TUPAC Shakur would still be alive today if he hadn’t made two fatal mistakes on the night he was shot 27 years ago today, his security enforcer former gangster Mob James has revealed.
The rap icon had become “cocky” and obsessed with wanting to be a “badass” street gangster and follow in the footsteps of Death Row Records label boss Suge Knight, James, who was in Las Vegas with Tupac the night of the shooting, told The U.S. Sun.
In an exclusive interview to mark the anniversary of the infamous shooting, James has opened up about the events which lead to Compton Crip Orlando Anderson, intent on revenge after being beaten up by Tupac and Suge, assassinating the pair as they drove down the Strip on September 7, 1996.
James, who now uses his given name James McDonald, said the day of the shooting was just a “normal day” for Tupac, who may have underestimated the threat he faced.
“Me and my homies met up with them [Tupac and Suge] to go over crowd stuff and have preparation because we knew Southside Crips were in Vegas,” he said.
“We talked about everyone being searched and even women’s purses or if any of our guys knew they were connected to the Crips.
“We prepared for a big shebang and shootout. If anyone recognized a Compton Crip, we had to be ready.
“Tupac was just normal. Everyone was just typical, smoking weed and drinking Hennessy, and then, they went back to their hotel, got dressed ready for the fight
“To Tupac, it was all a normal day.”
The hip-hop star’s ego meant that he and his security became complacent, even though they knew that there was a credible threat to their lives
James is haunted that he was separated from ‘Pac and Suge, as he was guarding the 662 Club prepping for Tupac’s show, while the pair beat up Anderson in the MGM casino after the Mike Tyson fight.
James, handpicked by Suge to oversee Death Row’s security detail in the ’90s, believes Tupac would have lived had he been at his side.
He said: “Tupac would still be alive if they would’ve conducted business the way they were supposed to. He should have left Orlando alone.
“Orlando wasn’t going to do anything beforehand. The shooting happened because my people jumped on Orlando and after Orlando was like, ‘F*** it. It had to go that way.’
“Tupac would still be alive if they would’ve conducted business the way they were supposed to.”
“Orlando didn’t have a choice, because he couldn’t go back to Compton in front of his homeboys and they clown on him about Tupac going off on him.
“That was the gang culture, Orlando was about that life.
“I said all the time, we dropped the ball because Tupac shouldn’t have never been in that situation. This is gang-on-gang in Compton. He [Tupac] never lived that life.”
He added: “If I was at the MGM that day, he would’ve never walked over there and touched that boy … never.
“We were supposed to do that. He wasn’t getting paid to be a gangbanger, he was an artist.”
James, who has dropped the name Mob because he has turned his life around to help kids steer away from US gang life with food parcels and educational needs, is upset at how poor Tupac’s protection was.
CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Before the Vegas trip, gang members on both sides knew that bounties were put on the heads of certain names and superstars like Tupac and Biggie.
“In our neighborhood, if we go and do something to another neighborhood, we prepare ourselves for retaliation. They didn’t do that,” he said.
“Everybody was comfortable. Everybody was drinking, everybody was high, and they got caught off guard.
“They didn’t think that boy [Anderson] was going to do that. And they knew they should have been ready for the repercussions of what just happened.
“And they didn’t do that. And Tupac lost his life because of it.”
‘WAR WAS ON’
Another regret is that Tupac and Suge were warned that Anderson and other Crips were hunting for them after the MGM fight, even stopping to stake out the 662 Club where Tupac was lined up to perform.
“Before we went to Vegas the war was already on. They kept telling everyone they were coming,” James said.
“I was prepared and they came up for 662 Club, but they couldn’t act because of police outside the club for the show. So they drove off.
“I called and told them [Suge and Tupac] they were out looking for them, but they were doing their thing. I was worried. But they always felt they had it and were on top of the world after what they did to Orlando.”
James, 58, grew close to Tupac when he signed to Death Row after Suge paid $3m bail and appeal fees for his two convictions of first-degree sexual abuse in the fall of 1995.
Tupac thrived in the studio working alongside Dr Dre, but his once “calm and humble” demeanor disappeared as he tried to become more like the LA Bloods working with Suge and Death Row Records.
James, 58, admits: “My whole issue was Tupac was he was trying to be from my neighborhood and I didn’t want that.
“I felt ‘You ain’t from my neighborhood. You haven’t done the things that we did in our neighborhood. Your money can’t buy your way in’.
“From day one Tupac felt he had to prove to my neighborhood that he was down.
“He proved to them that he was willing to do this or that.
“So that’s how he met his demise by trying to prove and trying to fit into a situation that he wasn’t ready for.”
James now is working to help youngsters stay away from street violence and gang communities across California and the US. He has a hit podcast Still Bombing, which promotes “helping people”, and works with youth benefit crypto currency Bejesus.
“A lot of people are shocked about the gangs in LA and across the world still,” he said.
“But I believe I have made a difference. I have helped a lot of people. One guy reached out and said ‘I didn’t bury my son because of you’. His son stopped hanging out with the gangs and graduated with high school.
“I go places and talk to people and show these kids what they don’t want to do in life and where you are going to end up if you continue to live the life that you live.
“People talk to me on the phone to help their kids… I lived that life, doing everything from A to Z being a gang member. I wouldn’t wish that on nobody’s kids.”
James spoke out following a new twist in the Tupac murder investigation in which a property belonging to suspect Keefe D was searched and sources told The U.S. Sun charges are now imminent in the case.