Thursday, September 28, 2006

Calling All Artists,Tha Artivist Presents... looking for talent for Oct. 12 debut!!!



Calling all artist types!!! R2C2H2 Tha Artivist looking for talent for the premiere of Tha Artivist Presents…Words, Beats and Pix (Oct. 12, 2006) at the soon to be world famous Hattiloo Theatre!!!

That's right Tha Artivist Presents...Words, Beats and Pix has found a new home at the
Hattiloo TheatreIf you are an artist of any type and/or combination (dancing, singing, acting, rapping, poet, spoken word, musician, visual artist etc.,...) than
I would like to feature you in Tha Artivist Presents… Words, Beats and Pix before an audience receptive to your talents!!!

Please contact R2C2H2 Tha Artivist by phone 901-299-4355 or by e-mail at if interested…Also feel free to send demos, portfolios or a video of what you do to the following address:

R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
P.O. box 751341
Memphis,TN 38175

If you want your materials back please provide S.A.S.E. with the correct amount of postage.

Even if you are not selected for the first show on Oct. 12 your info will be kept on file because Tha Artivist Presents…Words, Beats and Pix!!! will take place every second Thursday of the month at the Hattiloo Theatre on 656 Marshall Ave.

Please check out the following summaries of past Tha Artivist Presents… to get a feel for what the show will be like and remember no one show is ever alike:

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another reason why we should support the Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis,Tn's new and only Black Rep. Theatre!!!

Hattiloo Theatre at 'Home' on Marshall

Photo Photos by Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal
Charlie Giggers Jr. rehearses as Cephus, lead character in "Home," the debut production at Hattiloo Theatre.
Director Ekundayo Bandele enjoys the show as he watches a rehearsal of the play "Home," which opens tonight at the new Hattiloo Theatre on Marshall.

The Article appears courtesy of the Commercial Appeal...Make sure you check out the Hattiloo Theatre's inaugural play "Home" of the historic first season!!!

Curtains open tonight on repertory dream
September 22, 2006
By Christopher Blank

The odor of fresh paint and sawdust is common in theaters a few days before a show opens.

But at the Hattiloo Theatre on Marshall, it's not just the paint on the scenery that's still drying.

When the doors open to the public tonight, the whole building will have that new theater smell -- from the lobby, which will soon double as a late-night lounge serving drinks and music, to the 70-seat theater space.

Executive director Ekundayo Bandele brought his dream of a new black repertory theater to fruition in about nine months.

"After I got my first check from the Jeniam Foundation, that's when I realized this was serious; there had to be follow-through," he said of the frenzied experience of building a theater company from the ground up. "I told my board of directors I don't work for them. I work for every person who comes through that door and gives a dollar to support us."

The opening production is the aptly titled "Home," a 1980 Tony-nominated play by Samm-Art Williams that Bandele describes as "a beautiful love story about being true to self and roots."

The production came together the same way the theater did -- a combination of serendipity and using available resources.

"I originally wanted to do an August Wilson play to open the theater," he said. "But they're very male heavy and we have more female actors.

"All the directors in town were busy this time of year, so I had to direct ('Home'). But it's a good, three-person Southern play with Northern nuances."

Hattiloo, a portmanteau word created from his two daughters' names, has received considerable support along the way.

Playhouse on the Square consulted with Bandele about theater management. The Orpheum donated the stage lighting. Rhodes College donated black curtains. Mr. Lincoln's Costume Shoppe in Overton Square gave him 200 costumes. The electricians and builders reduced their rates. His landlord, an artist, gave him free rent until the theater was up and running.

In all, the theater cost around $100,000, for which Bandele has been the primary fund-raiser.

Hattiloo isn't the first attempt to bring theater to the area of town known as "The Edge," a neighborhood of warehouses between Downtown and Midtown. Just across the street from Hattiloo, a blues club may soon open at the site of the former indie theater Sleeping Cat Studio.

To the east of Hattiloo is Sun Studio, and to the west, a new late-night exotic dance club.

"I don't think our audiences will clash," he said of the vicinity's clientele. "Our hours are different and the important thing is there's going to be more traffic down here."

Earlier this week, Bandele gave a last-minute tour of the theater in construction mode. Electricians and carpenters floated quietly through the building on the voice of Billie Holiday, played over the P.A. system.

"Whenever people come in, they always comment on the energy of the place," Bandele said, downing a quick lunch before the actors' arrival.

Bandele built the "Home" set himself in two days. Carpentry is just one more thing he's picked up in the process of starting a theater.

"I'm learning every day," he said. "My head is so full of information. It's why they made caffeine and NoDoz. On Sunday I just want to sit in a hot tub and read a book."

Ultimately, he plans for the "black repertory" to become a "repertory of color," which would include plays for the growing Memphis Latino and Asian communities.

He has stated that the point of a theater devoted to "high art" plays by minorities is not to promote exclusivity, but to give Memphis residents a wider range of drama currently not well represented by major local theaters.

About Christopher Blank
Classical music, theater and dance writer Christopher Blank began his career in arts journalism at the St. Petersburg Times after a brief stint in professional theater. Before moving to Memphis in 2001, he graduated from Florida State University with a focus on dramatic literature and taught theater in a program for at-risk youth. In 2003, he was awarded a prestigious fellowship to the Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program in Los Angeles. He is an active member of the American Theatre Critics Association. Reach him at 901-529-2305 or by e-mail.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Artivist brings a legacy of artastic expression to Legacy Books and Café in St. Louis with Tha Artivist Presents...Words, Beats and Pics!!!

Tha Artivist Reports...

