Tupac’s close friend and former personal assistant, Kendrick Wells, talks to Cam Capone News about De La Soul passing up the chance to sign Tupac after he auditioned for them. He also talks about the early involvement of Leila Steinberg and Atron Gregory.
Previously in the interview, Kendrick explains how he met Tupac and the origins of his battle rap days. While in Marin City, before superstardom, Tupac, known as MC New York, graced the circuit regularly, destroying other emcees. Kendrick explained that ‘Pac was the best and the content of his raps were different from others.
Continuing, Kendrick reveals who the first people in music that Tupac hooked up with. While in Marin City, Tupac met with a few rappers from Santa Rosa, who formed the group Strictly Dope. The manager of Strictly Dope, Leila Steinberg, connected with all the artists coming through the area. As soon as Tupac heard about Leila Steinberg and her work, his focus changed, he needed to meet Leila.
Tupac Auditions For De La Soul
Eventually, Tupac met Leila and started hanging out with her. In turn, she showed him how to present himself more professionally as an artist. Kendrick tells a story of how he, Tupac and Leila took a trip to a show in San Jose where they met De La Soul and Def Jef. It was here that the young Tupac auditioned for them in their hotel room. Describing this moment, Kendrick says, “he spit these great raps and they were like ‘okay, okay’ and kind of ignored him. They had a chance to sign that guy. But anyway, Leila believed in him.”
Reflecting on that audition, Kendrick believed that they were going through the motions of just pretending to listen. He added, “they had Tupac Shakur in a hotel room performing for them and they didn’t sign him. Maybe one day they’ll see one of these interviews and realize they had Tupac, they probably don’t even know.”
Interestingly, one of the raps performed at the audition, Panther Power, was a tribute to the Black Panther Party. The song was posthumously released on the soundtrack of Tupac: Resurrection.
With the belief of Leila Steinberg, she put Tupac in contact with Atron Gregory, the manager of Digital Underground. From there, Atron allowed Tupac around the studio to watch Shock G and Digital Underground work. This experience led him to become a roadie for Digital Underground and eventually recording with them.
Limousine Tupac & Kendrick Traveling In Shot At
Upon the release of ‘Pac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, he had a record release party at a club that Kendrick had a ban at. On the evening of the release party, Atron told Kendrick that he wasn’t allowed into the premises. However, Tupac let him in the back entrance of the club and they partied and had a good time.
Later, Tupac, Kendrick and a few others left the party in a limousine and decided to go to the studio in Oakland to record. However, while stopped at a gas station, people from the party followed them and started shooting at the limousine. Luckily, the bullets never hit anybody but the limousine suffered damage. When asked about what Tupac’s reaction was to the shooting, Kendrick laughed as he remembered back. He added, “he (Tupac) was just like we ain’t shot, let’s go!” Kendrick confirmed that they didn’t record that evening, as other artists were recording there.