Unless he returns from his clandestine Angolan abode, we won’t be getting any new Tupac interviews anytime soon. So consider this pair of unreleased diss tracks additions to the historical record. A cursory Google search reveals little about their origin, but considering the DJ Quik appearance and the Don Makaveli alias, it’s probably safe to say that they were recorded in the late summer of 96. Probably at Can Am Studios in the Valley around the same time that he recorded the 7 Day Theory. At least that would be consistent with the pit bull with rabies persona that he’s cultivating here.
The turmoil, rage, and threat of imminent violence is all immediately evident. The Quad Studio stickup (“Niggas watching for my pockets planting plots on mine”). In the wake of his exodus from Death Row, Dr. Dre’s ghost-production is excoriated. (“He ain’t made a beat in six years”). The war with Nas. Presumably, this was cut in August, a month after “The Message.” De La gets called garbage after “Me Myself & I.”And your usual boiler-plate Tupac attacks, which gain their power not from lyrics but from that Old Testament villain voice. The sort of thing that reminds you that he was a trained actor. No rapper before ever since could convey anguish in those blunt-scorched chords. You can hear the smirk as the coda taunts “Dre can’t fuck with this.” And the sinister retribution-bent laugh. There was probably drinking involved too. You can’t get this angry sober.
“NY87” starts with Quik pulling punches at the Source, forever (rightfully) bemoaning his underrated status. Featuring Dogg Pound, it operates as unofficial sequel to “New York New York.” Interesting too, how Wu-Tang always got a pass in the bi-coastal beef. Presumably, no one wanted drama with them, lest they arrived at the Source Awards with swords. Neither track sounds very premeditated. The sort of thing with an immediate gestation: pad, pen, Thug Passion, blunts, venom. But between this and the overlooked “Callin’ Out Names,” it’s a reminder that behind Pac and Quik, Kurupt produced some of the finest war records out of the West. Pac’s verse doesn’t name names because he doesn’t have to. The targets are more direct than a PE logo. Everyone and everyone outside of the West. And to make things more interesting, it sounds like Snoop chiming in at the very end: “now, that’s a diss song.”
Neither track will replace “Hit Em Up” or “Who Shot Ya” in the pantheon of all-time great attacks, but without hagiography or hearsay, they flesh out the portrait of Tupac’s psyche during his last days. Defensive,enraged and unhinged. That is, unless this is just a Meek Mill song and we’re all being fooled.