Were he alive Tupac Amaru Shakur (aka 2Pac), who was fatally shot in Las Vegas in September 1996, the phenomenally popular rapper & actor would be celebrating his 40th birthday today, June 16th, 2011. At the Rockit Room in San Francisco tonight Sellassie and a bunch of other local hip-hop artists will celebrate the event in a concert honoring the slain local rap hero who, while born in Harlem & raised in both NYC and Baltimore before relocating West in the late 80's, began his rap career in the Bay Area. And many others will be thinking of Tupac Shakur today too, from the millions of diehard 2Pac fans all over the world, to family and friends including his former crew members in Digital Underground; the legendary Bay Area hip-hop crew that Shakur came to fame in. 2Pac joined Digital Underground, at a young age, first as a roadie and backup dancer and then as a rapper which, in turn, helped kick start his extremely successful, illustrious, and ultimately tragic solo career.
This week I caught up with both Digital Underground's Jimi "Chopmaster J" Dright, who along with Shock G and Kenny K co-founded the group in 1987, and with Money B, who along with DU's DJ Fuze also formed the side-project Raw Fusion, to ask them each about Tupac. After all it was their ever-talented & most unique P Funk-fueled hip-hop crew, that took Pac under their wing and into their fold when he was a mere bright young teenager from the Marin City projects with a knack for writing poetry.