On Sept. 13, 1996, the world lost one of its most iconic musical influences when Tupac Shakur died after a fatal drive-by shooting six days earlier.
Looking back, rap superstar Yo-Yo remembers being at her then-boyfriend’s side while he was treated for his wounds in the hospital. “When I left Pac that day, I just knew that Pac was going to survive,” she says. “When they called me and said that Pac didn’t make it, it just hurt my spirit because I felt like, ‘Damn, if had known he wasn’t going to make it, I would have never left.”
That’s what Yo-Yo tells singer-songwriter Shea Diamond on the latest episode of Billboard’s Pridecast, the new podcast from Billboard Pride, where some of the most influential names in music talk about how they got to where they are today.
While her memories of the rap legend’s death are painful, Yo-Yo says that she chooses to remember all of the goodness that came with their relationship. “What made me love him so much is that he really cared for the community,” she says. “I always think, and I say to myself, ‘You know, everything that I am is everything he thought I would be.’ It makes me feel good.”
Tupac isn’t the only rapper Yo-Yo is looking back on. Speaking with Shea, the star also gave a special shout-out to one of her rap icons, Missy Elliott, for recognizing her talent early on in her career. “Missy is one of the first artists that ever accepted me,” she recalls. “She’s the first artist that ever gave any of us our flowers. She has been just a sweetheart. She has shown up to video shoots; she has brought, like, flowers. I mean, she is the best.”
While Yo-Yo remembers a lot of the rappers who were there with her coming up, there’s one in particular that she recalls never getting enough time to actually get to know — Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. “We were in love with the same guy at the same time — Pac. We never really had that relationship,” she explains of the late member of TLC. “We could have had that, but we didn’t. It’s sad, but true.”
Throughout her career, Yo-Yo says that she was able to become “fearless” early on. Part of where that fearlessness came from was actually Donald Trump. Yo-Yo recalls reading his books and taking notes about the way he did business. But as for Trump today, Yo-Yo isn’t at all interested in his politics.
“I don’t even talk about him,” she says. “Now I look at him and I say to myself, ‘That [business approach] doesn’t work for everything.’ He’s up there saying, ‘The virus is cured. Nobody’s sick.’ It’s because he said, ‘Speak things like you want them to be.'”
Check out Yo-Yo’s full conversation with Shea Diamond on Billboard’s Pridecast below, during which the two chat more in-depth about her relationship to Tupac, her come up, her love for Ice Cube and Queen Latifah, and much much more.