I found the interview below quite by accident, while I was searching for something else entirely (and, thanks to Horace Walpole, the 18th-century historian and novelist, English has a beautiful word for this meeting of randomness and fortunate accident: serendipity). I don’t usually have the patience to read very, VERY long stories, but this one got me hooked. I don’t really know why. Maybe because it’s very sincere. Or because it felt strangely warm, like a fuzzy wool sweater. Or because it’s so candid… frank… straightforward. Or maybe because I just happen to like Tupac (and I happen to like him mostly because of this). I don’t really know why.
It’s an interview where Keisha Morris (Tupac Shakur’s ex-wife) speaks out about her love for the King of Rap.
The two met in N.Y. in the summer of 1994, while Keisha was attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice and working as a camp counselor. 2Pac had already released his first two albums, 2Pacalypse Now and Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., and had appeared in the movies Juice and Poetic Justice. He was recording Me Against the World and was also in the middle of major legal drama, as he was facing two different trials. He was later found guilty and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, of which he did 10 months.
Morris was immediately thrown into the hectic life of one of rap’s most controversial new stars. She married ’Pac while he was behind bars at N.Y.’s Clinton Correctional Facility; their union was annulled 10 months later. The two remained in contact up until days before ’Pac’s September 1996 murder in Las Vegas.
He had just turned 25.
As an educator with a master’s degree and a mother of two, the 40-year-old New York City woman now feels estranged from the intense life she shared with ’Pac back when she was 20 and he was 21.
But her heart still remebers him.
The conspiracy theorists who claim Pac staged his death are right. He is alive and kicking. At the end of the day, in Keisha’s heart, he is still rapping. Writing rhymes. Rocking his larger-than-life smile. Sipping Hennessy. Doing powerful interviews, like this one. Being the poet of the streets. And a thug with a heart of gold.
I felt so serene and at peace with myself while reading this. And I kept smiling and smiling the whole time. Again… I don’t really know why. 🙂
It’s almost like bringing someone back from the dead, just for one magical moment. Rest In Perfection, ‘Pac.
The Interview (by Jamie Foster Brown)
Keisha Morris w/ Sister 2 Sister
Tupac’s only wife finally opens up to tell why they married, how long it lasted, why no conjugal visits, and why they parted. Boy, life is funny ain’t it? Who would have thought I, Jamie Foster Brown would suddenly get a phone call from Keisha Morris-Shakur late one Thursday night. “Hi, Jamie. This is Keisha, Tupac’s wife.” I was shocked. I hadn’t heard from her in almost two years – since I visited her and her husband Tupac Shakur in Dannemora where Tupac was imprisoned back in the summer of 1995.
After Tupac’s death, I had tried to reach her, but she wasn’t talking to anyone. She told me that after he was killed, everybody was looking for her. She said she would leave her apartment building and walk right by camera crews from Rolonda’s show, Geraldo’s, Hard Copy, etc. She laughed. The press would ask the guard who and where was Keisha Shakur and the guard would say, “Oh she just left.” She would walk right past them–they didn’t even know what she looked like and the guard had been told not to tell them.
But now she’s ready to talk and Sister 2 Sister is the golden child. She wants to deposit her treasured memories of Tupac with us. They’re fragile. And she has to make sure they’re in the right hands. This is part one of a two part series. The interview was so darnn interesting, it was hard cutting down. It’s almost like being “reading” Toms instead of peeping Toms. If you liked Tupac, or even if you didn’t, you can’t resist this story. I’ll tell you more next issue, but right now, grab a cup of coffee or beer if you’re an adult, or a soda if you’re not and get down with this interview. It is the joint.
Sister 2 Sister: Keisha, how do you spell your name?
Keisha Morris: Keisha Morris-Shakur.
So you still use Shakur?
It’s my option to have the hyphenated name.
Okay. Keisha how old are you?
You’re a baby! A lot of people don’t know who you are? It’s our job–here at my home chilling on a Saturday morning–to find out. What we want to do today is let people know what it was like for Tupac during the time he was away in Dannemora prison, and when he got shot. Also, what was it like being married to him? Who is this woman he chose out of all the women he knew in the world? This is the one woman he chose to share his life with, so Keisha, we are going to document things. Let’s start with how you first met him.
I first met him in June of 1994. We were both at a club (the old Chippendale’s club, now called the “Capitolin New York.”) It was a Father’s Day dance. A lot of people were there. I saw Wesley Snipes, Pac–it was a really nice vibe. I saw Tupac and when I saw him I was with my girlfriend, Jamie, and I told her, “Hold my bag. I’m going to dance with Tupac.”
How did you know you were going to dance with Tupac?
Because I knew. [Laughing] I went over. We were dancing off Wu-Tang’s song, “C.R.E.A.M.”
Wait a minute. How did you ask him to dance?
Oh I just grabbed him and said, “Come on let’s go!” [Laughing] We were dancing and he was singing the words to “C.R.E.A.M.” and I told him, “That’s not your song. Why are you singing that?” He was laughing and then another woman came over. She was trying to get his attention and everything, so I just walked away. I saw him after everyone was partying later on that night and I explained to him, “You have supporters out here, you know. I know you’re going through a difficult time and I wish everything well. I feel you were put in a bad situation.”
What was the difficult time?
He was going through the court. The New York trial was about to start. The accusation of the rape. [Tupac was jailed for touching a woman on her behind. He was later imprisoned until his 3 million dollar bail was raised.] He said, “Thank you, I appreciate it.” He looked like he wanted to talk, but I just walked away. I left. I went home. That was just that. I saw him a month later at the Tunnel nightclub and I saw that he was coming over towards me. I said, “I know he’s not coming over here.”
He remembered you?
He remembered who I was and he said, “Weren’t you the girl that had on the black dress and you spoke to me for like five minutes? I’ve been looking for you for a month.”
What did that dress look like?
