September 13 will forever be remembered for the tragic death of rapper/actor Tupac Shakur, but on the upcoming 15-year anniversary of his death, 'Pac's former group the Outlawz hope to turn a negative into a positive as they release their fifth album Perfect Timing.
"What we were trying to do is drop the album and give us enough time to promote the album and set it up, and September just seemed like a good time," explained group member E.D.I. Mean. "It just so happened the 13th was a Tuesday, when albums drop in the U.S., so we were like, 'Why not?' "
The Outlawz were founded by Tupac — who would have turned 40 on Thursday (June 16) — and are best known for their appearance on "Hit 'Em Up," a 1996 dis track aimed at the Notorious B.I.G. Since Shakur's 1996 death, the group has released four albums, beginning with 2000's Ride Wit Us or Collide Wit Us. Though the squad has had a rotating cast of members through the years, the core group — E.D.I. Mean, Young Noble, Hussein Fatal and Kastro — have reunited for this album.
"I think it's been 15 years, and we've seen a lot of rappers come and go in this game, and us being independent artists with a major following, it's just time for real soldiers with a real message to bring some real music back to the game," Noble said. "I think we're the epitome of that."
On Wednesday, after news broke that Dexter Isaac admitted to shooting 'Pac during a 1994 robbery and told AllHipHop.com that it was Shakur associate Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond who set up the heist, the Outlawz responded, telling MTV News that they already knew that information through their relationship with the now-deceased rapper and his lyrics.
"It's not news for us, because this is information that we been had and that been knew about. And we always knew that it'll come out one day, because what's done in the dark always comes to light," E.D.I. Mean said before pointing to Shakur's lyrics as proof. "I just feel like it's verification for what 'Pac said, because a lot of people felt when 'Pac was saying what he was saying on Makaveli that he was out of line for saying that."
Rosemond's lawyer, meanwhile, said Isaac's claims are a "flat-out lie."
In an effort to move past the controversy, the Outlawz hope their upcoming album can spread some positivity. Anchored by lead single "100 MPH" featuring Bun B and Lloyd, the Outlawz promise a smooth ride from the album's beginning to its end. The independent release, which will be distributed by Fontana/Universal, will also feature Young Buck, Tech N9ne and Krayzie Bone, but overall, the group just wants to pay homage to the man who gave them their start.
"The name of the album is Perfect Timing, and we feel like it's perfect timing to drop the album on that date," E.D. said. "Why not drop it on that date and turn a negative day into a positive?"