Jon B recently spoke with VladTv about collaborating with Tupac on Are U Still Down. He also reveals feeling pleasantly surprised by Tupac being a fan of his music.
Californian Jonathan Buck, better known as R&B artist Jon B, debuted in 1995, with his album, Bonafide. Before Jon’s collaboration with Tupac in 1996, it was rare in hip-hop to have two completely different artists on the same track.
He met Tupac through his friend, Beezo, who knew ‘Pac from his time at Yo! MTV Raps. Beezo was at the ‘How Do U Want It’ video shoot and found out that ‘Pac was a fan of Jon. Wanting to let Jon know, Beezo phoned Jon and told him to come down to the set.
Arriving at the set, Jon describes it as being like Fort Knox, the security was that tight. Eric B met him outside at the gate, with Jon playing his beats in his car. With Eric B liking the beats that he was hearing, he insisted that Jon play the tape to ‘Pac. Tupac listened to it and immediately started to freestyle.
Conversations In The Studio
Two weeks after the shoot, Jon receives a call from Tupac, asking him to come down to Can-Am Studios. As he parked his car at the studio, Jon was taken aback by what he saw in Tupac’s car. His debut album, Bonafide, was on the driver’s seat, which confirmed that Tupac was a fan of Jon’s music.
Once in the studio, Tupac played some beats, the first being Johnny J’s, which would end up being the chosen beat for Are U Still Down. After they finished the song, they talked about various topics, with Jon describing the conversation as being like a “drunken phone call!”
Pac’s Urgency To Work At A Fast Pace
Two weeks after their studio session, Tupac was killed in Las Vegas as a result of a drive-by shooting. Upon reflection of his time in the studio with ‘Pac, Jon describes proudly watching him record ‘To Live & Die in LA’.
Everyone knows when Tupac was in the studio, a bottle of Hennesey wasn’t far behind. Whilst recording his part of the vocals, Jon started messing up, which prompted a swift response from ‘Pac. He says, “Alright man, no more Hennesey for Jon! Play that right man, this ain’t no joke, this a record right now!”
With ‘Pac feeling at home in the studio whilst recording that night, he was shirtless. One of the striking images Jon takes from the studio session was seeing Tupac’s bullet wounds on his chest, saying, “It puts things into perspective.”
Tupac, known for his incredible work ethic, left a lasting impression that Jon took throughout his career. Instead of just going through the motions, Tupac got Jon to go deeper and really feel the emotion of the song. Speaking on that, Jon told VladTv, “He had this very tough exterior but once you sat down to get into the song, there was no stone left un-turned. He would go to the very depths and core of what you feel.”
Afeni’s Reaction To Are U Still Down
Later in the interview, he reveals that he was recording in London, at Air Studios, when he heard about Tupac succumbing to his wounds. Emotion took over and Jon thought about how Tupac’s family were feeling. Just a few weeks before, Jon and ‘Pac were planning the music video for ‘Are U Still Down’.
Tupac’s mother, Afeni, told Jon that her son never played her his music to protect her from anything she might have found offensive. But with ‘Are U Still Down’ ‘Pac was excited to play it to her. Afeni loved the song so much, that she named the first album after her sons’ death, ‘R U Still Down? (Remember Me).