What are your plans after prison?
I'm going to team up with Mike Tyson when we get out. Team up with Monster Kody [now known as Sanyika Shakur] from California. I'm going to start an organization called Us First. I'm going to save these young niggas, because nobody else want to save them. Nobody ever came to save me. They just watch what happen to you. That's why Thug Life to me is dead. If it's real, then let somebody else represent it, because I'm tired of it. I represented it too much. I was Thug Life. I was the only nigga out there putting my life on the line.
Has anybody else been there for you?
Since I've been in here I got about 40 letters. I got little girls sending me money. Everybody telling me that God is with me. People telling me they hate the dudes that shot me, they're going to pray for me. I did get one letter, this dude telling me he wished I was dead. But then I got people looking out for me, like Jada Pinkett, Jasmine Guy, Treach, Mickey Rourke. My label, Interscope Records, has been extremely supportive. Even Madonna.
Can you talk about your relationship with Madonna and Mickey Rourke?
I was letting people dictate who should be my friends. I felt like because I was this big Black Panther type of nigga, I couldn't be friends with Madonna. And so I dissed her, even though she showed me nothing but love. I felt bad, because when I went to jail, I called her and she was the only person that was willing to help me. Of that stature. Same thing with Mickey Rourke-he just befriended me. Not like black and white, just like friend to friend. And from now on, it's not going to be a strictly black thing with me. I even apologized to Quincy Jones for all the stuff I said about him and his wives. I'm apologizing to the Hughes Brothers...but not John Singleton. He's inspiring me to write screenplays, because I want to be his competition. He fired me from Higher Learning and gave my idea to the next actor.
Do you worry about your safety now?
I don't have no fear of death. My only fear is coming back reincarnated. I'm not trying to make people think I'm in here faking it, but my whole life is going to be about saving somebody. I got to represent life. If you saying you going to be real, that's how you be real-be physically fit, be mentally fit. And I want niggas to be educated. You know, I was steering people away from school. You gotta be in school, because through school you can get a job. And if you got a job, then that's how they can't do us like this.
Do you think rap music is going to come under more attack, given what's happened to you?
Oh, definitely. That's why they're doing me like this. Because if they can stop me, they can stop 30 more rappers before they even born. But there's something else I understand now: If we really are saying rap is an art form, then we got to be true to it and be more responsible for our lyrics. If you see everybody dying because of what you saying, it don't matter that you didn't make them die, it just matters that you didn't save them.
You mentioned Marvin Gaye in "Keep Ya Head Up." A lot of people have compared you to him, in terms of your personal conflicts.
That's how I feel. I feel close to Marvin Gaye, Vincent van Gogh.
Why van Gogh?
Because nobody appreciated his work until he was dead. Now it's worth millions. I feel close to him, how tormented he was. Him and Marvin too. That's how I was out there. I'm in jail now, but I'm free. My mind is free. The only time I have problems is when I sleep.
So you're grateful to be where you are now?
It's a gift-straight-up. This is God's will. And everybody that said I wasn't nothing...my whole goal is to just make them ashamed that they wrote me off like that. Because I'm 23 years old. And I might just be my mother's child, but in all reality, I'm everybody's child. You know what I'm saying? Nobody raised me; I was raised in this society. But I'm not going to use that as an excuse no more. I'm going to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and I'm going to make a change. And my change is going to make a change through the community. And through that, they gonna see what type of person I truly was. Where my heart was. This Thug Life stuff, it was just ignorance. My intentions was always in the right place. I never killed anybody, I never raped anybody, I never committed no crimes that weren't honorable-that weren't to defend myself. So that's what I'm going to show them. I'm going to show people my true intentions, and my true heart. I'm going to show them the man that my mother raised. I'm going to make them all proud.