It was black, kind of like that dress from [the movie] Indecent Proposal. He said, “I was like looking for you for over a month, I’ve been thinking about you every single day.” He remembered everything, the dress, what I said and everything. I couldn’t believe it.
Did you like him?
It was weird, you know. I was like, “Is he for real?” I knew he remembered. He caught my attention, and then he stayed with me the whole night. He talked with me. We danced, I was telling him he was too close to me–to move back. He was too close!
Was he dancing?
Yeah, we were dancing and I was like, “Move back. You’re too close to me.” And he was like, “I’ve never encountered a girl like you.” I was like, “No, you’re too close.”
Did you have a boyfriend?
No. I kept telling him to get away, to get off of me. He was touching me and I kept telling him to stop touching me, and he was laughing. You know, he kept telling me, “You’re full of shit.” I said, “Whatever.” He invited me to his hotel and I told him, “No. Are you crazy?! I trust you, but not like that!”
What happened next?
He gave me his home number and his pager number and he said, “I’m gonna stay a day later. I’m supposed to fly back to Atlanta tomorrow, but I’m going to stay a day later just to take you out.” And I was like, “Yeah right. You know, okay whatever.” I did not think anything of it. I said, “Okay.” We exchanged numbers and he was like, “You’re not coming to my hotel room?” I said, “I already told you no, so don’t ask me again.” At the time, I was a camp counselor, so I said, “I get off work at 5 p.m. I’ll be home by 6 p.m. He called at exactly six o’clock on the dot. And he was like, “Okay, I’m ready to take you out. Where do you want to go?” I said it doesn’t matter and he said, “I’m not coming to Harlem,” and I said, “I’m not coming to your hotel, so I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Where was he staying?
The Paramount Hotel. I said, “I’m not going down there.” We were on the phone for an hour debating. I said, “Okay, I’ll meet you in the lobby, but I’m not gonna go up to your room.” So he said, “No, you have to come up to my room.” I said, “Okay, fine.” So I put on a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, a baseball hat and I said I’m not going to wear anything sexy because I don’t want to give him that impression. We went and had dinner at this little Italian restaurant. Then we went to Chelsea Cinemas in Manhattan to see Forest Gump. He said, “It’s the number one movie in the nation,” and I told him I didn’t want to see it.
You thought it was corny?
Yes, it was corny. So he said, “You’re a weirdo.” He kept saying, “You’re a weirdo.” So we saw the movie. He was explaining to me that he was supposed to read for one of the parts in there. So it was really nice. In the movie theater, the people in front of us had small children and I think the child was agitated. They were there for a long time and this man just started yelling to the woman, “Why don’t you shut that kid up?! And Pac was like, “You know, that’s a child. The baby can’t help it.” And I thought he spoke very calmly. I was so surprised because the bad person the media portrayed him to be–spitting at the camera, very arrogant–he was nothing like that. He was a total gentlemen–very respectful, opened the door, asked “What do you want? What would you like?” A total, total gentlemen.
So what did you do after the movie?
So, after the movie, he wanted me to go back to his hotel room and I told him, “Nope.” So we stood there for about twenty minutes and I said, “I’m going home. It’s been a nice night and now it’s time to end it.” He said, “No you’re coming back to the hotel with me.” So I said, “Okay, okay fine.”
So I went back to the hotel and we talked, we watched TV, and they actually showed a clip on “E” TV of him spitting at a camera or something like that. He was like, “Oooh, look!” [She laughs] I was reading a magazine and he told me, “You didn’t come here to read a magazine.” And I said, “Yes I did.” We had small talk, but he was kind of tired and I said, “Well, I’m going home.” He said, “No you’re not. No, you can’t go home.” I said, “Well there’s two beds in here. You sleep on that bed and I’ll sleep on this bed.” He said, “No, this is my room. I’m sleeping where you’re sleeping.” I said, “Okay, okay.”
Now are you normally like that with guys?
[Laughing] No, I’m really nasty, evil and everything. So then I think we both fell asleep. I had on all my clothes on and he said the least I could do is take off my shoes. I said, “Nope.” But I said, “Okay, okay, okay.” So I took off my shoes. He went right to sleep. He didn’t try anything, or nothing like that.
You just slept?
Keisha: I woke up early in the morning. I left him a note. Kissed him on the cheek and that was that. I did not call. He flew back to Atlanta and I went away. So when I came home that Friday, there were eight messages on my answering machine.
Explain what happened?
I worked in a community center as a camp counselor and we went away on an overnight trip to Pennsylvania. We were away for a week. He was trying to get a hold of me and I couldn’t call because there were no phones, nothing. So you know he was wondering where I was, how come I didn’t get in contact with him. [Later] he said, “You know I want you to come to my house.”
Where is his house?
In Atlanta. I said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that.” He was like, “Okay. I’ll talk to you later. Then fine.”
But you were trying to find a phone out there?
Yeah, I was trying to find a phone because I knew he was calling. I know he was like, “What happened to her?” I wanted to check my answering machine to make sure… There had better have been some kind of message on my answering machine! And there was.
What did the messages say?
It was so sweet. He was like, “Keisha, Keisha, where you at? This is Tupac.” And when I came home, I decided to fly to Atlanta and I paid for it, myself. He was so impressed, he was like, “I never had a girl pay for anything on her own. I’ve never encountered a woman like you.” I paid for my flight, I left all my information with my girlfriend and told her, if I don’t come back, you call the police [Laughing]. When I went down there, we had a great time. He was performing.
Tell me what happened.
He performed at this club, the Vixen, in Atlanta. It was in July.
Didn’t he have girls all over him?
Yes! Always! That was part of the package.
So you were ready to accept this?
At that time, I wasn’t taking it for anything because whatever happened, happened. It was just, we were seeing where it was gonna take us. I told him, “I’m pretty sure you have a girl in every city. You can’t settle down. You’re Mr. ‘I Get Around,'” and he was like, “No, I don’t have a girlfriend.” So I said, “I find that hard to believe.” I flew down to Atlanta, he gave me his home number. So, that’s why I was kind of thinking maybe he didn’t have a girlfriend…
So, did you see his performance?
