(AllHipHop Features) Throughout his two-decade career in show business, Keith Robinson has built a connection with the public through roles in popular motion pictures like Dreamgirls, This Christmas, and Get On Up.
The Southern-raised performer is next hitting the big screen as part of the All Eyez On Me cast. Robinson plays Tupac Shakur’s former manager Atron Gregory in the biopic covering the iconic rapper.
Besides acting in cinema, Robinson is also currently appearing on the Bounce TV series Saints & Sinners. He recently released a full album titled Love Episodic and has film scoring credits as well.
I caught up with Keith to talk about his recent movie, television, and music work. The entertainment triple threat shares his thoughts on 2Pac, Power Rangers mania, and more.
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AllHipHop: Can you talk about your role in All Eyez On Me?
Keith Robinson: I play a guy named Atron Gregory who was actually Tupac’s longtime manager. He introduced him to Digital Underground and helped him get on. He was probably his manager for like five or six years, before the Death Row days. If you were behind the scenes, you kind of knew who he was. He was one of the guys that was kind of the voice of reason for Tupac when he was first getting on the scene.
AllHipHop: Did you get a chance to meet with Gregory or anyone that was in Pac’s life at that time?
KR: I talked to him while we were shooting and throughout the process. I conferred with him about different conversations they may have had to get a gauge of the dynamic of their relationship.
AllHipHop: What was your reaction when you found out you were going to be part of this project?
KR: I was excited. I was honored. [Producer] L.T. Hutton and I spoke about it when it was still in development, about five or six years ago. So for us to link up years later when it was up and running was kind of ironic. I’m a huge Tupac fan, so I was honored to be part of the movie.
AllHipHop: You were also in the James Brown movie Get On Up. Do you approach playing a real person different from playing a completely fictional character?
KR: I think when you approach playing a person that did exist you’re more responsible for articulating that character, you don’t really utilize the imagination as much. When it’s a fictional character, what you bring to the table, how you bring it to life, is really on you. You access your imagination a little bit more. So yeah, it’s a little bit different preparation, but it’s all the same research required.
AllHipHop: Did you also contribute to the soundtrack?
KR: I have a song coming out in conjunction with the movie. It’s kind of inspired by the movie. It’s called “Shout Out To The Pain.” It’s me and E.D.I. Mean from the Outlawz. It’ll be out the day the movie comes out. We’re shooting a video. We’re really excited about the single. Me and E.D.I. were on set and sitting around talking about how we need to get in. Right after we wrapped the movie in Atlanta, we were back in LA and got right in the studio to cut the record.
AllHipHop: “Pain” is actually one of my favorite Tupac songs. Do you have any particular Pac songs that you find to be your favorites?
KR: It’s so many – “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” “Hail Mary.” It’s really hard to pick one Tupac record. There are so many that I identify with. I love the whole entire Me Against the World album. It was a classic to me.
AllHipHop: You recently released your own album Love Episodic. Can you talk about the creative process for that project?
KR: Love Episodic was kind of a play on the episodic movie and TV thing. I wanted to make it feel as though when you listen to this body of work, you’re were watching an episode of what I call “an anatomy of a relationship” – the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the things we go through when we relate to one another. We just put it to music.
It’s a lot of live instrumentation. I wrote every song except for one on the album. People have heard songs from me on different soundtracks and scores, but nobody had ever really heard a full body of work from me. This is the first time I’m reintroducing myself to the world because my music is where it starts and ends.
AllHipHop: I noticed your Twitter name is “keithsings.” So do you consider singing your first artistic love?
KR: Yeah, for sure. That’s why I moved out to Hollywood. I was with a group, and we had a deal for a little while. We got out of the deal then came out to LA to get re-signed and move back to Atlanta. I ended up staying out here. The TV and film thing kind of took off out here. But music has always been the center of it all.
AllHipHop: Speaking of TV, you’re starring on Saints & Sinners. You just finished the second season. Is there any talk about coming back for a third season?
KR: There is talk about it. Everybody’s trying to get their ducks in a row. People really seemed to have taken to the show pretty fast. We were kind of overwhelmed with the response, so we’re waiting to see when we can get back.
AllHipHop: There are a lot of people saying they feel like there’s a black renaissance happening on television right now with all these amazing shows with majority black casts. What are your thoughts about that?
KR: I think it’s great. I think it’s about time. I think TV is an art, and Hollywood’s supposed to reflect the diversity of the culture. I think they’re finally understanding that our stories mean something, are worth being told, and there’s an audience. I think we still have some ways to go as far as us being consistent in putting people of color in positions to get stuff made, but it’s definitely a good time to be ethnic in Hollywood. They’re open to making projects to tell our stories now.
AllHipHop: I didn’t realize you started on Power Rangers.
KR: Yeah, that was one of my first TV gigs.
AllHipHop: Do you ever have people recognize you from that show?
KR: Every day. Those fans are diehard fans. They’ll run you down anywhere in the world. They’re like Trekkies. It’s like a worldwide cult.
AllHipHop: You’re acting. You’re singing. You score projects as well. Are there any other areas in the entertainment industry you want to pursue?
KR: I want to get into directing. I want to get behind the camera. I’d definitely like to produce my own projects. I’ve been around it enough to have seen the ins and outs. I think I’d make a pretty good director, so that’s the next goal for me.
AllHipHop: What’s next for you?
KR: After we go through this Pac press, I’ll start another project in the fall depending on when Saints & Sinners comes back. I’m thinking about putting a Christmas album out at the end of the year. Right now, we’re on the road doing spot dates for Love Episodic. That’s first and foremost for the summer.
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All Eyez On Me is scheduled for release on June 16.