did you have making it happen?
I was attending an E3 conference in Los Angeles for work and it was my first time ever going to the West Coast. I said to myself, 'There is no way I am going to L.A. and not see Tupac.' I was his biggest fan. I had confidence that I would meet him somehow, someway. I asked a co-worker, [Events Director] Karla Radford, to arrange a meeting for a VIBE.com interview, and she did. I had 24 hours to get a camera crew and a script together. I asked a senior colleague, [VIBE's Publisher] Len Burnett, for his credit card and bought a video camera in Cali. He told me not to mess it up as it will go back the next day. I reached out to my intern at the time, Larry “Blackspot” Hester, and he faxed, yes, faxed me some questions. I remember staying up all night writing more and rehearsing them.

What was your relationship to hip-hop at that point, and why did you want to speak with Tupac?
I lived [and] live for hip-hop. I was the president of the LL Cool J fan club at 15-years-old of the New Jersey chapter. I knew music was my calling. From being inspired by the Sugarhill Gang with my sister as a kid memorizing all the words to “Rapper’s Delight” to seeing every Run-DMC concert I was allowed. It was my destiny. I am one of the rare individuals who got their dream job as their first job—and for me it was Vibe.

Ironically, the first question you asked, or one of the first, is where he saw himself 20 years from now. What made you ask that question?
I cannot take credit for that question, it was Blackspot’s. I delivered it well though. Looking back, I realize that there is the gift of intuitive. I knew that his kind was special and somehow he would have an impact on the world.

What were you thinking and feeling as you sat there with Tupac?
Nervous, so nervous and that I hoped he thought I was pretty. Not for the reason one may think, only to confirm for me at that time that I had the blend of what I expected a hip-hop influencer to be: the person who had the smarts and the looks. It’s only when you get a little older that you realize the looks don’t really matter.

Tupac would only be alive only four more months after you did this interview. Was there anything he said or you felt that gave you an indication he would not be with us much longer?
No, we never know that. However, when he mentioned himself as a metaphor to Jesus’ walk before the crucifixion, I knew I was dealing with someone in a different stratosphere. Someone that was wise beyond his years.

It is deep to me that Tupac lived just long enough to be interviewed in the new dot-com space for VIBE. How old was Vibe.com when you did that interview?
One year! Yikes, it was such a great time back then, we explored with various content and technologies to see what stuck. There was no wrong answer. I am thankful for that experience in my life.

What was digital media like back then, and how has it evolved through the years?
Slow. [Laughs] I remember testing different file sizes of “cover art” and seeing how long users would wait for load times. It was a great time of exploration. Since then, new terms like social media, user experience, and digital disruption have become a part of our daily language in this space. It still baffles me that you can actually major in “digital” careers in college today. It’s an exciting time and now young people can have careers in creativity that also rank high in employment demand.

Why have you decided to speak about this interview now, why is it so important for you to share your experience with Tupac?
Because it is 20 years later. As an executive at BET, we are working on Tupac content pieces and I realized how important my experience was and how it changed my life. Time to share my story.

Why do you think Tupac Shakur has become one of the great global icons of all time, not just for hip-hop, but in general?
Some people are just blessed with that “IT”—he was one of those. There are many who followed, but there will never be another Tupac, the same way there will never be another Obama.

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Man Exonerated After Serving 45 Years Forced To Sell Prison Artwork For Money

A Detroit man who served 45 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, is forced to sell his personal collection of artwork that he made in prison. Richard Phillips, 72, doesn’t have steady income at the moment, and his lawyer is currently battling the state of Michigan to get him compensated for the wrongful conviction that stole his freedom.

"I don't have an income right now," said Phillips while showing off his paintings to Fox 2 Detroit. "This is my income."

In the early 1970s, Phillips was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Gregory Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison but always maintained his innocence. “I would rather died in prison than admit to a crime I didn’t do,” Philips said.

Phillips was convicted through an eyewitness account implicating him and a second man, Richard Palombo. In 2010, Palombo admitted that Phillips had no involvement in the murder and that he didn’t even know him. A new investigation was launched in 2014, nearly 20 years later Phillips appealed his murder conviction.

Last March, Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy dropped all charges against Phillips, officially freeing him from prison. “There’s nothing that I can say to bring back 40 years of his life. The system failed him. There’s no question about it,” Worthy said at the time. “This is a true exoneration. Justice is indeed being done today, but there’s nothing that we can do ... to bring back those years of his life.”

Art played a big part in helping maintain his sanity through the sentence. Though he remained optimistic, Phillips admitted that he never truly believed he would be released. To pass the time, he began painting. He pulled inspiration from everywhere: his favorite artists, photos and even tapped into some of the loneliness that he felt in prison. "It was created in a harsh environment. But it goes to show you that beauty can come from something ugly."

Last year, Detroit's Demond Ricks was awarded $1 million for spending 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. As it stands, Phillips is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted former prisoner in U.S. history.

Phillips' artwork will be on display at Michigan's Ferndale's Level One gallery beginning Jan. 18.

See more on his artwork in the video below.

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Gladys Knight Defends Decision To Perform National Anthem At Super Bowl Amid Criticism

Glad Knight says she wants to “give the National Anthem back its voice.” The music legend released a new statement defending her decision to sing  the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, next month, amid criticism from fans.

Several artists turned down offers to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Knight clarified that her choice to sing has nothing to do with Kaepernick, and she doesn't exactly agree with the anthem being "dragged into the debate."

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The 74-year-old singer also noted that she has been on the forefront of social justice issues for much of her career. "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words,” Knight said. “The way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” she continued. “I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Knight isn’t alone in catching heat for joining the Super Bowl lineup. Travis Scott and Big Boi, both of whom will perform with Maroon 5 at halftime, received backlash as well.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming Scott had a meeting with Kaepernick that ended with “mutual respect” and “understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend and Hot 97 DJ, Nessa Diab, denied the report tweeting, “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against @Kaepernick7 PERIOD. #stoplying.”

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Wendy Williams Postpones Show Return Due To “Complications” From Graves’ Disease

Wendy Williams is promising to get back to The Wendy Williams Show by the end of January, after delaying her return two previous times.

Williams announced another extended hiatus from her talk show as she continues recovering from a shoulder injury and recent “complications” brought on by Graves' disease, according to a statement posted to the show’s Instagram account Friday (Jan. 18).

“Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment,” reads the statement. “Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being.

“Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time.”

The statement included a message of support from Debmar-Mercury, the company that syndicates The Wendy Williams Show. “We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready.”

Williams will return with new episodes the week of Jan. 28.

 

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A Note from The Hunter Family As Wendy Williams Hunter previously shared, she fractured her shoulder and has been on the mend. Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment. Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being. Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time. Statement from Debmar-Mercury For over ten years, Wendy has been a vital part of the Debmar-Mercury family. We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready. The Wendy Williams Show will air repeat episodes the week of January 21st and will produce original episodes with a variety of hosts starting the week of January 28th.

A post shared by Wendy Williams (@wendyshow) on Jan 18, 2019 at 9:34am PST

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