In 1994, roughly two years before his death, Tupac Shakur sat down for an in-depth interview with Entertainment Weekly writer Benjamin Svetkey. PBS debuted the previously unheard footage on its latest episode of "Blank on Blank," adding an animated video to the recording, where Pac opens up about the media and fame, along with a chilling prediction of how he would be mourned.
Shakur accidentally forecasts his own death, when Svetkey asks where he would like to be in 15 years. "Best case [scenario]? In a cemetery," he says. "Not in a cemetery--sprinkled in ashes smoked up by my homies."
He then backtracks, saying, "I mean, that's the worst case! Best case [scenario], multimillionaire, owning all of this s---!"
Next, the legendary rap figure says he would've been hailed as a John Wayne character who pulled himself up from "welfare" and "poverty," if he were white. Instead, he feels "like a tragic hero in a Shakespeare play."
Perhaps the most telling of the intrepid lyricist's struggles were his confessions on fame, friendship, and the media. "They believe in the machine, not Tupac no more," he explains. "They don't even know me, they just know about the machine."
"You mean the press machine?" Svetkey asks, prompting even more candor. "Everybody wants to use me -- everybody," Pac replied. "From this level to the street level. I'm used on every level. I have no friends, I have no resting place, I never sleep. I never close my eyes, it's horrible."
He then delves into rape allegations that ultimately put him behind bars. The interview was taped before he was convicted of sexual assault later in the year, and the slain MC never felt that he was given a proper shot in the press. "Can you imagine what it's like … for them to say that I raped a woman? And for the whole world to actually be entertained [by the] thought that you raped a woman? That's hell."
Shakur also tackles how his "Thug Life" persona made him a public target, stating that the press "made" him into a "monster," and admits to being "crushed" by Vice President Dan Quayle's protest against his music.
In short, Shakur felt he was unfairly crowned a role model, and therefore held to a unrealistic standard. "I see myself as real," he says. "If I was the president I would have a responsibility because people put me there, nobody put me here. They just buy my records. They wouldn't buy my records if my records wasn't good. I'm being who I am in the record."
Shakur died in Sept. 13, 1996, after a hail of gunfire pierced the vehicle he was in outside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
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(Photo by Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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