Throwback Thursday: 2Pac – “To Live and Die in L.A.”
2pac would’ve 51 years old on this very fine Thursday, so you already know what’s about to happen.
The rapper was born and raised on the East Coast, but when he rapped about Los Angeles on “To Live and Die in L.A.,” he did so like it was the only city he had ever known. The song was released less than two months after the rapper’s death as the second single from The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, his first posthumous album. It was produced by QDIII — son and namesake of legendary producer Quincy Jones and older brother of Kidada Jones, Pac’s girlfriend at the time.
QDIII says “To Live and Die in L.A.” was born out of a few old tracks he played for Pac. The rapper is said to have responded to one in particular and asked for a beat with that sound — the anecdote doesn’t say what track, but we’re assuming it was Prince’s “Do Me, Baby,” which is sampled on “To Live and Die in L.A.” QDII returned later that day with a finished beat, which Pac then listen to three times and then wrote lyrics for in 15 minutes. He then recorded his verses in one take.
After Pac recorded the verses, the concept of the song was explained to singer Val Young, who then came up with a hook and recorded it in one take as well. The fact that she’s uncredited is an injustice, but I digress. According to QDIII, the entire song was complete in under two hours.
The music video for “To Live and Die in L.A.” was filmed on July 23, 1996, the same day the radio edit of the song was recorded. Even though it was second single, it was the first video shot for the Killuminati album — the “Toss It Up” video, thought released first, was shot a week before Pac’s death. The video for “To Live and Die in L.A.” would become the last one where audiences would get to see 2Pac alive.
Long live Tupac Amaru Shakur!