Michael Jackson Once Refused To Be On A Tupac Song Because He Was A Huge Fan
As over-the-top as it may have been, the fatal connection between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG remains one of the most controversial and influential moments in hip hop history. Heavily mythologized and often used as a point of reference when “rap beef goes too far”, the rivalry is still constantly discussed and dissected in pop culture, not just because of what it drove (the deaths of the two rappers – first 2Pac, then Biggie) but because of its polarization for the wider music industry. The Tupac and Biggie beef has split much of the music world in two, even going so far as to rob us of some collaborations we might otherwise have enjoyed. For example, the latest story to emerge revolves around none other than Michael Jackson rejecting the job with Tupac Shakur just because he was a Biggie fan.
While this isn’t groundbreaking news and doesn’t lead anyone any closer to the truth about the two unsolved murders, it’s interesting to hear that a collaboration between 2Pac and Michael Jackson could have been a reality if King of pop hadn’t aligned with the self-styled King of New York years before being approached by ‘Pac.
These days, an allegiance to a specific musician is often seen as a member of an exclusive faction, leading to cringe-worthy “fandoms” that are usually reserved for chart-topping pop artists and bands like One. Management, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and BTS. It seems ridiculously petty for someone to shun another because they’re a fan of someone else, and yet that seems to have been the case here.
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In the last weeks of his life, Tupac sealed the deal on his fifth studio album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. While the dark, incredibly brooding and nihilistic project, best known for the singles “To Live & Die In LA” and “Hail Mary”, was to be the last LP released by the rapper himself, it interestingly did not feature any notable appearance outside of some of Tupac’s closest associates from his band, The Outlawz and other Death Row Records signees like Bad Azz. The only exception was Aaron Hall and K-Ci & JoJo (of Jodeci) on the New Jack Swing influenced “Toss It Up”.
We now know that none other than Michael Jackson was supposed to be on the album, and he would have been if 2Pac wasn’t at war with Biggie.
Discovered by hip-hop journalist Ural Garrett, who worked on an oral history of the album for BET in honor of Black Music Month, the fascinating little factoid of hip-hop history was revealed by Swedish music producer QDIII, son of legendary producer Quincy Jones.
QDIII had previously worked with Tupac on the album All eyes on me and for The 7 day theory, he was producing a song for the California rapper called “Thug Nature”. Since, like many other hip hop songs throughout history, the cut was to sample Michael Jackson’s hit “Human Nature”, QDIII wanted the pop icon to appear on the track with Tupac and then went on to arranged a meeting between the two titans of music at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
Michael Jackson apparently was quick to close such a request. Not because he found the sample too egregious – many pop stars refused to go along with the rappers, like Australian Gotye who didn’t erase a sample for “Somebody That I Used To Know which was intended for a song by TI and Kendrick Lamar — but, as above, because he’d already chosen a side dish in 2Pac’s beef with Biggie.
“I went up there and talked to Michael about [‘Thug Nature’]“recalls QDIII.
“And do you know what Michael said?” He loved Biggie.
“Human Nature” has been licensed as a sample for many hip hop songs in the past, including Nas’ “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”. So it couldn’t be for any other reason that Jackson just didn’t want to line up with 2Pac in the East Coast vs. West Coast beef.
In 1995, The Notorious BIG worked with Michael Jackson on a song called “This Time Around”, which appeared on the double-disc HIStory: Past Present and Future, Book I album. It seems that moment solidified Jackson’s allegiance, though there was another tidbit that could have been the reason for the rejection.
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According to comedian Boo Kapone, 2Pac and Michael Jackson actually threw each other over a misunderstanding surrounding a young woman at a party. Like Kapone told in podcast a few years ago, Michael and ‘Pac ended up breaking up at a party by a girl named Kidada, who Tupac was interested in and who apparently had a very close platonic relationship with Jackson.
As Kapone recalled:
Michael is like Kidada’s uncle, they are close. He and Quincy Jones have known each other for a long time. Quincy did all his music. She was with Jermaine Jackson’s daughter all the time. So Michael was at a party, there was a barbecue and Kidada sat on Michael’s lap, it was just affection, nothing more. 2pac arrives, along with Big Syke and Mopreme, and 2pac goes crazy. There was so much energy around, he was with Death Row, there was a lot of money, it was 95-96, they were super hot.
“So Kidada was sitting on Michael’s lap, 2pac comes in and sees this and he says, ‘What the hell is she doing sitting on that nigger’s lap? And Michael looks at Pac, and Pac comes in and he grabs Kidada And so she’s in the middle of the two, Pac has his arm, Michael has his arm, there was a start of panic Pac moves Kidada to the side, Michael steps in, words are exchanged and they come to blows Pac attacks first, Pac isn’t one to talk much, he punches first, Michael leans in to dodge and punches him, Pac kicks him, and they end up on the floor and we separate them.
While refusing to be part of a potentially historic collaboration for any of the above reasons seems a bit childish on Michael Jackson’s part, it does show how polarizing 2Pac was during his lifetime and how the rap beef can send shockwaves that affect more behind-the-scenes events than fans seem to realize.
It also shows that it’s not just ordinary citizens who can fall for the immature trappings of fandom. Celebrities have their allegiances too, and if all three were alive today, you can be sure Michael Jackson wouldn’t be caught dead after 2Pac on Instagram.