Duck Down Records has been around since rap music’s Golden Age and CEO Dru Ha has seen all the highs and lows of the music industry.
GlobalGrind had a chance to catch up with the legendary CEO at Duck Down’s Manhattan offices and we had a great conversation about the epic times of kicking it with Tupac in L.A. (involving a guy named Thor and stealing Pac’s orange soda).
Read on for more.
We know you had a special friendship with Tupac, can you share one of the stories about meeting Pac?
Those are some of my best memories. He came to pick us up at the airport. He did everything himself. He called us and it was like out of a movie scene. He called like, ‘What’s up it’s me, Pac!’ I thought it was Buckshot playing a joke on me because I f*cked with Buck a few weeks before that.
We were on Priority Records and Master P was on the label and I had an intern call the office one day when Buck was here and I was like, ‘Yo Buck, Master P is on the phone!’ (laughs) Buck was on the phone with the intern and I just started wildin’ out in the background like ‘Buck! Tell him I said Uhhhhhhh!’ At first Buck looked at me and he continued on the phone like, ‘Yo maybe we can collaborate…’ I’m like, ‘Yo tell him I said Uhhhhh!’ again. He looked at me the first time then finally he said, ‘Yo, what’s wrong with you?’ (laughs) I was crying and then Buck eventually realized that I was f*cking with him and it was a joke. So when the receptionist said that Pac was on the phone I initially thought Buck was going for his revenge. But it was really Pac and he knew everything about us. It was crazy.
He said, ‘Yo, I’m sending tickets out, how many do you need?’ The next day the tickets showed up and they were one way tickets. (laughs) I didn’t like that too much because I knew I couldn’t spend more than a few days out there. I knew I had to get back to the office. I called him back like, ‘my ticket needs to be round trip!’
Then he picks us up at the airport. You think if you go see Tupac it’s gonna be a publicist or someone that’s gonna come, not him. But it was him and Tha Outlawz and he had the Bentley and a limosine and he was the guy outside for us. We got our bags and met him and he was like, ‘f*ck that, I’m ridin in the limo with you guys!’ and he told Tha Outlawz to drive his Bentley and he just got in the limo with us…
First he goes ‘I need to stop at my house,’ and we’re like where are we staying? (laughs) He’s like ‘don’t worry about that, don’t worry about that.’ We get out there and he’s like, ‘Suge just bought me a house in Calabasas [California]. Do you guys mind if we stay there?’ We’re like, ‘what stay at your house?’ (laughs) and he’s like ‘Yeah! He just bought it for me!’ We’re like ‘well alright, if you have room…’ and he said, ‘nah, there’s like eight bedrooms, it’s good, it;s good don’t worry!’
We go to his apartment and it turns out he had never been in the house. He went to the apartment, got his stuff and brought us all out there. So that picture is him just parking the car and you can see in the picture above there’s nothing on the walls. That house was just empty. We ended up spending like three weeks out there. I didn’t stay the whole time but the guys spent that time and recorded the album.
He was filming “Gridlock’d” I think. He would film the movie by day and record at night and then we would come back to the house at like 4 in the morning and he’d be back up at 6:30-7am. A couple of days he took me and Tek with him to the set. We just lounged at his house all day. (laughs) He had all these water guns and a pool.
Pac loved Fanta orange soda. The refrigerator was stacked with it and by the end of the day there were only like four sodas left. The soda was so stacked in the fridge that everybody would crack open a can and take a few sips then put it down and it would get warm and then go back and crack another one. We’re thinking [it’s] no big deal, but the next day his sister was like, ‘who drank Pac’s soda? What’s going on? You guys went through like two cases of soda!’ Everyone was like ‘damn,’ not knowing how serious it was and when we went to open the refrigerator the next morning it had a yellow sticky note on it that said ‘Pac’s soda!’ (laughs)
Me and Buck are in the room like, ‘Oh shit man what the fuck? Should we go to the store?’ It was like a Larry David “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode. That’s how me and Buck’s relationship is.
The next night I went downstairs with a pack of yellow Post-Its. The dude all the way on the right [of the picture], his name is Thor. He was Buck’s brother and was also Buck’s security and Pac loved him. Thor was like, ‘you gotta lock the windows’ and there was a lot going on with Pac so he was very nervous in the house like anytime a car drove by. He just took to Thor because he’s a dude who overdoes it. You know that military type of guy who doesn’t care what the boots look like, he ties them real tight? That’s Thor. So Pac loved Thor and I took yellow Post-Its and put them on the cabinets with things on it like ‘Thor’s oatmeal’ and ‘Thor’s bread’ (laughs). I must’ve stuck up like 15 of ‘em while everyone slept. Pac’s sister found them and she was on the floor. Thank God she took it that way. