INTERVIEW: One of Pac's closest collaborators shares details of the upcoming Outlawz album and potential biopic.
22 years after their inception at the hands of Tupac Shakur, the Outlawz have one of their busiest months in years ahead of them. The two remaining members of the historic group, E.D.I. Mean and Young Noble, are dropping their new album “#LastOnezLeft” next Friday with features from the likes of Scarface and the late Hussein Fatal. And that’s in addition to their roles in the Tupac biopic “All Eyez On Me” that hit theaters yesterday as well as playing a part in the upcoming A&E special “Who Killed Tupac?”, a six-part series premiering on the 29th.
Earlier this week, HNHH had a chance to chat with E.D.I. Mean about his thoughts on modern music, working with A$AP Ferg, seeing Pac on the big screen, the legacy of “Hit ‘Em Up,” and the work-in-progress Outlawz movie.
How was it like collaborating with Scarface, G Perico and A$AP Ferg for #LastOnezLeft?
Oh man, it was cool. The track we actually did with A$AP Ferg may end up on the “All Eyez On Me” soundtrack and actually may not end up on the album. But we have plan to work with him definitely some more in the future. And working with Face is always a pleasure, it’s like working with one of your heroes, literally. We’ve been watching Face since we was kids, you know from the time him and Pac did “Smile For Me Now.” When we were working with Rap A Lot artists it was always a pleasure and we always learned something from Face every time we worked with him.
What's the vibe that you want listeners to get from this album? You know is #LastOnezLeft going to be a more reminiscent album or more of an optimistic one?
It’s absolutely more of an optimistic one. We don’t spend too much time in the past - you got the movies for that and all the old music. This is definitely about positivity, about growing up, about accepting responsibility as grown men, and giving that back to our listeners so that they can incorporate that into their own lives.
What was it like to play yourselves in the movie? Have you had acting experience before?
Briefly here and there, definitely nothing as extensive as this even though our parts and position in this movie is very small. This is not our movie, this is definitely a movie that’s focused on Tupac Shakur and his journey. We’re just an extra added bonus, an extra cherry on top for the real hardcore Tupac fans that love what we do and love what we did together. It gives them a chance to say “Oh shit, it’s actually some real people up there” even though they can’t have the actual real Pac playing himself.
How do you guys feel about seeing Tupac's life put on the big screen? Is it an accurate portrayal?
It’s definitely as close to the real thing as possible. Demetrius Shipp did a great job on bringing Tupac to the screen. Of course you can’t replicate that energy of the real Tupac Shakur, but Demetrius Shipp did an excellent job, and Benny Boom along with LT Hutton stuck to the script. The movie is basically Pac telling his own story, because the majority of the scenes are actual real events that happened and there was very little creative liberty taken in this movie. 98% of it is authentic and real and comes from actual events.
Any chance we’ll see an Outlawz movie in the future?
Absolutely. Our script is in the process of being done, the first draft is already done, and we definitely plan on getting our story to the big screen in the not-so-distant future. Our story is incredible as well. From September 13th, 1996, we went on a hell of journey ourselves and we would love to share that with the people.
You guys have seen many different stages of music since you've come on the scene. And coming from an era before a lot of the popular rappers right now were even born, what do you think of modern hip-hop?
I think modern hip-hop is a reflection of the times and everything that’s going on in the world, and that’s what music should be. To quote Nina Simone, an artist’s duty is to reflect the times, and for these artists nowadays, it’s their turn and they’re reflecting the times that they’re living in. They should have the right to do that. I’m not one of these people that doesn’t care for new hip-hop and wants to bash these young artists - I think it’s their time to do what they do, and we should allow history to decide who was great and who was not.
As far as modern diss songs go, how do you think they compare to “Hit ‘em Up,” which is still often referred to as one of the greatest diss songs of all-time?
It was a different time, you know people were a little bit more upfront, we didn’t really deal too much with subliminal disses. If we had a problem with you we said your name on record. I think artists nowadays for the most part leave it up for discussion and let people guess. But it is what it is. I think that’s one of the things that separates hip-hop music apart from other genres of music: that we do actually go on wax and air out our grievances, and if we have a problem with you we gonna take it to wax. And I hope it continues to stay that way man, cause that’s the way we can handle our conflicts, our problems, and nobody has to get punched in the face or even worse (laughs).
Who do you think are some of the greats today? Or are there any artists you’re rocking with right now?
I appreciate it all, from Kendrick Lamar to the Migos. I appreciate some of everything man. So long as that shit is dope, I can get something from it and I can ride to it. The only thing I don’t fuck with is wack shit.
Who do you think Tupac would have wanted to work with?
Hmm, that’s a good question man. You know Pac had an eclectic palette when it came to music. He really listened to everything - you might be surprised by some of the stuff he was into. But Pac was definitely into hip-hop music culture as a whole, and I remember him really listening to everything, kinda like what I said. He appreciated everything that was dope. If it was wack he ain’t fuck with it. If he was still rapping, he would still be on that same page.
There is an urban myth that you guys smoked Tupac's ashes when he passed. Is that true?
Man, you’re gonna have to go see the Outlawz movie and actually see what happened and see what did not happen (laughs). Outlawz movie coming soon!