On November 30, 1994, Tupac Shakur was in Ron G's New York apartment laying down vocals for the popular mixtape DJ's next series. Shakur was then interrupted by a phone call from Jimmy Rosemond, then known as Jimmy Henchman.
"I was managing a kid by the name of Little Shawn, who was signed to Uptown Records," Rosemond explained. "And so [Uptown founder] Andre Harrell had asked me, 'Could we get Tupac on this record?' And I had called Tupac and said, 'Hey, do you wanna get on this record? Because Andre wants you on this record.' "
Rosemond says the story of Tupac's Quad Studios shooting that night has been twisted more times than a gangbanger's fingers. According to him, the scene wasn't nearly as empty as it has often been reported. Rosemond said there were plenty of people in attendance that night — including the Trackmasters and Harrell — but the story seems to always boil down to him and Bad Boy, he said. The Trackmasters and Harrell did not return interview requests made by MTV News by press time.
"What people don't understand is that Trackmasters were there, Puffy came down to say hi to me, and Andre Harrell — Andre Harrell was there," he said. "There was a guy by the name of Mark Sigel; he was the president of ICM at the time, ICM the agency talent group. You had Trackmasters, Little Shawn, Bryce Wilson — there was about 15 people there. So people in their mind, when they hear this story, they think it was just a bunch of guys, including me, trying to summon Tupac to the studio for no reason, on some hangout stuff. But it was all business. I was doing business that day as I have done, before then and after that. But as the story went on, the fairy tale of it got bigger, which really wasn't the truth."
And that fairy tale has been twisted even further in recent weeks. The Los Angeles Times published a story March 17 that claimed Rosemond masterminded the 1994 shooting and that Diddy and the Notorious B.I.G. knew it was going down. The story has since been debunked by TheSmokingGun.com, which reported that the article was based on forged documents, and the Times in turn printed a front-page apology.
Rosemond has vehemently denied having advance knowledge of Shakur's ambush, as the L.A. Times reported then retracted. But he said the story grew once the rapper put it to record, on "Against All Odds," and Rosemond had no chance to retaliate. He said he had his own theory about what happened in the lobby that night.
"It's odd for me to assess it only because there are so many rumors out there," he said. "There are so many guys that take blame for things that they haven't really done. And maybe some of them have; it isn't really for me to try to figure that out. I have my own theories in my head of what happened that night: When 'Pac came out the elevator [after being shot], he was conscious, he was talking, he was rolling up some weed. I didn't see five bullet holes in Tupac, as reported. You can ask Andre Harrell and all these people that was there."
In an interview Rosemond gave to Vibe magazine a few years ago, he recalled Shakur being discombobulated and shouting, asking Rosemond why he set him up. But when Shakur recorded "Against All Odds," implicating Rosemond in his shooting, the talent manager (for the Game and Gucci Mane) called the song "Tupac at his finest" and "shock treatment."
"When you listen to the record, he called out Jay-Z, he called out Nas, he called out Puffy, he called out almost everybody," Rosemond said. "I mean, this is Tupac at his finest. What I've learned of 'Pac, for him to do, and some rappers try it now, it's more of the shock treatment. At the time when he mentioned my name, it was the in thing to do. It was the in thing to call Puffy's name. It was the in thing to call Jay-Z's name during his rise. And what I want people to be clear about, when he did mention my name, I wasn't even on the streets. I was already away [in prison] dealing with some legal issues I had. So I wasn't even here, so by the time he mentioned my name on the record, there was no way I could defend that, ask him why he did that, or any of those things.
"Absolutely never [had I] even know about it, never heard about it — before, afterward — had nothing to with it," Rosemond added about the ambush. "Nobody that I know [was] associated with [the attack], and this is why I have confidently, in the last 14 years, told people that they can dig up whatever they want to dig up. And I've been very firm in what I've said to people: that I've had nothing to do with it."