It is well known that the iconic rappers Tupac and Dr. Dre were good friends until their much-publicised falling out. Prior to this historic schism, their stars aligned at many points, but perhaps the most memorable convergence of the two was the hit’ California Love’. The 1995 release was Tupac’s comeback single after his release from prison and, interestingly, was his first as an artist of Death Row Records.
‘California Love’ was one of two songs produced by Dre on Tupac’s 1996 album, All Eyez on Me, with the other being the timeless ‘Can’t C Me’. Notably, there’s a fabled first version of ‘California Love’ that has three verses featuring Dr. Dre’s bars. However, the only copy of it is in the possession of DJ Jam, Snoop Dogg’s DJ, and it will likely never see the light of day.
The story goes that Tupac first heard Dr. Dre’s recordings whilst at his in-house studio, and was blown away by it, so he asked to be featured on the song. The producer of the track, Laylaw, also crafted another mix of the song which is often wrongly credited to Dr. Dre, and some commentators have regarded this as the reason why the two rappers fell out.
Regardless of the fallout that was yet to come, ‘California Love’ is one of the best collaborations in rap history, and it seems as if both rappers knew it. Well, luckily for us, the MTV Vault YouTube channel has unearthed a rare piece of footage that shows Tupac and Dre on the set of the iconic music video.
The clip kicks off with Tupac, Dre, and Chris Tucker hyped up, joking around, and shouting out the video’s director Hype Williams, who briefly comes into the frame. “You gonna win an award for this one,” proclaims Tupac to Williams.
The video then cuts to a lengthy interview with Dre, who explains how the song came about, revealing that the song and video all came to fruition within a week, a mind-blowing fact.
Another brilliant revelation from Dre is that it was actually Jada Pinkett Smith who came up with the initial concept for the music video. The video explores the idea of ‘California Love’ in the year 2095 after the apocalypse, with Tupac and Dre partying for freedom. However, Chris Tucker’s character tries to put an end to the festivities and thus ensues the struggle in the rest of the video. Dre explained: “It’s a little different from what she came up with, but we liked the idea and ran with it”.
An incredible insight into the lives of two of the most iconic rappers of all time, and one of the most influential rap songs of the ’90s, this rare footage is a must-watch.