On August 20, 2006 from 3pm-6pm artastic history was made!!! Once again seeds with potential bountiful fruit were planted with the artist known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist acting as Johnny AppleseedIn a follow up just 21 days after the successful Tha Artivist Presents at MO's in Memphis, Tha Artivist took the message on the road…This time to Legacy Books and Cafe in St. Louis…Different technique, different venue, different mix of performers and artists but same results…The show was a beautiful experience acting as a catalyst for not only self expression, but also self revelation, salvation and appreciation as well!!! The event had the usual but beautiful suspects...R2C2H2 Tha Artivist's visual art offerings and Oscar Donahue's beautiful one of a kind works of art were on display...Mama D, Wilma Potts, Marie Chewe-Elliott and the Sister Nineties Youth movement Yari Yari were encouraging the crowd to think on a higher plane with their visual arts offering for the eye's and mind's sensory palette as well as searing social commentary with a literary consciousness and poetic lyricism...Please check out Sisters Nineties new website at to get a better picture of just how talented these indivivduals really are!!! In addition many surprises were enjoyed as well which included:

As the anxious crowd waited in anticipation...

Ms. Freida Wheaton, fellow Wash U. Alum, corporate lawyer, St. Louis arts patron and all around great woman got on the mic and spoke her mind's eye about the Hurricane Katrina fiasco and the finer points on being a strong, opinionated and liberated woman of color.

The Hip Hop artist Woo Child's powerful song "I'm Guilty" which creatively told the perspective of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy from the viewpoint of Pres. George W. Bush, hit some emotional cords with many in attendance.

St. Louis Hip Hop and Spoken Word Artist Caesar bared his esoterical soul and share his sensitive side on a poetic journey which made rest stops at reflecting on love, good and bad relationships between men and women and coping with love lost…

A Love Supreme: Brother Danny Brown(on drums) and his All Stars (featuring members from his group On The Curb as well as David Jackson the program director of the Legacy Books and Café on "talking drums") was literally off the chain blending and fusing soul and jazz classics with their mid western swingWhat was beautiful about this nearly 30 minute moment of ecstasy was the fact that Mr. Danny Brown although he was very much suited and booted and ready to jam for his folks' 40th Anniversary wedding celebration that day was willing to get funky and sweaty along with his bandmates for Tha Artivist's cause before they did their thang for Danny's folks…On top of that they weren't even paid for this gig!!! Man that's love that goes beyond just doing a favor…I thank the Creator for the Browns for creating such a beautiful, talented and giving son!!! They even let me play my trumpet on Miles Davis' classic composition "All Blues" and I was the hypeman for the free style song "Take A Ride"Be looking out for Tha Artivist Presents documentary and you will see me act a fool doing what it do!!!

Sister Nineties' own Mamma Collette read her hilarious reaction to purchasing and reading the Life of a Video Vixen by the video model and groupie known in the music and entertainment industry as Supa Head.

Many thanks go out to Mr. John Nichs, the owner of Legacy Books and Café for letting us use his beautiful venue as the meeting place for this dynamic event and David Jackson the programming director of Legacy for letting us have the 3 hours worth for artastic expression!!!

Another beautiful aspect of these Artivist outings is the fact that I get to see folks that I haven't sometimes see in years come out and support…

Thanks to the both equally talented and humble team of Bobby Flynn and Loren Lee, my Wash U. Art School buddies, for coming out to see Tha Artivist and his friends do their thang, although their ride from Massachusetts to St. Louis may have been a "bumpy one" in more ways than one…Haven't seen them both in 4 years since our graduation…

Another classmate from Wash U, philosopher and just brilliant all around good guy Cris Nathaniel Gualberto showed up with his beautiful mom all the way from Quincy, Illinois...I haven't seen Cris since May 2002 when we were both packing our things and getting ready to leave campus after graduation…In 2002, Cris joined the Peace Corps and went to Africa for two years...He is currently working on a political campaign in his home state of Illinois…I see a lot of great things in Cris's future so make sure you remember you heard it from Tha Artivist first!!!

D. Hurt's beautiful mom,Debra (Ma D. Hurt), and beautiful sister, Brandy (B. Hurt), came all the way from Hannibal, Mo to catch a glimpse of Tha Artivist Presents…I recently met and befriended these beautiful women at D. Hurt's beautiful wedding ceremony...It was a pleasure to see good folks supporting other good folks in a positive cause…By the way D. Hurt's sister, Brandy, is an amazing artist like her brother…If you don't believe then check out the pic above this paragraph...Remember you heard it from Tha Artivist first!!!

Two music moguls in the making, music promoter extraordinaire Mr. Antonio Rodriguez and Hip Hop artist extraordinaire Woo Child

Tha Artivist and Woo Child, two talented red brothers making it happen one creative accomplishment at a time!

True WU Alum Love: When you got beautiful people like these supporting you, how can you go wrong??? Thanks (from left to right) Bro. Tony Stephens, Bro.Byron Lee, Sis. Meagan Jones, Bro. Woo Child, and Sis. Rochelle Evans for their continued support and love!!! Also let me not forget my brother from a another mother who isn't pictured here, but is here right below...
Bro. T-Mac!!!

Beautiful African Flower and the Black Johnny Appleseed together at last: The Beautiful Chinyere Oteh posing with Tha Artivist…She's also a fellow Wash U. alum and is all about vibrating higher!!!!

Three Classy Brothers from three different classy Ervin Classes…It's all about family here…Antonio Rodriguez (Wash U. and Ervin Class of 2008), R2C2H2 Tha Artivist (Wash U. and Ervin Class of 2002), and Tony Stephens (Wash U. and Ervin Class of 2000) reppin'…Watch out for us in the future…Assembled our talented brothers with the ambition and will to succeed against all odds!!!

Bro. Antonio in the process of recording history…

Civil Rights Movement Pioneer and legendary feminist Ms. Sheila Michaels giving Tha Artivist props for a job well done, but a job which could have been done better if it was done by a woman…It was an honor to have this phenomenal woman in attendance...By the way she also invented "Ms." If you are not sure what I am talking about please click here to find out!!!