It was very nice, the performance he gave. It gave. It was funny. He wanted to wear short, with a [Tommy] Hilfiger shirt and sneakers and I told him, “No, you have to take that off.” I put him in a pair of Calvin Klein’s with a tank top and a vest and a pair of motorcycle boots. He said, “Oh, you’re trying to make me look sexy.”
He had the Calvin Klein’s there?
Oh! he had everything. A beautiful house.
Who furnished the house?
He did. Oh yeah, we discussed that.
What did the house look like?
Male. A bachelor’s house. That’s what it was. Nothing more, nothing less. The house was big–pool in the back. They featured it in one of the magazines [The Source]. It was away from everything–very secluded, his home.
It was a male house?
You know, men don’t clean or anything like that.
Was the house furnished?
Yes, big screen TV. He loved the TV… Pool table. Oh he loved it, even when we were married, the woman [who performed the wedding], said, “…With all your worldly possessions…” He said, “Well, Keisha can’t have my pool table or my big screen TV” during the ceremony. [Laughing] I told him to be quiet.
So, you’re down there in Atlanta. What did you all do?
I said, “The only thing I want to do down here is go to Six Flags Atlanta.” He said, “Oh, it’s going to be difficult.” I said, “I know. I can understand that.”
Because of his popularity?
Yeah, but that’s what I wanted to do. It was not like I said, “You have to take me there.” It was like we were having a good time. He was able to relax, you know. We had cookouts. He cooked barbecue chicken.
He knew how to cook?
He can throw down. He loved barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese and orange soda and Chinese apples [pomegranates]. He used to have me searching and searching to buy a hundred of them.
They’re so hard to eat.
And he would make a mess. It would be all over the walls, the bedspread, his shirt, the towel–everything.
He cooked for you?
Yes, I would start dinner, but he’s say, “Come on, Keisha. Move! Get out of the way. You did enough.”
How long were you down there?
A weekend. I was supposed to fly back Sunday. What happened was, he made me miss my flight.
Because the car ran out of gas. He had a low rider and he didn’t know how much gas was in the car, so he ran out of gas. We had someone following us. They had to go get gas and I missed my flight. I called my girlfriend and told her I was going to be home a day later and that he took me to Six Flags.
Did he like the high rides?
He loved roller coasters. You know, it’s funny because we had such a good time. We were running through the park trying to get rides. When I went out with him in New York, I was surprised because people would be like, “Oh it’s Tupac!” They ran up to him, but he didn’t get a chance to enjoy himself. But in Six Flags, he had a really good time. A few people came up to him, but it wasn’t like that.
It started to rain, so we had to leave. Then I flew back home. He said I’m coming to New York and visit you, next. He was going on tour. He did this show in Hawaii.
When he came back, he called me every single day, five times a day. He was really making me believe and feel that this may be something here. When I came home from work one day, there was a dozen roses. I wasn’t there, so they were left with my next-door neighbor. But by the time I came home, my father had the roses and he was standing there with his wife and they were like, “Is this Tupac the rapper?” I said, “Mind your business.” I took the roses upstairs.
They had read the card?
Yeah, they read the card [Laughing]. I said, “You guys are so nosy.” I still have the card, the ribbon and some of the roses. I paged him… And that’s one thing, he always called right back. I said to him, “I got your roses. That was so beautiful.” He was like, “That’s good.” That was so sweet. I was like, “Wow!” If you don’t have the opportunity to know him closely, you would never know this.
How long was this after you met him?
We met in June. This happened in August when he went to Hawaii. He called and told me he bought me something and I said, “Don’t tell me. I want to be surprised.” And he said, “Are you sure you don’t want me to know?” I said, “No, no, no! Don’t tell me. Just surprise me.” He said, “Okay, Keisha. I wrote a poem. You want me to tell you the poem and you try to guess?” So, he read this poem to me. It was about “time” and I didn’t think anything of it. I was just like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He was like, “You still don’t know what it is?” I said, “Don’t tell me.” He said, “I can’t help it. It’s a watch.” So we had matching watched from Gucci. When he came back, he gave me the poem. He bought me a card and the gift.
Did you see him a lot?
I was calling him. Oh yes, we saw each other a lot. We really started to see each other frequently in September. He went to California. He was out there in the studio for a few days for Me Against The World and he came back and bought me another gift. And he said, “I bought you something.” And I said, “No, not again! Don’t tell me.” He said, “I have to tell you.” I said, “Okay, okay. Let’s see how long you can wait.” And he said, “I bought you a dog.” I said, “A dog! I don’t like dogs!” But he said, “No, you’re gonna like this one. You’re gonna like him. He’s the cutest thing.”
So he comes to my house in New York. He used to make surprise visits to my home all the time. One time I was at work and I didn’t expect him to come, but my girlfriend thought he was coming by the things he was saying. But I was like, “I don’t think he’s coming,” because I knew he had some other engagements.
When I came home, he was standing in front of my building and about 100 people were standing in front of my building. He was signing autographs and he said, “I’m gonna kill you.” I said, “I’m so sorry.” He said, “People went home to get their CDs and tapes. That’s how long I’ve been out here.” I said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” So we went upstairs and he said, “I have to have the keys.” Then he used to come all the time.
He came a lot?
A lot. At one time, he basically was living there, even though he had a hotel room there [in New York]. He still loved home. We had fun. A lot of fun. A lot of good memories.
How come you didn’t believe that Pac did anything to that girl he allegedly raped? I mean you’re not dealing with the rape at all?
Well, I don’t know because I wasn’t there. I did not know him at the time. I only know from what I heard. I can’t believe it because this is a handsome man who can probably be with any woman he wants. I can’t see the logic in him wanting to do something like that.
But that’s not what rape is based on. Rape is based on power and violence. You never felt that? You were just having a good time. Did you ever think or say, “Well, what happens with this trial if I’m convicted?”
