Hip Hop

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Tupac Shakur

Original Demo Tape for Tupac's debut single, "Trapped," ca. November 11, 1990

Lot Closed

July 25, 05:12 PM GMT


6,000 - 9,000 USD

Lot Details


Maxell XL II 90 audio cassette and case with recording of Tupac Shakur's demo tape, "Trapped," ca. November 11, 1990

Autograph labelled "2-PAC" on paper case liner spine, "11.29.90" and "TRAPPED" on paper case liner back in black ballpoint ink

From the personal archives of Monica Lynch, former president of Tommy Boy Records (1981-1998)

This cassette demo tape of “Trapped” by 2-PAC—which would go on to become Tupac Shakur’s debut solo release —was given to Monica Lynch, then-president of Tommy Boy, in November 1990 for signing consideration. It was given to her by the late Shock G of Digital Underground and Atron Gregory, manager for both Digital Underground and Tupac.

At that point, nineteen-year-old Tupac was known primarily as a backup dancer and roadie for Digital Underground (though he would soon have a guest spot on DU’s hit single “Same Song”). According to Gregory, the “Trapped” demo was shopped and turned down by several labels (including Tommy Boy) with dismissals comparing the young Tupac to an also-ran Ice Cube or, perhaps worse, not sounding like anything “special.” 

Several months and label rejections later, Gregory finally landed Tupac a deal at the recently-launched Interscope Records where he was promptly signed by Tom Whalley on August 13, 1991. Tupac’s signing to Interscope – and the dogged promotion of Tupac by recent marketing and sales hire Steve Berman – would propel both the artist and the label on paths to becoming Hip Hop powerhouses.

Set against a bouncy Bay Area funk groove, “Trapped” starkly depicts the paranoia of street life and the day-to-day indignities of police harassment. Life mirrored art when, shortly after the shoot or the Hughes Brothers video for “Trapped,” Tupac sued the Oakland Police Department for $10 million for being brutally scratched across the face by two police officers during a jaywalking stop. The prescient debut revealed the lyrical activism and social commentary that would become a hallmark of his legacy. “Trapped” is frequently cited as an essential Tupac recording.

The commercial single, featuring an LP Version mix and an Instrumental Mix b/w “The Lunatic,” was released on September 25, 1991. “Trapped” led the way for Tupac’s debut album 2Pacalypse, released less than two months later on November 12th, 1991. The LP would infamously earn the wrath of Dan Quayle who demanded that it be pulled from record stores after a defense attorney for a teen suspect accused of killing a Texas state trooper claimed the suspect’s actions were influenced by the album.

“Trapped” was produced by Ramon “Pee Wee” Gooden and includes background vocals by Shock G. It was written by Ray Luv (a friend with whom Tupac appeared in the group Strictly Dope), Ray Tyson and Shakur. It was recorded at Starlight Sound in Richmond, CA and includes samples from “Spank” by James Brown and “Holy Ghost” by The Barkays.

This artifact of Tupac’s earliest solo effort marks the ascent of an extraordinarily talented and charismatic artist whose tumultuous and tragically short-lived career defied gatekeepers’ early rejections and went on to become legend.