Please mark your calendars for the next Tha Artivist Presents…Words, Beats and Pics program which will be Thursday Oct. 12 starting at 8pm at the Hattiloo Theatre, the new and only Black Rep. Theatre in Memphis, Tn!!! Also check out Sister Nineties Literary Group's new official website at

R2C2H2 Tha Artivist Newsletter (Sept. 2006):Vote W.E. A.L.L. B.E. for best e-newsletter for the 2007 Black Web Awards

R2c2h2 Tha ARTIVIST Newsletter Sept. 2006
Artastic Greetings,
This is yours truly just dropping another update…There are a lot of things going on this month as well as the next and things are looking very rewarding for your favorite 'Artivist"…Check it out:

1.)W.E. A.L.L. B.E. and and are nominated for the first annual 2007 Black Web Awards please vote!!!

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. and Tha Artivist's mom's educational website and new author Dwight Fryer's website were nominated for best e-newsletter for knowledge, best website for single parents and best author site respectively for the first annual 2007 Black Web Awards…All three sites were among 500 websites picked out of a total of 2,000 for this honor...Please go and vote W.E. A.L.L. B.E. as best e-newsletter for knowledge and as best website for single parents and as best author website...Anybody and everybody who ever read one, two or all three of these sites and gained insight and inspiration as well as contribute articles, ideas, input and art to either of these sites know that these nominations is as much yours as it is Tha Artivist's ,Tha Artivist's Mom's and Dwight Fryer's…You know who you are so please Vote Early, Vote Often and Vote Now!!! Please spread the word.
*Important Voting Info*

Here is the link to vote as best site for single parents:

Here is the link to vote for W.E. A.L.L. B.E. as best e-newsletter for knowledge and as best author site:

2.) Ms. Callie Herd a.k.a. Tha Artivist's Mom was profiled by well known cultural analyst Stanley Crouch in the New York Daily News!!!

That 's right this is at least one thing that I can agreed with Stanley on...My mom is a great women:

3.)R2C2H2 Tha Artivist makes professional acting debut in "Home" the inaugural play of the first historic season of the newly built Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis Tn's newest Black Rep. Theatre!!!

Wonderful Memphis Commercial Appeal article on the Hattiloo Theatre:

That's right folks your favorite artivist is a thespian!!! The actual run for "Home" starts this Friday Sept. 22 and ends Oct. 15,2006…Although I am the understudy to the lead (played by a very talented Charlie Giggers) I will appear in at least two shows as the lead...By the way that's my picture on the official poster for "Home"…Tha Artivist will keep you posted!!!

4.)Tha Artivist and NIA got an art exhibit, Meeting Miss Conception, at the Tunica Museum, Sept. 1- Oct. 28,2006:

5.)Calling all artist types!!! Artivist looking for talent for the premiere of Tha Artivist Presents…Words, Beats and Pix (Oct. 12, 2006) at the soon to be world famous Hattiloo Theatre!!!

That's right Tha Artivist Presents...Words, Beats and Pix has found a new home at the Hattiloo TheatreIf you are an artist of any type (dancing, singing, acting, rapping, poet, spoken word, musician, visual artist) than I would like to feature you in the Tha Artivist Presents… Words, Beats and Pix before an audience receptive to your talents!!! Please contact Ron Herd II by phone 901-299-4355 or by e-mail at if interested…Also feel free to send demos, portfolios or a video of what you do to the following address:

R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
P.O. box 751341
Memphis,TN 38175

If you want your materials back please provide S.A.S.E. with the correct amount of postage.
Even if you are not selected for the first show on Oct. 12 your info will be kept on file because Tha Artivist Presents…Words, Beats and Pix!!! will take place every second Thursday of the month.

Please check out the following summaries of past Tha Artivist Presents… to get a feel for what the show will be like:

6.)Support W.E. A.L.L. B.E. by spreading and reading the good news...Don't forget to vote!!!

Here are some recent articles from W.E. A.L.L. B.E. a.k.a. The World's Most Known Unknown alternative news site!!! Please feel free to circulate these articles among your family and friends…Also don't forget to Vote W.E. A.L.L. B.E. as the best e-newsletter for the 2006 Black America Web Awards!!! As always we are looking for contributors so e-mail us at with your stories, articles, ideas, pics etc.,…

A.) A summary of Tha Artivist Presents...Words, Beats and Pics!!! @Legacy, Books and Cafe in St. Louis:

B.)Dave Chappelle is the new Bert Williams

C.)Outraged Negro offers his perspective on Dave Chappelle's most controversial skit:

D.)Interesting perspective on Black folks and chicken:

E.)Empowering Africans Agency helps take the fight to illiteracy:

F.)Outraged Negro Offers unique take on Liberty City Seven:

G.)The Tale of Two Katrina Survivors:

H.)On Meeting Gen. Davis : “I Ain’t Colored Like The Rest Of You Fellas, I Am A Different Type.”

I.)Billionaires stealing billions on Katrina Recovery

J.)10th Anniversary of 2Pac's passing special: The Lost Interview

*Also on Saturday Sept. 9, 2006 the Memphis Commercial Appeal re-ran the feature story that my favorite cultural analyst the talented Byron Lee did on me for the St. Louis Limelight newspaper almost a year ago...Special thanks to Mrs.Yvonne Nelson an editor at the Commercial Appeal for letting more people see that beautiful piece of writing and subject matter if I do say so myself...To see the article in its entirety please access the following link:

*Congrats to my beautiful first cuz Andrea for getting married to her soulmate Charles up in Saginaw, Michigan on Saturday Sept. 16, 2006...Please visit their website and wish them well!!!

Artastically yours
R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
If you want to be removed from this mailing list please reply back and type "remove" in the subject heading...Thanks!!!

The Liberty City Seven looks like the Scotsboro Nine, The Chicago Eight and Panther 21 All over again.

Special Commentary by The Outraged Negro.

