Ice-T is one of hip-hop’s underappreciated heroes. As one of the first West Coast artists, the rapper (real name Tracy Morrows) was the early-1980s artist who paved the way for NWA and the Death Row empire.
As a highly respected and renowned musician in California, Morrows met and collaborated with many artists. In the early ’90s, one artist he got introduced to was 2Pac (real name Tupac Shakur). Shakur operated in Oakland during this period and was part of the Bay Area rap collective Digital Underground.
2pac had a career before he signed with Death Row in 1996 and had created a name for himself as a solo artist in Oakland before he moved to LA. One of his breakout projects was 2pacalypse Now, which was released in 1991 by Interscope. While he was recording this album, Shakur and Morrows crossed paths.
In an appearance on the Drink Champs podcast hosted by Noreaga and DJ EFN, Ice-T explained the difference he saw between the Oakland Pac of the early ’90s and the Los Angeles Death Row version, which surfaced later that decade.
Speaking about their initial encounter, Morrows detailed, “When I first met Pac and Money B and all of them, it was Digital Underground. So you had Shock G, who’s 100% different Parliament [Funkadelic], this that and the third, but I didn’t recognise Pac as militant or nothing like that. [I Saw him] just as a dancer, friend, cool guy.”
He continued, “So when he came out, I was like, ‘You that’s the same dude?!’ But I couldn’t disrespect him ’cause his lyrics were deep, and I got to work on 2pacaplypse Now, me him and Cube on ‘Last Words.'” Morrows proceeded to say that although he undoubtedly saw a difference between the Shakur of old and the later rendition, he doesn’t hate him.
Revealing his love for 2Pac as an artist, Ice-T explained, “I love Pac, but he’s an artist to me, he’s just another artist…so we were friends, and I tried to talk to Pac, but people were saying ‘You can’t talk to Pac’ and I was like ‘Pac’s 13 years younger than me!’ The West Coast definitely has a pecking order. If you’re older motherfuckers will sit down.”
Morrows explained how Shock G of Digital Underground told him that individuals at Death Row were radicalising Shakur, divulging, “Shock was like ‘They feeding Pac gunpowder, Pac is not listening to me.’ But when you’re working with a rapper, you need to get a rapper in a state of mind. Death Row was training Pac to be a killer! You heard that in the music!”
Although Ice-T and Shakur never collaborated while the late artist was on Death Row, Ice-T has always sung his praises and continued to be an advocate for West Coast hip-hop in the US and abroad. You can listen to Morrows speak about the radicalisation of 2Pac in the video below.