Oh yeah. We discussed that. I told him, “Don’t worry. I’m going to support you no matter what. I’m in it because I care, not because I’m trying to seek anything or become someone from [being with] you. Purely out of love and the relationship.”
Did you know at that time that he had a lot of civil and criminal cases against him?
He said, “I have thirteen cases.” He told me the amount of money he made. He came a long way. I was proud for him. I was like, “That’s good, your story. It didn’t happen that way for a lot of people.” At the time, he just said, “I’ve got thirteen cases. I’ve done this and I’ve done that.” Just making small talk, trying to get to know one another. And that was actually the first date. He recited “Temptation.” He was trying to feel me out and find out about me. He said one line about, “Am I lonely and depressed? Do I need a thug in my life? That’s my song I just did. I just finished it,” or whatever. For a minute, I was star struck that I was actually sitting there with him. It was unbelievable.
What happened when the trial came? Where were you when this whole thing began?
I was at and school.
How was he holding up during the trial?
I used to get him dressed every morning, make breakfast.
Tupac was basically staying with you during the trial?
Yes. We were together all the time. I used to get his clothes ready, cook breakfast and make sure he ate. And getting him up, that was the problem because he wanted to sleep. But once he got up, he would go right into the bathroom and write music, write poetry, write anything.
He writes music in the bathroom? Babyface used to write in the bathtub.
Not in the tub. He didn’t want me to come in there. We used to argue over the bathroom. I would have to go to the bathroom. He used to complain that he never saw me use the bathroom and I told him, “I have to go when you leave.” [Laughing]
He’d get up. You’d get him ready. How many days did he have to go to trial?
It was everyday for about three or four weeks.
Did you go to trial with him?
No, I didn’t go.
He’s going to trial. When he came home from court, how was he acting? Was he scared?
No. When he came home, it wasn’t about what happened at the trial today. I was trying to ease all the media hype. I tried not to make him come home to that, too.
Did things ever bother him? Things he would read about himself, and he would feel it was wrong?
Oh yeah, of course. It was a lot of stuff like that. He was upset because they never asked him. They get a lot of stuff from hearsay. Of course that would bother a person.
Who came to the trial?
A couple people: Mickey Rourke. People were coming in spurts.
Mickey Rourke came?
Yes, I remember him mentioning him. That’s when he was doing Bullet. That was his buddy.
How come he liked Mickey Rourke?
I don’t know. I was on the set of Bullet a lot. I remember Pac used to call: “Keish, make dinner–make this and bring it.” He would always tell me the wrong place. He would say, “Wait, let me have someone tell you exactly where I am.” I would cool dinner and bring it to him because he was tired or catered food.
What would you cook?
Whatever he would ask: Fried chicken, some type of vegetable.
Did you ever see him study his lines?
He would read it, just look at it and that was it. I was amazed. I would ask him, “How do you do that?” If it were me, it would have taken a month. I remember when he received the script from Bullet, he read it in like two hours. I remember he looked through the whole thing, saw the part, and went down to the place for the audition. And he was like, “I got it! I got it!” They would give him whatever his lines were for the upcoming scene and he would just look at it and just go right out there.
He would know it?
Know it! Know it. He would look at it and just go right out, and I was amazed. I was amazed. He loved to read.
What would he read?
He loved all sorts of things. He liked Marvin Gaye’s autobiography. He read anything. He loved history. He loved literature. We went to see Les Miserables. He loved that. He loved the CD, the music–he was sitting there explaining everything to me, but we had to leave because we were both hungry. We couldn’t sit through the whole thing. But you know, he just loved to read.
So what happened the day he was judged and they told him he was going to prison. How did you hear that?
How did we hear it? We were actually in the hospital.
That’s right, he had been shot.
He had been shot at that time and the lawyers came in and told him. I guess I don’t know what he was thinking. I just remember the lawyers coming in and he was actually watching it on TV. It was an intense moment. You know, I was with Pac at a major point in his life. I’ve been through the ups and downs and we’ve had our ups and downs and it was a lot.
Keisha, what would you change if you could? What would you stop, or what would you begin?
I would have liked to have seen him happy and prosper. But I just wish that more people were there for him.
He was an extremely sensitive person. So you saw his pain a lot?
I saw his emotions, and I saw a lot. You know I did. But he was a happy person. I loved to laugh and he was a jokester. He had jokes.
Tell me more.
I can’t. He never said, you know, “Two guys are walking…” or anything like that. But he picked fun all the time. Okay, I’ll give you a good one. When I crashed his 850 [car], I came home and my face was like, “Oh my god!”
Now, he saved up that money and he taught himself to drive. I remember this, Keisha. Now you tell this story right.
Okay, what happened was, he was in New York doing Bullet and he was going to be there for a while, so he wanted his car. So the thing was, I was off for a couple of days from work and school and I said, “Let me fly down and go get the car and now,” he told me, “I’ll get back to you.” One day I came home from work and I was walking my dog and somehow Player jumped out of my arms, ran out into the street and got hit by a car. He said that I did it, that I tried to kill my dog. So I was screaming. I ran upstairs and Pac was nervous because he though it was me and I said, “No, it’s the dog.” And he said, “I don’t care. I can get you another dog. Go get my car.”
So he said for you to go on down there?
No. He said, “Take the dog to the hospital, get him checked out. I’ll be here. And remember, you have to go get the car tonight.” I didn’t know what to do. My dog is laying in my arms. He’s screaming about to go into shock. I was just so afraid for my dog.
So it turned out that Player is fine, but I had a flight. I had to rush back home, pack and catch a flight out. I’m trying to do homework in between all this. I try to sleep on the plane. I get down to Atlanta, they pick me up, I go to the house, but the plates weren’t on the car yet. They were trying to get everything together, the paperwork and everything.
Was he just buying the car?
He had the car for about two months. I left at about one a.m.
Driving back by yourself?