When I first heard the news of the seven Black muslim terrorists getting arrested for allegedly creating a plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago my first reaction was that it smells like the start of a vicious political campaign season ala Willie Horton a.k.a Bad Nigger style…When I started hearing more and more details about the case it once more validated what I had already known for awhile to be true which is that Amerikkka has always been great at manufacturing her own terrorists

Amerikkka definitely has a Dr. Frankenstein complex where she becomes so scare of her own creation that she tries to kill it instead of trying to fully understand it
…I would even rationalize that the terrorist that Amerikkka creates have a Pyscho ala Norman Bates complex 'cause if you remember the reason why Norman Bates became such an antisocial, psychopathic and pathetic figure was because of the way he was raised by his abusive and domineering mother whom he ends up killing out of "vengeance and love"…Whether Amerikkka trained them at her finest military academies (Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson); produced them through the horrors of the American Holocaust (Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, John Brown, Gabriel Prosser and Robert Charles); trained as well as sold them weaponry (Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein); assist them in the covert overthrow of their country's government (Manuel Noreiga, Fidel Castro) or even let them serve in our military during wartime (Tim McVeigh the Oklahoma City Bomber and John Muhammad the D.C. Beltway Sniper are Persian Gulf War veterans), she has in many ways always bore responsibility in creating a plethora of enemies both foreign and domestic…Even the serial killer and cannibalist Jeffrey Dahmer did a stint in the U.S. Army as well as Albert DeSalvo the alleged Boston Strangler ...Notorious 1920s and 30s hitman and robber Verne Miller was a decorated World War One hero and former sheriff and Monk Eastman leader of one of the largest street gangs in New York at the dawn of the 20th Century served time as a doughboy during World War One and came back a decorated war hero…Let us not forget Japanese naval commander Admiral Yamamoto, the mastermind behind The Pearl Harbor Attacks on Dec. 6, 1941 that forced U.S. into World War Two and an alumnus of Harvard University!!!

As more and more info came out about the alleged Brothers of Islamic Jihad Revolution or the Liberty City Seven as the media calls them, the more I begin to question how much of threat they really were when the Men in Black raided these brothers' home/headquarters/warehouse…There were no weapons, not even one stick of dynamite or a 18 year old cannister of mustard gas was found!!! The media said the Seas of David (actually there name was the Seeds of David) pledged their allegiance to Al Qaeda and also requested $50,000 to raise an Islamic Army to overthrow the United States Government...First of all if you want to wage war with a first rate meglopower war monger republic like Amerikkka you are going to need more than a nice tax refund…$50,000 IS NOT EVEN ENOUGH FOR ROUNDTRIP CARFARE FROM Miami to Chicago in these high gas price days of the Bushwhacked Administration…And forget about it if you definitely are planning to make that trip in a tank…The real Al Qaeda boys Osama and Al Zarqwai have and had access to millions and millions of dollars to wage their holy war…

Another factor was the fact that they were more talking the talk (more mumbling than actually talking) than actually walking the walk …Truth be told if you go to a predominantly Black barbershop in anywhere Amerikkka you would find Black folk of all types fittin' tha description of being Anti-Amerikkkan due to the frankness as well as jiveness of convo you may have in a comfortable and rather 'safe' environment

The fact that these Brothers allegedly start planning their insurrection in December 2005 also shows that these men were in no position to actually initiate a terrorist act let alone a war…Attacks made by pros such as Osama usually took time as in years to plan and prepare…Even the nation's top henchman I mean law man, Alberto Gonzales, said that the Liberty City 7 were not threats, but were caught before they became threats…Even the Chicago Authorities said that the Sears Towers were not in any danger of being attacked…In other words these men based on the facts that I had stated had not the necessary means to reach the necessary ends…These Brothers are basically victims and are being used as sacrificial lambs to justify the abuses and lawlessness being perpetrated by the Bushwhacked Administration to destroy their enemies and control and bully U.S. citizens

The true crime I feel is why is Amerikkka's justice system overflowing with desperate men and women from desperate situations and environments...Liberty City is one of the poorest and most violent urban communities in Amerikkka a.k.a. the land of plenty…Another thing to ponder is the fact that Amerikkka produces conditions that creates rebellious individuals…Whether it is a sign of a "just us" society or the evils of capitalism one thing is for certain …If Amerikkka continues to consumes its future by squandering the gifts and hopes of her best and brightest then it can't really survive as a World Superpower…When there is no sense of justice, but just us then people should be wary that any one of us could be the next victims of this New Age InquisitionWhen you create a world where it is easier for you to get a good quality gun than a good quality education then you are creating a molotov cocktail for disaster…The fact that a FBI agent /informant entered the group and was actually the catalyst for getting the group to pledge Al Qaeda and was the actual person who brought up the idea of weaponry then entrapment not caught red handed is the true law of the land where the one eyed man turns state's evidence!!!

Like the Scottsboro 9 trial of the nineteen thirties and the later Chicago Eight and Panther 21 trials of the 60s and 70s these unfortunate Brothers' trial will set precedents with mixed consequences both tragic and triumphant...Let's hope that these Brothers get a fair chance once in their star crossed lives to tell their story in front of open minded folk, public opinion be damned!!!

Yours truly even if you think Big Brother isn't watching you,
The Outraged Negro
copyright 2005 by r2c2h2
The views of the Outraged Negro does not necessarily reflect those at W.E. A.L.L. B.E. and its contributors…Please feel feel to contact The Outraged Negro by leaving a comment on this post or e-mailing him at
Here are some sites where you can find more info on the Liberty City Seven:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Check out 2Pac's lost 1992 interview...The Thug Life Holy Grail!!!

The MTV Lost 1992 2Pac Interview

Ten years ago today — on September 13, 1996 — hip-hop lost one of its most prolific, inspired and influential voices: Tupac Shakur. It's incredible to imagine how much he achieved in such a short time, which is why the long, involved interview here is such a treasure. It was rare that Pac stood still for long enough to get as in-depth as he did in this 1992 conversation, and when he did, you just wanted to stop and soak it all in. In celebration of Tupac's life, we're rolling out this rarely-aired interview. Enjoy.
[Please note: The interviewer's questions have been paraphrased because they could not be heard clearly on the tape.]

