Michael Jai White Says Tupac Changed Demeanor Around Black People

Michael Jai White often played pool with Tupac Shakur when the young rapper was alive, and he remembered how “goofy” he was—that is until other black people came into the room.

BYErika Marie
Michael Jai White Says Tupac Changed Demeanor Around Black People

Even after death, Tupac Shakur has maintained a reputation of being a gangster rapper. The poet, activist, and art school student was more than the street life persona he often displayed lyrically or in music videos, but because of how he died—in a drive-by shooting after a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas—some people will only view Tupac Shakur as just another hardcore rapper whose life was cut short due to gun violence. Actor Michael Jai White spent quite a bit of time with Tupac when the young emcee was alive, and he told VladTV that not all was what it seemed when it came to the rapper.

In a recent interview, Michael Jai White revealed that he is an avid pool and snooker player, and he shared stories of how he would hang out with other celebrities and play for money. "Tupac and I would play... And what was interesting is that, from my perspective, it was kind of a weird thing with Tupac," he said. "We would play or we'd hang out, and people would say, 'You know your friend looks a lot like Tupac.' Nobody ever thought it was him because the side of him that I knew was so different from what the whole gangster thing."

"I speak the way I speak, no matter who I'm with, right?" Michael Jai White added. "I think that encouraged Tupac, that side of him that was goofy, he felt like, 'Oh, I can just be myself.'" According to White, he and Tupac would do "goofy sh*t" like have multiplication math challenges. "He would be a different kind of dude, but then we would be playing and then all of a sudden he would go back into, 'Yeah n*gga.' [I'd be like] 'Somebody black must have walked into the room. Yep, there it is.' He would turn that on and off." Watch Michael Jai White talk about Tupac Shakur's ability to quickly code-switch below.

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About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.