Driving back by myself. I know my parents are going to kill me after they hear. Driving back from Atlanta. I remember I said, “I’m tired.” I pulled over to sleep, just to rest my eyes, then I started driving again. But I was still fatigues. Within a quick second, my eyes nodded and before I knew it, I was in the grass. I was in South Carolina and there was grass dividing the highway. They also had these cement things for the sewage. Oh my god! I was off to the left in grass. I heard the car go “boomp, boomp.” I hit something. The airbag came out. I was awake during this time. The airbag came out and knocked in my face really bad.
Those things are dangerous.
Yes, really dangerous. My mouth, my eyes–everything was really messed up. I got back on the highway and all I kept saying was, “He is going to kill me.”
How did you get back on the highway?
I don’t know. The airbag was pumped. I somehow got back on the highway. The front right tire was underneath the car. I’m in the left lane and cars are passing by and all I kept saying was, “He is going to kill me. He’s gonna kill me.” I get out of the car, my mouth is bleeding. A nice woman helped me. She called the cops. She waited with me and let me sit in her car. They were like, “You don’t want to go to the hospital?” I said, “No, I have to stay with this car.” When the cops came, I said, “It could be fixed, right?” That’s all I kept saying. They said, “No.”
It couldn’t be fixed? What did you do to it?
No. I totaled it. I was in a little town called Anderson, South Carolina. The phone started ringing. I had called home: “Pac, I crashed the car.” He said, “What?” He knew the town. I’m crying and he told me, “Stop crying. Stop being a punk. You’re a punk. Stop being a punk and stop crying. I should be crying, not you.” He said, “Okay, calm down. I’m gonna call the travel agent and get you a flight home.” I said, “I could have been killed,” and he said, “You were in a $90,000 car. You weren’t gonna be killed.”
The way he thought, the way he looked at things…
It was his car. I said, “You don’t care about me.” He said, “No, I know you’re fine. I knew you were fine. The car is gone.” I said, “Insurance will pay for it.” He said, “You don’t know that yet.”
What kind of car was this?
A BMW eight series. An 850.
He put you on a plane? Did you leave the car down there?
He put me on a plane. The limo came to pick me up and drove me to this little, little airport. There was this little plane–I remember there were ten people on the plane. I was so scared. I’m crying and my face is messed up. I didn’t want to go back home. I flew to Raleigh and from Raleigh, I flew back to New York. When I got home, he was sitting there like this: [Keisha imitates arms folded.] When he saw my face, he felt bad. The first thing he said to me was, “You’re lucky you have something physically wrong with you.” He said, “Give me a kiss.” He kissed my face and he was just like, “You’re ugly. You look like Jimmy Walker. [Laughs] He’s making jokes about the way I looked. He kept saying to everyone who called, “You have to see her face.”
You didn’t get treated at all?
No, it wasn’t like that. It was swollen from the impact of the airbag.
So what happened to the car?
They totaled out the car.
Did he ever get another one?
No, he didn’t get another one, but he bought me a BMW 735 for my birthday.
How long after that?
The next month. He got the 850 around the end of August. October I crashed it. In November, he bought me the 735. It was his car. He had the system in it. He was going to make me go deaf.
He bought you the car, but he put all his stuff in it? What were your parent saying all of this time?
They weren’t saying much. My dad–I love him to death. That’s my heart. I am his baby. He supports me in everything I do.
They are saying, “This man was really nice to you?”
My father loved Pac. He admired him. They used to talk. It was wonderful. On my birthday, Pac had a little get-together for me. He got a chance to meet my mother for the first time. My mother and him didn’t hit it off too well in the beginning, but as time went on… He bought my mother a little gift. He made the approach to her. It was beautiful. I was very proud of him.
here was [Pac’s mother] Afeni during all of this? Had you seen any of his family?
I met his family the first time I went down there–the first weekend.
At that time, did they know how close you were getting to him?
We met in June. I went to see him in July and that’s when I met them.
But you hadn’t seen them after that? During the time you were going out with Pac.
Oh no, I saw them frequently.
So they were coming up?
Oh yeah, because the trial was going on.
Afeni was coming up for the trial?
Now the trial comes and you saw it on television. Did you feel bad?
Of course I did. I was surprised as well. I told him, “You don’t have to worry. I’m in your corner. I’m not going to leave you now.” That would not be the proper thing to do.
So let me ask you this: People would normally think you were a gold digger, but you weren’t?
I never asked for anything. It wasn’t for money. It was for love.
When did you know that you loved him?
I remember the first time he told me he loved me.
When was that? One time he had come home and he said, “You know what? I love you.” He said, “You didn’t hear me?” I said, “I heard you, but you’re ruining a good moment right now.”
Do you think he was seeing other girls at that time?
Oh, I’m sure.
That didn’t bother you?
Of course! Any woman naturally is jealous. However, I understood. I took a lot. Oh, I took a lot! I think that’s what he liked.
You weren’t always up in his face, rolling your head, hands on your hips?
He was a man. I let him be a man.
Would he ever say to you, “I was with this girl.”
We were so open with each other.
But you couldn’t see other guys?
Oh me? No, no, no, I couldn’t. I questioned him, we used to have falling-outs just like everybody. We argued just like everybody else. I questioned him as soon as he would come home. “Let me go through your pockets. I’ll find out for myself.” I was an investigator. If he was out, someone was bound to see him–my girlfriends or whatever.
I remember one time I went out. We were both going out. I had to beg and plead because I didn’t go anywhere. I had to beg and plead, “Can I go out?” He was like, “Where are you going? Who are you going with? What are you going for?” I was like, “Oh come on! We’re going to dinner.” He said, “All right, but you have to be back by ten p.m.,” and it was already nine p.m. So he said, “Okay, midnight.”
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make dinner and my girlfriends were going to the club afterwards. I knew he was going to another New York restaurant, something with business. I knew he was going to be preoccupied, so I decided, “I’m going to go.” We waited at this club outside for an hour. We were at the Tunnel. We get inside and guess who shows up? Pac. He walks straight up to my girlfriend and he says, “Where is Keisha?” She didn’t know what to do. I was right behind her on the dance floor. I was on the floor.
