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Michael Jai White says Tupac acted 'all gangsta' in front of others but was quite 'goofy' in reality

The action movie star talked about his friendship with Tupac Shakur in a recent interview, offering some personal insights on the iconic hip-hop star's life
Rapper Tupac Shakur and Michael Jai White (Getty Images)
Rapper Tupac Shakur and Michael Jai White (Getty Images)

When it comes to rap culture, being viewed as a tough, no-nonsense gangsta is paramount for your street cred. And no one knew that more than the late Tupac Shakur, aka 2Pac, best remembered as one of the most iconic rappers of our modern era. But according to his friend, the beloved action movie star Michael Jai White, Tupac was also an extremely thoughtful and goofy young man once you got past the many layers of his carefully crafted public persona.

Known for his gritty thug-life image as well as his radically honest social commentary, Tupac was a multi-faceted OG who changed the landscape of gangsta rap in its heyday, alongside legends like Ice-T, NWA, Public Enemy, The Notorious B.I.G, Nas and many more. The celebrated rapper was gunned down in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting in 1996, an eye-opening moment when it came to the proliferation of gang culture and gun violence in the hip-hop industry. The seminal rapper is sadly no longer with us, the reverberations of his death are still being felt and sung about in modern-day music today.  

Although he was hailed for his tough-as-nails ghetto attitude, people close to the enigmatic Tupac have often talked about what a revolutionary and insightful figure he actually was. White, star of films like 'Spawn', 'Exit Wounds', and 'The Dark Knight' recently talked about playing pool with his friend Tupac in an interview with VladTV. In the course of the talk, the actor and one-time pool hustler revealed that the Tupac Shakur he knew was sillier and friendlier, quite unlike the badass that everyone perceived him to be. 

"The side of him that I knew was so different than the whole gangster thing,” White stated. He admitted that Tupac felt comfortable enough around him to exhibit his goofy nature and that people didn't even realize it was Tupac playing pool with White, because he was "too goofy" to be the gangsta rapper they had heard about. Apparently, they would even throw friendly challenges like multiplication games at each other, the stuff that nerds in school would usually indulge in.


White also revealed that there would be times when Tupac would abruptly change his tone to sound gruffer and more gangsta. Whenever that happened, White would conclude, “Somebody black must have walked in the room,” because "he would turn that on and off" depending on who was there with them. That's not to say that Tupac was being disingenuous or fronting, he was merely a multi-faceted, larger-than-life star who knew that surviving life on the streets was all about gaining respect from his peers by portraying a public persona. As White later revealed, "He was such a natural actor."