MTV: What's your best Christmas memory?

Tupac Shakur: Well, [one year] I thought we didn't get any gifts for Christmas. I was in Baltimore. We didn't get nothing. There was a knock on my door, and my sister's principal from her school came and had like this charity where they give the turkey to the poor family on the block. We was the poor family. So we got this turkey, I got some cheap boots, we got little cheap trinkets, but on Christmas you want as many trinkets as possible. And so I got a whole bunch of little tiny things. It was cool. We got free cheese, free beans, free butter, free everything — all that little government surplus stuff. ... I just remember when [Christmas] first came, you know, and there's always like a Christmas carol playing around Christmastime on somebody's TV. And I just remember that first feeling, really feeling like, you know, "Dang, this is Christmas." And this is the give, give thing.

MTV: What was Christmas like for you as a child?

Shakur: Man, that's when I used to feel sorriest for my mother, because there was no man there. This was a woman, my mother, who had to make it merry. And there was nothing there. There wasn't even regular dinner, let alone a Christmas dinner. It's so hard to sell that "All we need is each other" speech, especially when your stomach hurts. All we needed was each other and some meat. [He laughs.] But I thought it was so beautiful how she would just be strong and do it, and would never use that time to go, "Your fathers are jerks; they left us here." But they really did; her husbands really did leave her. Our fathers — my father and my sister's father, different fathers — they really did leave us. And you know, they didn't call on Christmas to explain why we didn't get no gifts. They just were with women wherever they were, being big shots, being Santa Claus to someone else's kids. No love taken from my father, God rest his soul, but he'd better not have bought them anything big on Christmas.

MTV: Describe two things: an ideal Christmas and Christmas in the inner city.

Shakur: Christmas to me is as many people as possible happy. So I'm not saying ... peace on the earth and all of that. I'm talking about just like, you know, a house full of my homies, friends, youngsters, old people, OGs, everybody just having fun, just getting your drink on. Everybody is just celebrating, reminiscing, remembering the dead, the people in jail. That's the greatest, that's Christmas. That's what makes it real. Christmas in the inner city? The reality of it is ... I found out my father was dead on Christmas. That was like my present from my cousin. He was like, "Your pops is dead." So that's more reality, you know? That sh-- happens. Death don't wait for nobody. He don't care it's Christmas. "Happy Christmas, but, um, your pops is dead." That's the reality of it.

MTV: What kind of Christmas will this generation have?

Shakur: I think that the MTV generation, in terms of where we are today, has the best imaginable Christmas values. At least we're open-minded, at least we care enough to see the problems and want to have a good Christmas. At least we know there are people who are not having a good Christmas, and it's not just this happy, jolly, white Christmas everywhere. We're saying, "Wait, wait, wait — do they know it's Christmas over there?" I think the MTV generation is the next generation to come and the best generation that we've had thus far. They're starting to see the mistakes; they're starting to try to check it. ... That's not self-serving, that's real.

MTV: How does this record you are doing now reflect the reality of the times today?

Shakur: The track I am doing for the album is called "Ghetto Gospel." I love the whole concept. I bought the first [Special Olympics album, A Very Special Christmas,] when it had Sting on it with "Gabriel's Message." ... I bought it for Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis," no joke. But I heard "Gabriel's Message" by accident and I was so stuck on it. I was like, "That is def! That is everything!" And this is way back — I'm a little youngster. So now when the chance come for me to do it, I wanted to do something that would affect people, not today but tomorrow, whenever you played it — a year from now. And I didn't want it to be just, you know, "Snow and chestnuts rolling down." I didn't want to do a remake. I wanted to do a Christmas carol, and black people really never did Christmas carols. ...

Not our own. ... "Ghetto Gospel" is a reality. It's a reminiscent-type song. Losing your grandparents, how we don't really care about our senior citizens these days. And that's such a Christmas-y thing, 'cause you know your grandma will always give you a present. If she [has to] give you her teeth, she's going to give you a present. "Ghetto Gospel" is like being gospel without being sellout, you know, not being phony. I'm not saying I've changed. I make a lot of mistakes and I say that in the song. But it says "God ain't finished with me yet." [There's] a path for me, and I make mistakes and I might fall, but I'm gonna get up and I keep trying 'cause I believe in it. And that's ghetto, you know, to do what you feel. It's not all pretty, but it's still what I feel. It's still from my soul, my heart. So it's ghetto gospel.

MTV: "Everybody needs a little help relying on yourself." Tell me about that line from the song.

Shakur: This world is — and when I say "this world" I mean it, I don't mean it in an ideal sense. I mean it in every day, every little thing you do — it's such a "Gimme, gimme, gimme." Everybody back off. Everybody's taught that from school. Everywhere. Big business: You wanna be successful? You wanna be like Trump? Gimme, gimme, gimme. Push, push, push, push. Step, step, step. Crush, crush, crush. That's how it all is. And it's like nobody ever stops, you know? I feel like instead of us just being like, "Slavery's bad. Bad whitey," I mean, let's stop that. Everybody's smart enough to know that. We've been slighted and we want ours. And I don't mean by "ours," like 40 acres and a mule, because we're past that. But we need help. I mean for us to be on our own two feet, "us" meaning youth or "us" meaning black people, whatever you want to take it for. For us to be on our own two feet, we do need help because we have been here. We have been a good friend, if you want to make it a relationship type of thing. We have been there, and now we deserve our payback. It's like you got a friend that you don't never look out for you. You know, you dressed up in jewels now — America's got jewels and they got paid and everything, and they lend their money to everybody except us. Everybody needs a little help on their way to being self-reliant.