You were hiding on the floor?
Yeah. Because he went to my girlfriend and said, “Your man allows you here, but her man don’t allow her here.” She was like, “I don’t know. She’s home.” He said, “You’re lying. I don’t believe you.” It was all over and done and she told me to go home because he’s going to think I’m a liar. And I said, “But you are.” I said, “I’m staying because I have to watch [him].” She was like, “No! You have to go home.”
So he never saw you?
He never saw me. I slipped out the side door, got in a cab and went home. I got home and typed up my paper because I had a paper due. That’s why I couldn’t make dinner–because I had to write a paper for school. I was home just typing and he came home about 4 a.m. He was like, “I’m so proud you didn’t go out. I saw your little friends, too.” I said, “Yeah, they called me.” He said, “Already? They couldn’t even wait for the next day?” I felt so bad. I had just told a major lie. But I told him the truth afterwards.
How did you feel? You had someone telling you when you could go and couldn’t go.
I understood it. As far as being controlled, okay. I was happy. I wanted to be there. I was in school. I worked.
He wasn’t stopping you from doing what you needed to do?
No, not at all. If anything, he was for school. If I would come home with a B, he would be like, “Why didn’t you get an A?” He was really impressed. When he first met me, I had a job at night and I had an internship and I was going to school full time. He said, “You know you work hard.”
What was your internship?
My internship, I worked for the Federal Government.
You were studying, what?
Criminal justice. You were getting good grades, too?
I graduated on the dean’s list. You’ve graduated since I’ve talked to you, right?
Yes. I was supposed to go back in September of 1996 to work on my Masters in Education. But when he was shot, I was unable to.
Let’s talk about when Pac was shot. What did you go through with him at that time?
At that time he was unable to trust anyone. He didn’t know what was going on, I don’t think.
How did he explain to you what happened?
We had just come back from Atlanta–Thanksgiving dinner. He wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner again–he wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner again–he wanted us to have our own dinner. He had some business to take care of. He was going to the studio. He was going to work. I said, “When are you coming home?”
You’re home? You’re in New York?
I was home and he flew back an hour later than I did. I asked him to come home and he said, “Well, get my pomegranates, and I’ll be home.” [Laughs] The only thing I remember, because I blacked out, was that he called from the studio. He called to let me know what he was doing and he asked me to cook dinner. Then, I got a call later. He felt something wasn’t right. I got a call later and he asked me to call his mom because he had been shot. He was talking normal.
Where was he?
I don’t know. He was running the street somewhere. I was at home doing my homework, trying to catch up. He called and asked me to contact his mom.
He was very quiet about it? It wasn’t like he was hysterical?
No, he wasn’t hysterical.
Did he tell you what hospital he was in?
No, I don’t think he was at the hospital. I don’t know. It was like, “Call my mom. I’ve just been shot.” Click.
What did you do?
I don’t know. I was so… Is it real? Did this conversation just happen? It can’t be that bad because he was talking. I called his family, then I called his managers. I just wanted to find his mom and get her there with him. When we got to the hospital, they told me that he had been grazed twice in the head. I almost passed out. The media was already there. They were catching us as we were going in and I almost passed out. They were talking, but I couldn’t understand it. I was like, “Oh my god.” I said, “I have to see him. I have to see him. I have to see him, now.” We went back there and we saw him.
Was he awake?
Yeah, cracking jokes. I met a nurse there and she was the most beautiful person. I’m still in contact with her today. She kept us updated. She was really good. She said, “When I was wheeling him, I said, ‘Tupac, is that you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah. Look they tried to kill me.'” She was like, “Oh my god, my poor baby.”
That’s when he showed you his groin?
Yeah, that’s him, you know You can’t do anything but laugh.
So he’s in jail. Now what?
First, he went to Bellevue. Bellevue is a hospital, but they have a correctional facility.
Why did he go to the hospital?
Because he was shot. Then he went to Riker’s Island, then to Down State and from Down State he went to Clinton.
What’s Down State?
You stay there for two weeks for medical.
It’s called Down State?
Yes, Down State Correctional. I believe you go there to see what level of security. It’s just like an evaluation. I kept up. I followed up. One day I called and they told me he was transferred up to Clinton. I said, “Clinton?!” I called the facility to see what’s going on with him. They said that it was six and a half hours away. I said, “This can’t be real. You’ve go to be kidding.” I called his attorney and explained to him what was going on. How am I going to get up there? I called the facility and made sure he was there and he was okay. They had put him into general population at first. He left during the week and whatever that weekend was, I was up there. I was kind of nervous, but by the time I got up there. He was writing me, trying to tell me, but I already knew he was up there. So I went to visit him.
He was writing you?
He was trying to let me know that he had been transferred, but I knew. He told his lawyer, because his lawyer went to visit him, and I knew he was only there for a short term. I used to call every day just to keep track of where he was and what was going on, and to make sure he had clothes and everything he needed. I went up to visit him. I was scared to death. Jamie, you’ve been there. I was scared to death. I didn’t know what to do. I know my parents were… I don’t even think I told them. It was nothing that I wanted to do, but would could I do? I couldn’t turn my back on him.
You sacrificed a lot. Did you give up your job?
I did, after we were married. But at the time, I didn’t know financially… And I didn’t like to ask anyone for money. I worked everyday and I used to spend my last to make sure he had whatever. And I’m not rich. I work hard every single day. My parents put me through school. I made sure I could do what I could do. And he knew that.
When he first went up there, you went up there that weekend and you stayed in a hotel?
And I hated it. It was the worst experience of my life. I was scared to death. There was no TV, there was no telephone. Oh my god, it wasn’t a hotel, it was just a house with rooms in it.
How did you find that?
