by Adario Strange
It was the latter half of 1993, just one week before Tupac made headlines by being accused of rape in a Manhattan hotel room. I had just come back from a six month stay in the Bay Area, and I was now producing tracks at a Mid-town, Manhattan studio on 36th street called Skyline Studios. One night I was sleeping over at my cousin’s house in the Bronx when something told me to call my friend Arzie Hardin (who I sometimes worked with on studio projects) at the studio. Turns out he was at Skyline working on a session with the then un-signed and unknown female rapper Queen Pin (who later joined Teddy Riley & Blackstreet). He was doing her demo and asked me to come down and sit in on the session.
Once I got there, to my surprise, Tupac and his entourage were on the scene. At this point Tupac’s entourage consisted of a then unknown Biggie Smalls (who came off very shy and introverted), and Stretch of the group Live Squad. I soon found out that Queen Pin had managed to get Tupac (then riding high on his first real hit „I Get Around„) to rhyme on her demo tape. But after an hour of trying to find a track that suited Tupac, everyone was getting a frustrated, and Tupac was threatening to leave. At the time, I was known for always carrying around a tape of my beats; so I pulled Tupac to the side and gave him an impromptu listening session while everyone else was taking a stress break in the lounge area. To my advantage, my recent stay in California had turned me from an East Coast only beat-maker into a West Coast funk-rap producer, so Tupac soon found a track on my tape that got him excited. Unfortunately for Queen Pin, Tupac liked the track so much, he decided he wanted it for himself. So after a depressed Queen Pin accepted the detour, we went to work on „Who Do You Luv?“
Originally, the track was supposed to feature Tupac, Stretch, „and“ Biggie. But while the other two whipped up their verses in 30 minutes, Biggie just couldn’t seem to come up with a flow, and finally trudged out of the studio session never to be seen again. We wound up working on the song for about three days, and when we were done we knew that this was the perfect marriage of West Coast beats with East Coast grittiness. Interscope made a check out to me and my boy Arzie (who engineered and co-produced the session) and that was that. To this day „Who Do You Luv?“ is one of my favorite Tupac tracks not because I produced it, but because he was using a particularly unique rhyme style that he generally abandoned when he went to Death Row Records. The sound quality on the song is poor because over the years my reference recording has been through some wear and tear. Subsequently I got to hang out with Tupac at various times, most notably right after his release from prison in 1995. Our last time together, we were in an apartment in Los Angeles with the rest of his Outlaw Immortal crew, and Tupac was raging with energy now that he was free of prison life. I hate that he left the world the way he did, in a hail of bullets in Las Vegas. But I respect the fact that he’s one of the few people I’ve ever known who truly lived life on their own terms.