In the late summer, Suge had called Norris who called me into the backroom. He said, ‘Riskie, it’s the album cover for Makaveli. The idea is kind of crazy. You’re not going to believe it. But I know you can do it.
That’s when he told me Pac’s idea about the crucifixion. So I got straight onto it.
I took a map and started cutting up pieces. It was something that came from within me. I totally saw what Pac had put within me. It was the first time I’d done some art museum kind of shit. Maps and glueing them.
On Friday September 6th 1996, a girl I was friends with who had just started up at Death Row, Junella, drove me up to Pac’s Wilshire house in the afternoon. Roy Tesfay and Norris Anderson, the two guys who ran the office, had sent me to present the Makaveli drawings to Pac. When I got there, I was greeted by the OUtlawz. Pac was in the shower and the OUtlawz were all chilling in the living room area, watchin a 36” TV while the bright neon lights of Pac’s Thug Mansion sign beamed down on us. I wished I had a TV like that.
Muta stepped in the other room to let Pac know I was there. I heard him whisper, "He’s got a girl with him." Ten minutes later, Pac entered the room, shirt off, exposing all his tattoos, jewelry everywhere. I thought to myself, “I’m glad I’m not with Junella cuz this nigga would have just tried to take my girl!"
I stood up from the couch, walked over, gave him a pound and said, "What’s up, Pac? Here’s the completed artwork for Makaveli." I handed him two photocopies of the cover that I did and the back inlay drawing Hen Dogg and I both worked on. He looked at them. "They tight!" he said. "I love ‘em both. Y’all did ya thang. Come walk with me."
We started off towards his dining room area.
I need you to do some art for these walls. They naked. When we make it back from this Vegas trip, we’re going to work on an art show for you. Suge has just bought me a supply room full of canvases and paint for the event.
I was so excited and exclaimed, "Done deal. I can’t wait."
We wrapped up the rest of the conversation, said our goodbyes and finally left Pac’s place close to 7pm. We were in a rush as Death Row Records was about to close and we were about to get off work. Plus I had to hurry back to the office because I rode with Greg. Greg was George ‘Papa G’ Pryce’s assistant in Public Relations. We were leaving tonight headed for Vegas. We both had to work and wanted to go to Club 662. It was the Mike Tyson fight weekend.
When I got home, I packed my clothes and waited for Greg, trying to spend as much time with my daughter who had just been born three days earlier. Greg and I left at 9.30pm with a couple of other co-workers from the office and finally arrived in Vegas at 5am.
First stop was the Mirage. We hung out there, saw the white tigers and headed out to our room. Most of the Death Row entourage was staying at the Luxor hotel but we had gone late and had to get rooms the other side of town. We crashed out, getting up at 1pm, met up to eat and headed out to hang out til it was time to hit up Club 662. We ended up at the MGM Grand. It was late afternoon. Greg and I were playing at a crap table. I looked up and saw Suge, Tupac and the whole entourage coming our way. We said, "What’s up"’ to everyone. That was it. We couldn’t leave the table and everyone was moving in a hurry. We played the tables for another hour before returning to the hotel to chill out and watch the fight.
Then we hit Club 662. It was packed. I’d never been here before so I was kind of excited from hearing all the stories from the big homies from the neighborhood. There were large pictures of every Death Row artist on the walls. I can’t say I fell in love with the Pepto-bismol pink walls but the atmosphere was electric. Run DMC were going to be performing that night.
Around 11pm, the club was live but still no Suge or Pac and Run DMC was about to go on. I saw Low from OFTB (a rap group from Watts signed to Death Row). We talked for a minute, took some photos and watched Run DMC perform.
After the performance, word went round that there had been a shooting and Pac and Suge were involved. I didn’t know what to think or believe. I saw nothing with no proof. Everything was merely speculation to me. All I knew was there was still no Suge or Pac to be seen. I was used to them always showing up late. Then suddenly there was a surprise. Everybody in Club 662 just went into shock when Craig Mack hit the stage saying he was no longer affiliated with Bad Boy and that his new label was Death Row. The night went on. Everyone was confused and people started to leave the club. Suge and Pac never showed. What the hell was that about? Greg and I left about 2.30am.
When we got to our room, it was around 3.30am. I grabbed the TV remote control. There on the TV all the speculations, rumours and talk had just been confirmed on every channel. Greg and I looked on hysterically to hear that Suge and Pac had been involved in a drive-by shooting while in their convoy. Our phone calls gave no answers so we crashed, being woken early next morning by Papa G telling us we needed to return to LA as soon as possible for damage control. Everybody was going up to the hospital. We decided not to and made our way to LA before traffic hit.
I had gone from the most defining moment of my life to having it turned on its head. But the craziness had only just begun…
Words by Nina Bhadreshwar