Tupac Shakur is one of the most revered rappers to ever live – and as he proved on legendary tracks like the Dr. Dre-assisted “California Love,” he was also a brilliant collaborator. But his most mind-blowing alliance never came to fruition: In a recently unveiled handwritten letter likely written in the mid-Nineties, Shakur tells a friend about a planned “group album” called ONE NATION that would have featured Outkast, Scarface, E-40, Buckshot, the Outlawz, Greg Nice and Smif-n-Wessun, Okayplayer reports.
“It’ll be out in the late summer,” Shakur writes to a friend. “WHAT TAPEZ U NEED? I’ll try 2 get some new material 2 U when I can.” The implications of this collaboration are enormous, as it would have united emcees from the country’s oft-rivaled East, West and South factions.
While the ONE NATION project sounds too epic to be true, Okayplayer confirmed the album’s original plan with drummer-producer Questlove, who says the Roots were also approached to take part in this all-star LP during the mid-Nineties.
While ONE NATION is the clear revelation, the letter also provides a fascinating glimpse into Shakur’s creative headspace, relationship with friends and complicated rivalry with rapper Notorious B.I.G. “My record sold 5 million, so I love it like that,” he writes. “I’m tearin B.I.G. a new ass! :)” The rapper signs off on the note with “The World Iz Ourz” and “West Side IV Life.”
An assortment of Shakur’s handwritten notes, lyrics, poems, interview footage, clothing and more are on display as part of “All Eyez on Me: The Writings of Tupac Shakur,” an exhibit that opened February 2nd at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum.