Rosemond Responds To L.A. Times/Tupac Story

Artist manager Jimmy Rosemond has spoken to Billboard in response to a now-discredited Los Angeles Times story that he was involved, with Sean "Diddy" Combs, in a 1994 assault on late rapper Tupac Sha

Artist manager Jimmy Rosemond has spoken to Billboard in response to a now-discredited Los Angeles Times story that he was involved, with Sean "Diddy" Combs, in a 1994 assault on late rapper Tupac Shakur.

Earlier this month, Times reporter Chuck Philips wrote a story implicating both Rosemond and Combs in the incident. But this week, Phillips and his supervisor, deputy managing editor Marc Duvoisin, apologized. This followed an investigation launched by editor Russ Stanton after The Smoking Gun Web site reported the paper was conned by a prisoner, James Sabatino, who apparently doctored the documents.

Rosemond, who manages the Game and Gucci Mane, says he'll be suing the newspaper for damages.

How did the rumor of you assaulting Tupac arise?

Jimmy Rosemond: The rumor was always there. But when a person like L.A. Times Pulitzer Prize-winner Chuck Phillips writes about it, the folklore becomes real for my life and everybody's life around me. I've done business with the rumors but this article was different.

The thing that bothers me the most about Chuck Phillips is that myself, along with my attorney, emailed him and his chief editor saying we don't know where you are getting your information from but whatever you're about to write is going to be a lie because we just know that there ain't no truth to this. This was before the article came out, and Phillips emailed us back stating that he would not be frightened out of writing his truth with scare tactics. Then his editor also emailed back stating that they were going to stand behind Chuck Phillips' story. We blatantly tried to warn them that they were getting into something that they had no idea what it was.

This happens to a lot of people who love hip-hop, the fans of hip-hop and the people who work in hip hop. We let outsiders come in and tell us stories about things that we're really close to, when they have no factual basis. The L.A. Times had no reason of even writing the story or trying to figure this out unless they dealt with the actual players in the whole incident. I am talking about, and what people don't really understand, is that Andre Harrell asked Tupac to come to the studio with Little Sean in the first place. I was just managing Little Sean. Andre Harrell was there with me waiting on Tupac to get there and record a record. It's well-known that Andre Harrell was there. Why hasn't anyone interviewed Andre Harrell and asked him what happened?

The focus has always been on me, Biggie and Puffy. Chuck Phillips didn't uphold any journalistic integrity and that's what gets me upset.

What about the rumor that you admitted, in Ethan Brown's "Queens Reigns Supreme" book, to assaulting Shakur in the Quad Studios elevator before he was shot that night in 1994?

JR: I have never said anything like that. I told Ethan what I thought happened, which was I think Tupac knew his shooter. I think it's a shame that we can't ask Tupac. But when he made that record "Against All Odds," that's the only real implication that puts me in this whole thing.

He mentioned me in that same record along with Jay-Z and Nas. But you have to remember, Tupac was like 24 years old. This is a guy who was wild. Tupac would say anything for the shock [value] of his records. I think when he made that record, he did it with that intention and to dis Nas, Jay-Z, Puffy, Biggie and me.

In "Queens Reigns Supreme," I tell Ethan what I thought happened because the five-shot theory doesn't work for me. The Trackmasters' Tone and Poke were there because they were A&R's for Little Sean. Bryce Wilson was there because he was producing the record. Mark Siegel was the president of Uptown Records and then you had Andre who was the CEO of Uptown Records. Ask them what happened.

Tupac was walking around laughing. I only saw one bullet hole, so this whole five-shot theory never made sense. Tupac was walking around, he had a little bit of blood dripping from his head and he was laughing, rolled up a spliff and waited for the ambulance. It was just irresponsible on Chuck Phillips' part to throw me under the bus like that from information he gathered from government informants that had lengthy sentences.

I don't even know who James Sabatino is and for me to conspire with him to do anything ... is ridiculous. He's 30 years old now, so this guy was 16 or 17 years old when this incident happened? I'm 43 year old man. Then I was in my 30s and I was hanging out with a 16-year-old? There is no way.

What's your next legal action?

JR: I am talking to several attorneys and we are seeing what our legal options are. Whatever that is, we are going to do it to the fullest extent of the law; civilly, criminally or whatever.

Have you ever lost clients because of these stories?

Yeah, absolutely. There's a few guys that won't meet with me because of this. In fact, I was in L.A. when the story broke and there were people who would not meet with me in public because of the story. That was when I pretty much realized that maybe my life was in danger. That's when it really sunk in.

Still, in all fairness, you have a criminal past. How do you balance that fact with accusations of this specific assault?

JR: I think that people need to judge me by the way I do business. I've been in the music business for the last 16 years and I've been very consistent. There aren't a bunch of guys running around saying that I've hung them out of a window and made them sign over their publishing, or, "He beat me up until I signed a contract." I don't have those kinds of things happening. Maybe there are rumors like that but none of those things are factual. Over the years I've been called all kinds of things, including an extortionist, but where are the people that I am supposed to be doing these things to? I don't think nobody would stay silent this long.