Tupac Tribute: Candyman 187 of Tha Havenotz

Tupac Amaru Shakur fathered so many minds in Hip-Hop. Many people, if given the chance to have dinner with anybody, would opt for Tupac. At 13 years old, Candyman 187’s father-figure became the late, great rapper who died nine years ago, today.

Chances are, you haven’t heard of Candyman. That guessed, you’re probably unaware of Tupac’s other group that was in formation at the end of his tragic but full life. Now working with Pac’s mentor, Shock G, Candyman 187 explains to AllHipHop.com who Tha Havenotz were, what they meant to Pac, and just how misunderstood the man may’ve been.

As Pac’s unreleased work continues to surface at a rapid rate, admire one of his unreleased protégés who’s just now ready to reveal the jewels bestowed upon him in Pac’s estate.

AllHipHop.com: Who’s presently in Tha Havenotz?

Candyman 187: It’s me, Shock G., Money B., Donnie Rizzo, Storm, Ray Luv, and Mac Mall. We also have extended family, Treach from Naughty by Nature, Mutulu and Afeni Shakur, Fatal Hussein, and a couple of other brothers from back in the day.

AllHipHop.com: Who were the founding members?

Candyman 187: It was originally me, Tupac, and Yaki Khadafi.

AllHipHop.com: The album was originally scheduled to come out before Pac’s death. After the tragedy,the project was put on hold, but what took so long to get it out?

Candyman 187: I was like 13 when Pac died – now I’m 22. After Pac and Kadafi passed, my world came crumbling down. Pac was like a brother to me. He took me in as a kid. It all took a lot out of me. I was like, “F**k the Rap game.” But I always credit Dr. Mutlu Shakur, Yaasmyn Fula [Khadafi’s mom] and Moreen Shakur as being people that lifted me up again. They were like, “This meant too much to Pac. He did this for you. You can’t give it up now. You’re the only surviving member, so you go to get back on it to really do it.” Everyone was down to get on and help me with it. It became the dream that Pac originally had for it.

AllHipHop.com: Being that young, how did you and Pac first hook up?

Candyman 187: To cut a long story short, I was doing a lot of dumb stuff when I was a kid. People that knew Pac or even fans know what he called, “Candy.” During our first meeting he was like, “Oh, so you must be the Candy Man?” The “187,” came later because there was another cat, “Knock’n booty Candy Man,” doing his thing, so we changed it.

At the time, I used to write poetry. Pac was the most humble man that I had ever met. He was like, “Yo, I heard that you do poetry? Let me hear it.” I read a little of it for him and then he told me to rap it. I said that I couldn’t rap. He said what do you think my rapping is? That’s my poetry. You have to put feelings into it. He took me aside and over the course of time, showed me how to rap. Pac was a teacher. I guess he took a liking to me. He took me in as a little brother and became that role model for me.

AllHipHop.com: How did the project come together?

Cm187: The idea for the Havenotz was around as far back as the Digital [Underground] days. On “Holla If You Hear Me,” the original version that was not released, Pac shouted out to the Havenotz. He said, “5-0 can’t fade the Havenotz.” His idea was there. We were the young cats that really didn’t give a f**k. We were the wild bunch. When he said, “T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.: The Hate that U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody.” We were those little infants. It was me, Pac and [Khadafi]. We were gonna be the craziest cats out there. Plus we had Thug Life and Outlawz backing us. Who was gonna f**k with us?

AllHipHop.com: In reviving Tha Havenotz, Shock G has been very instrumental. Tell me about how that happened…

Candyman 187: I ran into him two years back at a Tupac birthday bash that I had put together. It was also a Prisoners of War fundraiser for Pac’s step-father, Dr. Mutulu Shakur. I ran into him and Money B. We vibed off of each other and when I got back into the Rap game, they was like, “What do you need brother?” Everybody that was real family to Pac, felt that they need to protect me, like they have to do for me what they couldn’t do for him at times. Shock, Money and the rest of the crew have created a wall around me. They have always watched out for me. When I was working on the solo album, they would give me advice. They’re family to me.

AllHipHop.com: What’s the name of your solo album and when will it be available?

Candyman 187: I’m putting out a solo album along with the group album. The group album should be out in the later end of the summer. My solo should be out in a week or so. I haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will most likely be called, The End of the Line. Shock did a remix of “So many Tears.” We changed up the beat a little bit, so it’s not even called that anymore. It’s a dedication track.

AllHipHop.com: What about the Havenotz project?

Candyman 187: My solo and the Havnotz, right now were looking for the right label and the right offer. It’s not just the money, but about freedom. We don’t want to be on a label that limits what we say and what we do. Coming from where we come from and this whole thing being Pac’s baby, it’s gotta be better than just the average album.