That's the whole thing about the album, about the Special Olympics. Everybody needs a little something, and they need to be independent. No independent person just grew up and was born independent. You worked and you learned teamwork, and you learned cooperation and unity and struggle, and then you became independent. And we have to teach that and instill that. ... I mean, if this is truly a melting pot in the country where we care about them ... we really need to be like that. ... You need to help black kids, Mexican kids, Korean kids, whatever. But it needs to be real and it needs to be before we all die and then you say, "I made a mistake. I should have gave them some money. We really should have helped these folks." It's gonna be too late. And then that's when you've gotta pay your own karma. And that's what God punishes when God punishes you.

I feel like there's too much money here. Nobody should be hitting the Lotto for $36 million when we got people starving in the streets. That is not idealistic. That's just real. That is just stupid. There is no way Michael Jackson ... or whoever ... should have a million thousand quadruple billion dollars and then there's people starving. There's no way. There's no way that these people should own planes and these [other] people

MTV: What if they earned it?

Shakur: If they earned it — I think that's good and I think that they deserve it. But even if you earned it, you still owe. Look at me. I'm not — I don't have that mega-money. But I feel guilty walking by somebody. I gotta give him some mail. And if I know I got $3,000 in my pocket, I feel it's wrong to give that person a quarter or a dollar. It's wrong. Only you know what you've got in your pocket, and that's wrong, no matter what they do. If they take it and drink it, they take it and drink it. ... We all know how hard it is, and it's not about you being good or bad. Because he don't got don't mean he was bad or don't mean he's a criminal or don't mean he's crazy or a drug addict or none of that. It just means he don't got. And ain't it bad that you got. Can you imagine somebody having $32 million ... and this person has nothing? And you can sleep? These are the type of people who get humanitarian awards — millionaires. How can they be humanitarians? The fact that they're millionaires and there's so many poor people shows how inhumane they are, you know what I'm saying? And that bugs me. I'm not saying that I'm never gonna be rich, but I'm saying there's a struggle, and I think everybody deserves, and I think there's a way to pay these people.

It just takes to be revolutionary, and it takes that to do something out of the ordinary. I think that if we just said, "OK, I got an idea. No more porno buildings — let's build houses." Or "No more polo games. Let's build houses for poor people." OK, I know you rich. I know you got $40 billion, but can you just keep it to one house? You only need one house. And if you only got two kids, can you just keep it to two rooms? I mean, why have 52 rooms when you know there's somebody with no room? It just don't make sense to me. And then these people celebrate Christmas — they got big trees, huge trees, all the little trimmings. Everybody got gifts, and there's somebody starving. And they're having a white Christmas. They're having a great Christmas, eggnog and the whole nine. That's not fair to me.

MTV: What about people who don't have a lot of money, who are just the average guy? In your terms, what do you think about these people helping their fellow man?

Shakur: I think that people, not only the rich people, have responsibility to give. ... Poor, to me, is without, nothing. ... Poor is not just for black folks. I think that rich black people need to give to poor white folks ... and poor Korean people, whatever. For real, it's not like a color thing 'cause that's real bad. ... To me, what's real bad is kids that don't get presents on Christmas. I think adults shouldn't get presents so the kids get all the presents, 'cause ain't that what it's supposed to be about? Even when you do turn 13 and you know there's no Santa Claus. It's still for those years when you thought it wasn't made up, that life was that much more better. These days, like the rhyming says, "We growing up." We grew up B.C. — before crack, you and me. We grew up way before all this crazy stuff happened with the AKs and AIDS and all that. Imagine all of that and no Christmas? All of this that we gotta go through for 365 days a year and there's no Christmas? We know Christmas is relief day. So all of this with no relief day? That's hard. That's a lot of pressure. That's a lot of stress. That makes you go crazy. So I don't ... I forgot the question.

MTV: You were talking about the unevenness, saying that wealthy people should be helping the others.

Shakur: OK, yeah. So to make it even — if you got 50 bucks, you can give somebody five bucks. It's been times I gave to these little kids — they was at the gas station. It impressed me that them little kids was like 14 and they're pumping people's gas instead of taking the money like I would think — that's the easy way — they're pumping people's gas. And you know people was cruel. They'll give you a quarter after watching you inhale vapors and everything. They'll give you a quarter for pumping gas. And I gave them little kids like fifty bucks. They was like, "Thank you!" But that teaches them that when you work hard and be responsible, there's a reward for that. And I think that just like I did that, corporations can do that, and on a bigger level. Imagine if a corporation just sent a representative and said, "Just go hang out in that playground, and ... whatever kid is the coolest and shares the ball or lets the most people play basketball, we're gonna give them a scholarship." That would bring hope. There's no hope, and there's not going to be too many more Christmases without hope. ... There's not going to be too many more days without hope. Because if there's hopelessness, there's revolution and there's change. If there's change, somebody is going to end up on the bottom. And that doesn't have to happen. It doesn't have to be about we on bottom, you on top all the time. It can be just spread.

MTV: What can the average person do to spread the same idea of helping people? What can somebody who doesn't have 50 bucks or own a corporation do? Bring it down to the average person.

Shakur: I would love to just drop it down for them, but that's not my job to tell people how to. It's up to you. Just like my mind went, "OK, this is how I can help by doing this all," their mind has to go, "Well, this is how I can help." You have to decide. Each person has to decide. What is it that you can do to help? Because [there] is something you can do. Everybody, there is something you can do. Whether you're behind a switchboard, or behind a camera or behind a cash register, there's something you can do and you do it. I can't even see the possibilities. It's limitless ... what we can do. [Naming one thing ] would just limit. And I know what you want me to say, but I can't.

MTV: How do your lyrics reflect what you're trying to say?