That’s the only thing in the town. The whole town of Dannemora consists of a jail, a bank, a restaurant, a motel, a post office, a car dealership, and that’s it. About six or seven things. I didn’t know anything about the town. I didn’t know where I was, I took a bus up there. I never experienced anything like that in my life. This is not what my parents wanted for me.
And you just went up there by yourself?
Yeah, I went by myself and I smiled to keep from crying.
What did Pac say when you first saw him?
He was happy. He said, “I didn’t think anyone was coming today,” and I said to him, “Did you think I was going to leave you? No, I wouldn’t do that to you.” He said, “Well, you have to stay the whole weekend.” I said, “I’m gonna stay the whole weekend. I’m not leaving you. I brought clothes to stay the whole weekend.” I brought money up to put on his books. I think I brought $1,000, but you could only leave $50 per day. He was like, “$50!” So he gave me a whole list of things. I had to find out what he was allowed to have. Where you could get it. I was scared because I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Everyone was saying, “Tupac is here, Tupac is here. I wonder who’s going to see him?” It was that sort of vibe. I was just so scared. Something could happen to me. I was quiet. I didn’t say anything. I just listened.
You brought $1,000 of your money?
No, it was his.
So you stayed up there for the weekend?
I stayed the weekend. I found out everything.
You were not the wife then?
I was the girlfriend. I was still the girlfriend. It was awhile before we actually decided to do this [get married]. He went into custody in December. February they switched him from Riker’s to Down State and from Down State to Clinton. April is when we decided. April 29th.
That’s when you all got married?
It was a lot of thought. It wasn’t just like, “Oh yeah.” It was nothing out of convenience. It was nothing like, “He’s just in jail.” It was nothing like that. You were there, Jamie. You saw the both of us together. A lot of people saw us together. They knew it was more than just that.
Address this: they say that it was easy for Pac to marry her because he didn’t have anybody else coming there.
That’s not true. There were other people coming there. The boy had a list of people… All types of people. Fans came. All kinds of people. They would just come up. I can’t buy that.
Why do you think Pac wanted to marry you? Had you all thought about marriage before he went in?
Yes, we did discuss marriage before he went in. September 1994, he came home and he asked me, “Keish, do you see anything new on my finger?” I said, “Oh, what? Did you get a manicure?” He said, “No, I have new jewelry. Do you see my ring?” I said, “Okay, it looks like all the other ones you have on your fingers.” He said, “Oh yeah? Well I’m gonna give what I bought for you to the dog.” It was a little velvet pouch with a box in it. When I took it from the dog, it was a big 42 diamond, platinum ring. He said, “I’m giving it to you now. Maybe we’ll get married around your birthday.
When is your birthday?
November 10th. But November was a very hard month for him. The trial, the shooting, in and out of the studio. I didn’t want to pressure him with, “Look, you put this ring on my finger. Let’s go ahead and do this. Let’s make this date.” In December, we discussed it. This was not something that we just thought of because he was in jail. No, I have a ring to show.
He liked you because…?
He said I was his queen. That was my king. And if you look at my ring, it resembles a queen’s crown. Everyone can speculate, but they don’t know. No one actually knows. We were too close. People didn’t know that.
They’ll know now. Don’t be angry.
He always protected me. How did he do that? What do you mean by that?
He always protected me. He didn’t want anything to happen to me. He just had this thing.
Would he take a bullet for you?
I don’t know.
He never said anything like that?
No, he never said anything like that.
He never said anything about…
No, he’s not here to defend himself. I’m not going to make up anything. I’m only sticking to what really happened. I can’t speculate on stuff like that.
So, give me a typical day of being up in Dannemora. You went up to see him for the weekend, then did you go home?
At first it was just on weekends. Then, a couple of times people would stand him up–say they were coming and never came. I would fly up to make sure he had a visit–to get him out of that cell. Every day he came with a list, Jamie, of what he wanted.
Do you have one of those lists?
I think I do. I made sure he had stuff from the mall–food, clothes, tapes, books. Every day he gave me a list and I just went and had it shipped to him. To make him as comfortable as possible.
He would ask for stuff. Now, first you were nervous about him being in general population.
Then they put him in involuntary.
He told me, “They put me in general population and they saw that general population liked me.” Remember?
They loved him. I don’t know happened because I wasn’t in there, but they didn’t know the type of person they were dealing with. They didn’t know his status. When they put him in general population, they were like, “Wow.” I don’t know how they were thinking. But they took him out of general and put him in involuntary.
That was a mean thing, right?
Involuntary protective custody.
That’s not someplace he wanted to be?
No. He didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be in general population.
He wanted to be in general population because, what?
Because, he wasn’t afraid.
Tell me the story about how, every time a visitor would come, he would run and take a shower. First of all, he could hardly wash his clothes out.
Keisha: Yes, of course. He complained every single day. That wasn’t a place he wanted to be in. He wasn’t used to this. I made it so he didn’t have to wash out anything. I told him to throw everything away.
He would wear it once and throw it away?
How did you feel? Was there any time when you really feared for him up there?
I feared for him every day. It didn’t matter whether he was in or out. It didn’t matter. I feared for him every day. That was just me.
There was a time before you got married that he felt that he was true to you and you were true to him, no matter what. He would call you and hook you up with different people. Then you overheard him talking to some girl, saying they were going to get married. You overheard that and just hung up the phone. [Laughing]
Jamie, it wasn’t anything. He told me everything. It wasn’t like that. [Laughing]
When was this?
This was when he was in Riker’s Island.
He was in Riker’s and would call you up and have you call different people and you called her. And you picked up the phone to see if he was finished and you overheard him say something about they were getting married.
I wished them luck.
You picked up the phone and said, “I wish you luck”?
That’s exactly what I said.
I know you felt like, kicking that boy’s behind.
Yes, he was a mess. He put me through it, I told him, “If that’s what you want. I wish you luck.”
Didn’t Tupac call you the next day–or a couple days after that? I know you were hurt.
Yeah, I was hurt. Jamie, believe me, I was hurt a lot of different times.