AllHipHop.com: Are the original Havenotz tracks still in tact or have you changed them since?

Candyman 187: There are a couple of surprises in store for you all. It won’t be out anytime soon, but definitely some surprises.

AllHipHop.com: Okay, okay. So, was the media hyped persona the same Pac that you knew?

Candyman 187: No, not at all. The Pac that I knew was a very loving and caring person. He was truthful and a times a serious person, a teacher. The media personified the image of Pac when they had him almost, cased up. Pac didn’t come out to war with the world. It wasn’t until the world came at him, did he go right back at them. That’s Panther principals, but for any man really. Pac wasn’t about to let anyone say anything about him and get away with it. The rapper Pac was Tupac the rapper. Tupac the person, he was different than what everyone saw him as. He was a real thug; he was a real dude and wouldn’t back down from anyone. But there was also a loving and caring side that made him come to a cat like me and others that were coming up. He was a celebrity, but also made time to call, talk or drop food off at my house. That was the Pac that I knew. He was the same person that told me that thugs cry. Real men don’t, but thugs do. The love was his essence. He put money in my hand and made me promise to graduate. He put his chain around my neck saying, “Keep this, you’re a Havenot.” It’s a part of me.

AllHipHop.com: What are some misconceptions that people have about Pac?

CM: Like [the way] Ali boxed, Pac rapped to get his point across. He was very articulate, but he knew for him to reach the world and other cats in the street he would have to be their CNN. He was an educated as hell. You could sit down and have a conversation with him about any subject and he would probably know more than you. He was a thug; he wasn’t backing down from anyone. He used to say that they can take everything away from you, but not your mind. That’s something that I will always remember til’ the day that I pass. I give thanks and praise to him for that.

AllHipHop.com: I really want to focus on Pac’s final days. Firstly, was Tha Havenotz project supposed to come out through Death Row? There’s speculation over Pac’s focus at the end of his life…

Candyman 187: I don’t know. As far as I know, it was supposed to be released on Makavelli Records. We have nothing but for love for Death Row, but none of us were artists for them.

AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about Suge’s use of Pac’s persona after his death?

Candyman 187: That’s what Pac would have wanted. Pac would want his music out there. Suge was around Pac a lot when he was on Death Row. I love both albums that they put out. They’ve put out a lot of good albums. To me, that’s him honoring Pac. That’s Suge paying his respects. To make sure that what Pac would want out there, is out there. Someone recently asked me if I thought that Pac had changed when he joined up with Death Row. I told him, “No. Pac changed when he got shot and sent to jail. Death Row probably added on an extra year to his life. Them getting him out of jail and added on some extra life to him. Suge loved Pac. They were live together. You can’t take that from anyone. They held him down when the world was against him.” Thug Life, Death Row, the Outlawz and Havenotz were with him. We were like, “We’re gonna ride or die with this cat.”

AllHipHop.com: How will you continue to educate on Pac’s legacy?

Candyman 187: We’re about to put this book out to show that even at birth, Pac and [deceased Outlaw member] Yak [Khadafi] were inseparable. They went through everything together. They couldn’t be separated for too long. Two months after Pac passed, Yak did as well. It will be called, The King and the Prince: the Legacy and Life of Tupac Shakur and Yaki Fula. We went through a lot of old pictures. It’s pictures that you may have seen and a lot that you haven’t. People will get to view inside their lives and at the same time get a little history about it. It’ll be a cool book. It should be out in a few weeks.

AllHipHop.com: That’s s dope. I know a lot of people would be into reading something like that. I would say mothers and the youth. They can read it with their kids that are into the rawer side. It will show balance.

Candyman 187: That’s the thing that people don’t realize about Pac. He was versatile. He could release a song like, “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” but then at the same time release something completely different. People don’t touch on his loving and caring side. They really need to look at those things. Pac was as real as he could be. He even said it himself, that he wasn’t the best rapper out there, but he was the realest. That’s how I try to be. All I’m trying to do is be the realest that Candyman I can be. I may not be a real a Tupac. I’m not Tupac. And for those out there that are looking for Pac to come back, well I’m sorry, but I’m not him. I’m going to take the little bit of game that he gave me and use that. I’m gonna take the little bit of game that Shock G, Yaasmyn, Money B and Mutulu gave me and use that. You’re gonna hear that little bit of Pac in me because he taught me to flow, but none of us are him. The Outlawz are out there doing their thing, they love and respect him, but their not going to be him. Same goes for Thug Life. And that’s how you know the realness of the man. None of them changed, they all stayed the same. Even after his death. Now that’s what realness is.

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