Shakur: Just by using Jess, the guy I did the duet with — he was a youngster. Christmas to me is about giving to the youngsters, because the older people, like my age — you know, 20s, teenagers — they think they know it all, I think I know it all, and we don't see Christmas the same. Christmas is just party time. ... My last 21 Christmases, they were all like eitherAlign Center something harsh or something trippy. And so I felt like this Christmas song, I wanted it to be something Jess could look back [on] in 10 years and go, "That's when it started. That's when I did it. I did that with Tupac. I didn't even wanna go, and that's when it started." And I could do that. Whatever mistakes I make in the future, I can say I did that. I put Jess' voice on that song. He did it, you know? He did it. He said it. He told his part of it. And people can hear him. I know this song is going to go places that my music never could go. And it's gonna give me a chance to just say how I feel, just like I fell onto Sting, somebody's going to fall onto me and hear my music just like I heard his, and they're gonna feel what I felt. It's gonna knock down a lot of barriers, and that's cool. That's what it's all about. That's Christmas.

Plus I know for actual fact that this song came from my heart, and I know that it can bring joy to another person. And that's good. I feel like I did my part. And this Christmas I'll be happier, 'cause I know I got something out there. I did something. I contributed. 'Cause really, all BS aside, it all comes down to [the fact that] we got to survive. I mean, even warriors put their spears down on Sundays. We got to survive here in this country 'cause I'm not going back to Africa. We've got to survive here, and for us to survive here — white folks, black folks, Korean folks, Mexican folks, Puerto Ricans — we gotta understand each other. We got to take a bigger chance. And when I say Americans, people think I'm talking about Uncle Sam, actually Uncle Sam with the gray hair and the flag. I mean you! You — the guy, the mechanic, whoever — you. You need to do something. You need to check yourself and see how racist you are.

It's real. I even do it myself sometimes. I was on the plane the other day and this little tiny cute white girl came up to me and said she loved my music. And when she passed me, I didn't think this could be one of my fans. It didn't even enter my head. When the little girl passed me ... and she said it, it just checked me. It made me go, "OK, you're taking yourself too seriously." Because what would you say to that little girl? Would you tell her there's no room for her in the new world? And there is, there's got to be. You gotta make room, 'cause this little girl was so cute. She's like, "I like your music." The whole reason I got signed to Interscope was because Ted Field's little daughter liked my music. ... That baffles me. That's the power of children. That's innocence at its personification, goodness at its personification. That's what I want to be about. It clicks for me. That's "Ghetto Gospel." That's what we need to harvest and nurture so that it can grow and blossom. That's the only chance we have is through the creativity and imagination of our youth.

MTV: What else can you tell us about "Ghetto Gospel."

Shakur: Musically, this is different than anything I ever did. This is the first time I ever said I wanted to build a song on feelings. I took a song called "Crossroads" from Tracy Chapman — we sampled the main riff, the melody, from that. Tracy Chapman used to move me; she is an idol. I know that's going to cause mass hysteria in the 'hood, but she is. I think she's beautiful, I think she's deep, I think she has a lot to say, and I think she has a lot of soul in her music. I wanted to bring that soul to "Ghetto Gospel," that song is gospel to me. A lot of her music is, so that was the basis of the song. ... Then I got Jesse to rap on it because, to me, he represents the young black male of tomorrow. He's more advanced than I was at that age. He's my peer now, but he's six years younger than me. That shows how far we've come, and how bad the world is.

It's not only the ozone layer that's getting thin, it's the puberty layer that's getting thin. People are growing up so fast because there's cable everywhere. The movies are showing everything, so we're growing up fast. Before, we didn't start getting information until 10; now you're 1 year old and you're seeing dudes getting blown away — in TV, real life, whatever. You're smelling crack smoke firsthand, so you know what that is. And before, it would never come up. So I feel like if you live in the outer city, experience is a mother, and you don't have that buffer. We don't have that. Because parents in the inner city know what it's like to be real, because you have no choice. How can you not say "poor" when you don't have anything?

MTV: How familiar are you with the Special Olympics? Do you know anyone who is mentally disabled?

Shakur: My cousin Greg. ... And I guess my family, we always made it like the funny thing. But to me, even as a little kid, watching him was really traumatizing. And I always thought, "Well, what was it that he did?" 'Cause he was born that way. "What was it that he did that made God do that?" That's what I used to think. I used to tell that to my mother, and my mother used to say, "What did you do to make God do you this way?" Because my mom was like, "People are thinking that they're all that. What if people that are mentally retarded see the world clearer than we do?" And that this world is so retarded that that's the way you gotta deal with it. And then when she said it like that, it made me go like, "When things do change, what if these were the people that knew all along how it was gonna run?" So you never know. It's like we just can't communicate. Just as if they speak Spanish and I speak English. ... But I find it's not something you look down on. You don't start going, "Can you hear me?" 'cause I think my cousin heard me. I would talk to him as if he could hear me and understand me, and that's how we had a relationship. And when I did it like that it made me feel better, and it made me feel as though I was in contact with an angel, because I feel as though those people are touched. God works in mysterious ways. He does nothing spitefully. So those people must have roadmaps to heaven, you know what I'm saying? Something.

MTV: Have you made any special connections with your cousin?

Shakur: No, but I got another. I messed that one up, my relationship with my cousin. I mean, I did as good as I could, but I was young and I didn't understand. Now I have a chance to be around my little stepbrother who has Down Syndrome. And he has a problem feeling confident around people. He'll feel like he's the outsider. I see exactly how he feels and I can help him to not feel that way because everybody now looks to me ... so I can put the attention on him in a cool way. Like, "Can I get your autograph?" "Yeah, but first you gotta get my little brother's autograph." That's one thing. And now I can see it better and I feel like that's my thing. I learned from that, and my karma is to make it so he never feels like that's something he's sliding against. I call him special. "You're special that you can do this." He's big. It's always — it's gifts.

MTV: What do you think the Special Olympics does that is important?

