“Now let me welcome everybody to the wild wild Souf.
Peace my beautiful brothers and sisters. I know y’all haven’t heard from ole Malachi in a while, but let’s get one thing understood: the wheels are always in motion, baby. I hope y’all missed me like I missed y’all. I’m back with another episode of “Malachi’s What Ifs”.
For those who not in the know, this is where I, Malachi Jones… completely stan out and basically make fan fiction about different events in hip-hop history having alternate storylines and possibilities. It’s like one of those “choose your story” Goosebumps books… but with hip-hop.
So last time, we spoke about the possibility that was Lil’ Wayne signing to Jay-Z back in ‘05. This time we are going to talk about a man whose work ethic and persona was a huge inspiration for Weezy F. Baby, and well… everybody, else: Mr. Tupac Shakur. With his birthday recently passing and a trailer for the bioflick “All Eyez on Me” premiering, Tupac has been welcomed back into the ever changing conscious of the public.
But let’s be honest, here… it’s never not a good time to speak on Shakur’s music and legacy as far as hip-hop is concerned. He was that complex of a character. His background, music poetry, film, personal life and death are all so multilayered. Different aspects to be considered, different perspectives to view them in. Tupac was quite possibly the most polarizing, celebrated, and misunderstood hip-hop star ever. Because I loved ‘Pacs spirit: the essence of what he stood for, I’ve often tried to consider him not only reaching his potential commercially and artistically, but also reaching peace.
For this segment of Malachi’s What If’s I ask: What if 2Pac would have signed with Organized Noize instead of Death Row?
I know, I know… that threw you for a loop, right? But listen… it’s not that unbelievable.Last year, I remember vividly articles about some of ‘Pacs letters being leaked. In those letters, he spoke of a group called “One Nation” where Outkast was named as one of the collaborators. Now, in the letter, Pac mentioned All Eyez on Me being 5x platinum, so that would mean this letter is post Death Row ‘Pac.
‘Pacs stay at Death Row may be one of the darkest times of his legacy. His music, while reaching new heights, shed the gentle Pac we knew from “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and “Keep Ya Head up”. Pac was rather fully emerged into what the media had portrayed him to be all along, a violent, angry Black man, or “thug” as this was becoming the media’s new way to say “nigger” without being shamed. A lot of people, myself included, feel as if this was due to the environment Death Row provided. Suge Knight not only encouraged a gangsta lifestyle, he embodied it. Death Row was infamous for their intimidation tactics in the music industry as well as the streets.
Taking a man like Tupac, who was so passionate, who understandably felt betrayed by everybody, and putting him in the midst of such a hostile environment was a recipe for disaster. To ‘Pacs credit (or discredit), he knew exactly what he was doing. Documentaries have since released with those closest to ‘Pac claiming that he knew he “sold his soul” to Suge, but it was his only way out.
Now, let’s crank up that Delorean (or hot tub time machine, whatever you prefer) and set the time back to 1994. What if say… LA Reid approached Tupac while he was in prison. What if he was willing to match Suge’s offer to pay ‘Pas bail and get him out of his record contract. True, it would have been a gamble, but the aforementioned sales of “All Eyez On Me” proved it to be a smart one.
What if Tupac would’ve risen to be the biggest star in the game under the tutelage of Organized Noize, and Dungeon Family as opposed to Death Row? At the time of ‘Pacs release (95) was in between the 1994 release date of ‘Kast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and 1996’s ATLiens. That time saw a significant shift in the group’s experimentation with not only sound, but content as well.
They were making a transition from being the kids from Atlanta, who’s songs were heavily influenced by pimp and playa culture (hence the debut title), who’s rhymes still had a social quality even in the midst of youthful hedonism, to being something else entirely. It was at this time, another one of hip-hop’s greatest Gemini’s, Andre 3000, was going through a “bohemian” phase as some call it. He was learning to be limitless in both his reflection and expression.
Could you imagine the insights Big Boi and Dre would have shared with ‘Pac and vice versa? Not to mention Goodie Mob’s influence… we would have seen a Tupac who was just as passionate, redirecting his passions, joys, frustrations and commentary in a whole nother (possibly healthier way).
As far as the musical implications… c’mon. ‘Pac with Organized Noize??? Look, I respect Dr. Dre for his introduction of G-Funk, but not too many people seeing the combination that is Organized Noize. Still fuzzy? Picture ‘Pacs signature, bouncy flows on tracks like “Elevators”… that doesn’t fit to y’all?!?!?
Alright, let me calm down. Point is, ‘Pac would’ve been given a whole new musical pallet. Instead of a style that was heavily based in the G Funk, gangsta era of west coast rap, he would have probably stretched his lyrical and artistic abilities to fit a more spaced out, experimental vibe the Dungeon would have provided. How epic would a ‘Pac verse been on “Cell Therapy” or “Black Ice” or even “Aquemini”?
Finally, ‘Pac probably would’ve been screaming “dirty south” as opposed to “west side”. The more laid back and focused demeanor of the Southern hip-hop didn’t include gang culture. This would’ve made it harder for the media to spin an “East Coast vs. Down South” rivalry. It is the combination of the volatile environment of Death Row and the media’s bloodthirst for a coastal war, that many would say played a part in the murders of both ‘Pac and Biggie. A simple change of allegiance on ‘Pacs part could have saved both of their lives.
Hindsight is often 20/20, and nothing makes us utilize it more than tragedy. If we would’ve done THIS differently than THAT wouldn’t have happened. While ‘Pacs status is that of a legend, it’s still nice to think of a scenario where he didn’t have to be so angry, die so young for that to be. Thoughts? Opinions? Agree? Disagree? Well that’s what the comments section is for.