When “Juice” was released 20 years ago on January 17, 1992, the performance of noted rapper but first-time actor Tupac Shakur took critics by surprise. The socially aware, politically driven MC lit up the screen as fiery, gun-crazed thug Bishop. It was a departure from the rapper hip-hop had come to know through more positive songs like “Brenda’s Got a Baby.”
A year after “Juice” premiered, ’Pac went on to release his second album, Strictly 4 My N.-.-.-.A.Z., before experiencing legal trouble, then a serious rap beef with the Notorious B.I.G. a few years after that and, of course, his murder in 1996. Some believe that after “Juice,” Tupac took on the persona of the fictional and troublesome Bishop, and as a result, his life experienced a downward spiral.
Not the case, said ’Pac’s friend, “Juice” co-star and Naughty by Nature rapper Treach. “I would definitely disagree with it,” Treach said without reservation when he appeared on Wednesday’s (January 18) episode of “RapFix Live.” “Bishop didn’t make Tupac; Tupac made Bishop.”
Treach — who appeared in the film and, along with Naughty by Nature, contributed the ’90s rap hit “Uptown Anthem” to the movie’s soundtrack — revealed that he originally read for the role of Bishop. Things didn’t go so well, however, and when Shakur auditioned immediately after him, Treach knew his buddy would get the film’s starring role.
Tupac’s mother and father were both members of the Black Panther Party, and Treach believes that ’Pac’s exposure to the progressive and militant movement helped prep him for the role.”He grew up a soldier; he grew up learning different lessons on the streets that not even I had known about,” he said.
“He knew different stuff from different facets of life,” Treach added. “That’s what made him be able to get into that character like that and make that character seem so real, because he had his own life experiences that made him phenomenal at bringing that out through the music and through the film.”
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