Tupac Shakur biological father, William Garland, breaks silence on what he calls the truth behind the relationship between himself and his son.
In January, doors opened at the LA Live for an incredible Tupac exhibit. The ‘Wake Me When I’m Free‘ exhibit dives into the greater meaning of his activism, music, and revolutionary art, as the exhibit educates and enlightens attendees through a labyrinth of emotions, as they take this journey through his extraordinary life.
Many of Tupac’s writings are on display for the world to consume. One of those writings is titled “Chapter One: The Panther and the Gangster.” Tupac writes, “My father is a mystery to me, but I will share what little information I do have with you.” Tupac would go on to describe a man known as “leggs.” Nowhere on that piece of writing was any mention of William Garland. As pointed out by Garland, his name is not even on Tupac’s birth certificate, also on display at the “Wake Me When I’m Free” exhibit.
Perhaps this prompted Garland to respectfully tell his side of the story for the very first time. “TRUE STORY….I had always said that I would never say anything bad about the greatest rapper’s mother. It’s public info now. So when the truth of the matter presents itself I feel the truth should be told,” William Garland began explaining his truth on FB. “For years Pac told me his Mom said his father was dead and that she really didn’t know who his father was. Of course this hurt, but I’m not the first and will not be the last black man to experience this. I could never come to understand this, but it’s time the truth be told.”
As Tupac quoted the classic song by the Temptations ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, Shakur also had his own song describing his fatherless childhood. Prior to releasing his iconic ‘Dear Mama’ single, Tupac released ‘Papa’z Song’ off his second studio album. Although released as a single and with a music video, the song is overlooked when speaking of Tupac’s incredible music catalog.
“Had to play catch by myself, what a sorry sight
A pitiful plight, so I pray, poor starry night
Please send me a pops before puberty
The things I wouldn’t do to see a piece of family unity
Moms always work, I barely see her
I’m startin’ to get worried without a pops I’ll grow to be her,” Tupac ‘Papa’z Song’
“Of course we all know how things happen in our communities. Unfortunately for long period of time she Afeni and him disappeared from my life, Baltimore, Cali until about 1991 with the movie Juice came out. My friend Phil, who also knew Pac as a child, said your son Tupac is in a movie. There I was sitting in a movie watching a kid of mine for the first in years. Everything was good but I’m sure people sitting next to me had to wonder why this grown man had big crocodile tears rolling down his face. But I was happy,” Garland recalled. Tupac’s lead role in ‘Juice’ as Bishop, gave the rapper his first movie break.
Hoping to find a way to reconnect with his, Garland’s old friend and Tupac’s publicist Karen Lee, seemed to be the perfect moment. “In my attempt to reconnect I put my trust in a old friend name Karen Lee who just happen to be his publicist, go figure. Well truth be told Karen and Afeni never really told him about me, for three years. Keep telling me that Pac didn’t want to see me and he needed a little more time before we could hook up. I didn’t know what to do because I believed them. But they were lying,” Garland said.
Unfortunately for Garland and Tupac, the two would finally reunite under the worst of circumstances. Tupac who was shot in 1994 at Quad Studio in New York, was at Bellevue hospital recovering. This is when he finally realized his biological father was indeed alive. “I just went to the hospital. First time we reconnected. It was just unfortunate that a person could lie about a boys father, knowing he wanted one. In Bellevue hospital after the 1st shooting and the moment we saw each other in that room he knew he had a father,” Garland recalled. “He would later say he look up and saw me as old Version of himself, for a second he said he thought he had died. That’s three years of lies and bullsh-t. It just breaks my heart for him to tell me the shit she did. My understanding is he would have heated arguments with her after finding out the truth until he died.”
After being sentenced to a maximum security prison for alleged sexual abuse, according to Garland, he and Tupac would talk for hours. “On one visit he told me he felt the guards were about to make a move on him, physically. For they hated he was rich and famous and that Madonna and other celebrities had come to visit,” Garland said. “Kept threatening him just to see if any outside forces would intervene. On this visit I spent the night at local hotel and had a lawyer friend (actually me) repeatedly calling Clinton Correctional stating that he had heard his client was being targeted for violence. The next day Pac told me every two hours high ranking guards would come check on him and ask if he was alright. Next day I told him what I did and we laughed and he said, ‘Good looking out Popz I love you man.’ Sh-t that’s all I needed.”
Garland was not done yet in his effort to help his son. According to Tupac’s biological father, he reached out to Rev. Al Sharpton for help. “When I got back to Jersey, I reached out Rev. Al Sharpton and ask if there was anything he could do to help with the safety of my son. Before I knew it, Rev (love this man) went to Clinton upstate NY, 55 miles from Montreal, met with the warden demanded his safety with our concerns, he was never threatened by the guards again. On my next visit he smile at me and said, ‘Thanks Popz, Sharpton told me what u did,'” William Garland revealed. “Only reason I’m telling now, I might get hit by a bus or die from cancer and no one would ever KNOW.”