While Afeni Shakur and a seeming majority of today’s Hip Hop notables have already praised the usage by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg of a hologram of Tupac at the Coachella festival this past Sunday (April 15th), not everyone is so thrilled with the late legend’s image being resurrected for profit. One voice in the Hip Hop community who has grown tired of the “parasites” feasting on his friend’s corpse is C-Bo.
The reality rapper from the wild, wild West (whose street name is not incidentally short for “Cowboy”) befriended Tupac during the mid-‘90s, after the then biggest rapper in the world seized every opportunity he could to hip everyone he interacted with to the Mobb Music of the “Birds In The Kitchen” chef. Subsequently, C-Bo appeared on ‘Pac’s diamond-certified double disc, All Eyez On Me, for the introduction of what was to become the Makaveli Records lineup, “Tradin’ War Stories,” as well as the Northern California posse cut, “Ain’t Hard 2 Find.”
Given his history with Hip Hop’s first hologrammed artist, HipHopDX asked C-Bo yesterday (April 17th) for his thoughts on the shocking resurrection of his friend. One of the formerly incarcerated emcees seen in the compelling Rhyme And Punishment documentary was additionally asked to take a quick stroll down memory lane and recall his most vivid memories of Tupac (which included C-Bo recounting how he was warned by ‘Pac not to sign to Death Row Records). The Sacramento native concluded his discussion with DX by explaining why the follow-up to his recently released street album, Cali Connection, is surprisingly being inspired by a b-movie horror flick from the 1970s about a killer whale.
HipHopDX: You know I gotta start off by getting C-Bo’s reaction to that Tupac hologram.
C-Bo: You know what, man? I been so caught up, bruh, I ain’t even get to see it yet. I been doing this music, getting this record ready. They ain’t giving me no breaks. My time is short out here right now.
DX: Just about that whole concept though, I know you haven’t seen it but what do you think about using his likeness after his death like that, especially alongside two cats he wasn’t even close to cool with at the time of his death?
C-Bo: These niggas is like vultures, man. Parasites. They trying to suck blood from a corpse.
[Tupac] wasn’t even fuckin’ with fake, phony-ass niggas. ‘Pac was a real nigga, man. And these niggas all coming out trying to use old verses and all this shit, man, I just think that’s some way out shit. I ain’t got no respect for a nigga like that.
DX: ‘Pac appeared to be not on the best of terms with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre when he passed but he was definitely down with C-Bo. Did he ever tell you why he was such a fan of the “Bald Head Nut”?
C-Bo: Man, it was like ‘Pac was just on me! I had been to Seattle and I had came back to California [in 1994] for a Summer Jam. And he was out there doing the Summer Jam, and my partners called me like, “Nigga! Tupac on stage screaming your name.” Like, “C-Bo, nigga, I know you out there, where you at?”
He was just fuckin’ with me ‘cause I guess he loved the way I put my smash down. The shit that I was talking about in my music, it was all real life. And, him being from the Bay, and me going to jail, going to [the California Youth Authority], locked up with all these different cats and they probably was speaking on me, telling niggas how real I was. But, you know, ‘Pac just had a love for me, man.
When he got The Outlawz, first thing he did was gave them a C-Bo CD like, “Y’all need to listen to this nigga!”
DX: He did all this before y’all had even met, right?
C-Bo: Exactly, before we even met, bruh.
DX: I just did an interview with Mac Mall in which he explained how ‘Pac “was so Bay Area” and was loyal to the artists there, but he also looked out for a Sac-Town native such as yourself by letting you rock on the biggest album of his career. What was that experience like? You remember just what that felt like?
C-Bo: Man! Shit, that was like the biggest thing probably in my life right there when they called me and said ‘Pac needs you.
Then I go down there [to Los Angeles]. I’m at the Le Montrose Hotel checking into my room and I hear somebody saying, “Nigga, is that the bald head nut?!” I turned around and it’s Tupac. He was standing between two big bodyguards. He had a brim on, a tank top, some 501’s [Levi jeans] and some [Converse] Chuck Taylor’s. [Laughs] And he was like, “Nigga, you ridin’ with me.” Whoever was riding with him in that new [Mercedes Benz] 500 he had got he kicked them to the side like, “Nigga, you ridin’ with me!” E-40, everybody, we all standing in the lobby. And I got in the car with him and he started playing that new shit, that [“2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted”] and all of the shit that he was doing on his new album. It was just like crazy, man. It was like a new wave of music. Niggas wasn’t on that type of shit.