How did you deal with that hurt?
Seriously, I don’t like pain.
I don’t either. I love to laugh and have fun. I love to smile. I love to laugh. I love to joke and be with my friends and stuff. But you know, I think that’s why I’m upset sometimes, also. When I sit down and think, “Wow, time and time again. What happened? How could this be different and why did this happen? How did you do it and go through school and work at the same time?
And make the dean’s list.
I laughed to keep from crying.
Keisha, could you ever marry again? What kind of man would you choose?
Right now, it’s really difficult. This was a good experience for me. I would love to get married again. I want to get married again, but right now it’s too difficult.
But who would you choose? Have you dated at all?
I don’t know. Yes I’ve dated, but I don’t know. I’m frustrated. I’m just waiting to exhale! I’ve been through a lot.
Do you distrust guys?
I trust them up until they give me a reason not to trust them.
You know what, Keisha? In talking to you, I see your eyes get teary and all that, but you had a lot of fun. And you had a lot of happiness in this short relationship. Am I wrong with this?
It was a lot of pain, but it was a lot of good. It was both. Now what I try to do is move on. I try to remember the good. It was never bad. Up until the point where we decided to annul the marriage, it was not bitter.
Why did you decide to annul the marriage?
It was just our decision.. I’m the plaintiff throughout it all, but it was a decision we both made. We annulled for tax reasons.
What happened with that?
It was less complicated that way.
Because it had never been consummated?
My attorney counseled me and he told me what was best for me.
You had said Pac’s anger was building up and he wanted out of the prison at that time.
At the time, it was a lot of frustration. He was taking a lot of those frustrations out on me. I’m the friend and I’ve been here for ten months. At that time, I literally lived up there. I had an apartment up there. I was going to see him. What else did you want me to do? If I had a magic wand, he would not have been sitting in that jail cell. The only thing was there to do was to help him, not hurt him. I wasn’t looking for anything. I didn’t ask for anything.
Keisha, you always hurt the one you love. You always strike out at whoever is closest by. He is not going to strike out at someone who just comes up to visit him. He’s happy they’re there. You, on the other hand…
It was all lashed out on me. Every day I would say, “I know it’s not him taking it out on me. It’s just a really bad, difficult situation.” We argued frequently. After awhile, he’s frustrated, I’m frustrated. It wasn’t much us. It was the situation. I couldn’t take but so much. Jamie. I took up a lot up until that point. I took a hell of a lot until that point. At that time, I went on vacation for a month and a half.
While he was in jail?
Right before he was released. It was a point when I had to move back home: “Listen, I can’t keep doing this.”
You stopped working and everything? You stopped going to school?
I graduated in June 1995. Now I was becoming miserable and depressed. I can’t go on like this, especially if I’m helping someone. It’s purely from my heart and not with my hand out. Right before he was released, I was out. I went on vacation. I was laying by the pool. I was just thinking.
Where did you go?
I went to Florida and I went to California. I just was trying to relax and get my mind off of it. It was hard. And then he was released. I was happy for him.
When he was released, you didn’t talk to him until when?
Until, November-December 1995. I didn’t speak to him directly after he was released. Whenever the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack came out, that was it.
What was the relationship between you guys after the marriage was annulled?
It was, like, you know, you move on, I move on, that’s it. But the funny thing is that he would still call me and leave messages and say, “Listen to this song,” or “How are you? It’s Tupac.” So he always kept me, like, “It’s gonna be all right.” I remember him specifically saying, “You don’t understand now, but you’ll understand later,” because he always had this notion that we were gonna get back together. So I remember him telling me he didn’t want to damage me. He didn’t want me to get hurt in any of whatever was going on with him, so he’d rather leave me alone. Was I hurt? Absolutely. Did I feel like I was used? Absolutely. But I understand now. Am I angry? Absolutely not. But when you’re young, you do so many things. You know how many times your parents tell you not to do something, and you do the opposite? It’s life lessons. It’s growing for you. I knew Tupac. No one can take that away. I really knew him, and he would never hurt me.
When was the last time you saw each other before he died?
He came into New York. I heard he was here, but I didn’t try to reach him. When I came off of work, he left me a message and was like, “Keisha, I’m in New York. Call me. I’m at the Hotel Nikko. I want you to come down here.” And I was just like, Here we go. We saw each other prior to this, but this was the final time I saw him alive and well. I was like, Oh, no, not again. We were on the phone for half an hour. I was like, “But why? We’re divorced. We don’t have anything.” And he was like, “You will always be Mrs. Shakur.” I was like, “Okay.” So after a lot of coaxing, after the award show, it was the MTV Awards, I went to the Hotel Nikko. He opened up the door and was like, “Wassup? You look good.” And we spoke. It was weird. We spoke, but didn’t speak. It was more like he just wanted me to just lay down, and he went to sleep. No intimacy, nothing like that. It was just, like, he just wanted to lay down, and he went to sleep. I got up in the morning; he was still sleeping when I left.
And that was how long before he was killed?
A couple of days before. And then the next thing I heard was that he was shot out in Vegas. As a matter of fact, he went out to L.A., and then from L.A., I heard he was going to Vegas. We would talk, ’cause he would say, “Why didn’t you wake me up before you left?” And I was like, “No, you were sleeping so peacefully, and I wanted you to rest.” And that was it. But had I known more, I wish I would’ve went to wake him up.
How do you feel about the fact that it’s 15 years after his death and people still are celebrating him?
That’s why this is important. I was through doing any other media. Okay, I said what I said. It’s done. I’ve moved on in life. I have my own stuff in my life going on. It is relevant because it’s important to keep his memory alive and educate the people, the younger generation, who are interested, who are intrigued, who want to be a part of this industry, to look at the people who started, to see where it is that hip-hop has gone.
There are millions of fans out there who still believe that Tupac is in fact alive, that he faked his death to get away from his assailants and his constant legal battles. Do you think he’s dead?
He didn”t call me.