Shakur: For me, rapping [is] just my chance to talk and express things. It helps me to deal with a lot of things, helps me to deal with my pain. And I can imagine how it must feel to go through your life always fighting, and being in competition with all these people and suddenly you can get rewards for that. Let them be reliant to stand on their own two feet and do what they got to do and it puts them in competition. They win. They really get to struggle and strive. And they win as opposed to all through their life they've got to struggle and strive and they never get a reward for it. Nobody ever says, you know, "You did a hell of a job." Just you getting up is a hell of a job, 'cause I got legs, two feet, everything, and it takes me three hours to get up and I still don't want to be up. And I see people at eight o'clock in the morning, wheeling down the street. You know, "You need some help?" "No, I don't need no help. Thank you." And that to me, that's def. That's all that. That's the struggle. I think the Special Olympics nurtures that sense of independence, and that sense of respect and dignity. Just to keep your head up and put your chest out. I'm sure they feel like that. Just like any Olympian, you know?

MTV: Is that a lesson that could be learned for those in the inner city who are downtrodden? Perhaps you can make the connection?

Shakur: Well, in the outer city — like I said it's the outer city because we're always left out — I think if there were more programs ... That's part of like I was saying, of things that we need to do. PAL, the Police Athletic League thing, I always heard about it. I've yet to see one of these leagues. Maybe it's just my streets are just too bad, that the blocks are not clean enough for these people, but we don't have that. ... If there was, we wouldn't have so many crooks, because the only people who are in the ghetto, the outer city, these days nurturing those kids are the criminals. So it's no wonder that they come up as criminals. Those are the role models. And I don't down them because they are there. At least they are there. At least whatever they did wrong, they are role models. They giving that back and nobody else is doing it. Nobody. Even these big, big black celebrities.

You know Michael Jordan? I never seen Michael Jordan in the 'hood. Let's see Jordan come down to the inner city, just a parking lot, and just shoot ball with the kids. I bet you that would change their life. Instead of going to some suburban PAL unit, shooting ball with all the — excuse me, but the little white kids that always have heroes to shoot ball with. They got dad to shoot ball with, grandpa to shoot ball with, uncles to shoot ball with, godfathers to shoot ball with, their friends, their neighbors to shoot ball with. Everybody got a basketball court in their neighborhood. What about the ones that [have] only one basketball court in the whole neighborhood and don't nobody — I still don't know how to play basketball to this day, 'cause instead of somebody teaching me, everybody used to laugh at me. And instead of me staying there being like, "Teach me! Teach me!" I just learned to be like "F--- it. I won't learn." And that's real. I know nothing about sports because I had no kind of role model to teach me. And it's not like people can only do sports, but like with the Special Olympics, it gives you a chance to be involved, not watch somebody fight for you but for you to actually go out there and to fight and to win. It gives you a chance to be a winner. Even when you lose, you're still a winner because you was in it.

MTV: How can you be sure that the money from your song will go to the right people?

Shakur: I would hope that the money gets spent wisely. I would hope that just by me saying little things they'll put it [in the right place]. Because it's so easy to give money to a charity that's all set up, but it's so hard to go, "OK, we made this money and we have Tupac in it. He's a deep down, outer-city brother. Why don't we take this money and actually do a celebrity basketball game in the 'hood." Not one where the MTV cameras got to come, but one by itself. Do it once a month, then you let the kids play too if they got, I don't know, an "A" on their report cards. That's not up to me to think about. That's up to the folks who can do that. I could do a little bit, but I can hint that others can do so much more, Jordan, Magic, all these basketball players, if they just played basketball once in the true 'hood — and by 'hood I don't mean South Central. Everybody in the hood is not just South Central or Harlem or Brooklyn. It's Oakland, Houston, Miami, Richmond, Virginia. There's our black people there, it's our kids there. Not just black, but there are kids there that see nobody. If just one of us comes out there, one of us meaning someone in the entertainment industry, they'd be so blown over. It's not supposed to be like that, we're just people, but they want to pretend like we're superstars and we're not. Take away that superstar image and come on down.

MTV: You've said in your lyrics that you don't want to be a role model.

Shakur: I say I don't want to be a role model in the song, because if I let somebody put the role-model label on me, that limits me. Because look at those words, "role" and "model." Both of those are fake words, to play a role and to model, that's fake. I'm real. Being real, I drink, I hang out, I party — I do things that a 21-year-old does. And even worse, because I didn't have a childhood, I'm reliving my childhood. I live life to its fullest, I make mistakes, but I do some stuff that some college kids wouldn't do, because I live from my heart. I have fun. I don't want to be a role model, I just want to be real. I set my goals, take control, drink out of my own bottle. I'm not a lush or crazy, but I'm responsible, I handle my own business, and I mind my own business, and I do my own thing. That's how it is. If anyone can learn from that, they should. If anybody gets inspired by that, they should. If anyone has any advice on how I should change, they can keep it. [He laughs.] I like that.

MTV: What's wrong with being a role model?

Shakur: Role model, that's the word that they make. In the outer city, we don't have it. We had Tyson, Tyson was the perfect outer-city hero because he was always on the edge, they always wanted to make him a different type of person. But he would never be that, he would always be on the edge, and they hated him for that, they punished him because he never legitimized himself. He hung in clubs. He was the only person I knew that had millions that hung around with rappers. The only black person I know that made it to that millionaire status and then treated rappers with dignity. ... Every entertainment person who has money looks at rappers as ignorant people with mics, holding our jocks, wearing Kangols and big gold chains. Mike Tyson was the only person I can remember being a millionaire and a real brother. And he was my hero, and I want to be like that. And I want more people like that.

I feel like we're starting to get more of that now. And even the ones who left us are coming back. That's cool ... that's the type of stuff that we need to see. When I heard about that, it made me so hype, there's going to be some kind of change, we have a chance — somebody cares about us. It's like we don't have anybody up there to help pull us up. Everybody's struggling to get up there, so we can pull somebody up. But once anybody gets up there, they just leave the ropes. A lot more of us can come up there if we can just get one greedy person to throw the rope back over so some more people can come. But as soon as they get up there, there's this welcoming committee, the big society. They tell them, "The first thing you do, now that you're up here, is cut the rope and get away from the wall." So they all act like they can't see us, but we are here. And if they bring their tight, greedy behinds back to the wall and look over they'll see us. Just throw the rope back over, that's all.