DX: Did y’all get to kick it much after that, before he passed?
C-Bo: Not really. I went on tour like right after that. And I had moved to Atlanta. But I used to call; we used to chop it up on the phone. Even when I had got locked up I would just call him collect and talk to him and The Outlawz, and put muthafuckas on the phone that didn’t believe I was talking to him. [Laughs] ‘Pac was a real dude, man, straight up. That’s like one of the realest niggas I done met in this game – him and Pimp C.
DX: Yeah I heard Pimp C, DJ Screw, they were all C-Bo fans.
C-Bo: They say I was they favorite rapper.
DX: One last ‘Pac-related question: You tweeted [@CboTheMobFather] on March 27th, “I’m still hurt when I think about ‘Pac till this day! R.I.P.” Is that hurt from missing the person, the artist or both?
C-Bo: Both. [When Tupac was murdered] I was in Tracy State Prison. Me and X-Raided [were cellmates], and one of the guards was real cool with us – we used to always come to my cell and try to rap and shit – and one day he had come and bring me the newspaper and was like, “Man, you know they killed your boy last night.” And, I just broke down in tears, man.
He put me on both records: on Disc 1 and 2 [of All Eyez On Me]. And I was juiced up, I was like, “Man, I’m ready to sign with Death Row [Records]!” Everybody was juiced. I’m like, “Man, I wanna sign with Death Row,” but ‘Pac was like, “Nah, you don’t wanna sign to Death Row. You wanna sign to my label when I get my label running.” I was like, “Nigga, that’s what’s up!”
So I hit the road, went to Atlanta and started doing my promotions in the South. And then I wound up going to jail. And then all that shit happened.
DX: You know I gotta backtrack there a little bit and ask did ‘Pac elaborate on why he didn’t want you to sign to Death Row?
C-Bo: He really didn’t say why. But, he said he wanted me on his label. Suge [Knight] was juiced up though, talking about taking me to Japan like, “Man! You gotta go to Japan with us” and all this. And [so] I was like, “Nigga, I’m fin' to sign to the Row!” But ‘Pac was like, “Nah, you don’t wanna do that.”
DX: I think prison might’ve saved your life at that moment.
C-Bo: Man, for real.
DX: Now, given your history with ‘Pac, I gotta ask if there was any reservation at all about using that Notorious B.I.G. vocal sample for “All A Nigga Knows” on your new album?
C-Bo: Nah. I was working with J-Dub, which was a producer over there in P. Diddy’s camp. [Him] and Stevie J., they put that together for me.
I never had a hate for [The Notorious B.I.G.] - even though your enemy is my enemy. But as far as music, Big was nice. He was nice. I don’t know what woulda happened had I ran into him with ‘Pac though. But once they both [passed] it was just like, “Damn, was it worth it?” The beef was stupid.
DX: My final question for you is just do you have any additional words you wanna get out to the readers of HipHopDX about Cali Connection or anything else we did or didn’t talk about?
C-Bo: Cali Connection is the street album but the real album is gonna be Orca: The Killer Whale of the Hood.
C-Bo: That album will be out probably July 3rd. I got MC Eiht, B.G. Knocc Out, WC, Paul Wall, Young Buck, E-40, B-Legit. Me and WC shot a video [for “Murderer”]. Me and B-Legit just shot a video Sunday. So, it’s coming.
DX: I’m still trippin’ on the Orca shit. Like, you were just watching the movie and - ?
C-Bo: I watched that movie a long time ago when I was a kid. And I wouldn’t get out the bed after I watched that shit. I was thinking some sharks and shit were swimming around my bed. [Laughs] Orca pumped fear in a muthafucka. He was like the killer of the sea. And that’s pretty much how I feel in the hood. Like, I really don’t never have no problems and any problems that I have I come out victorious.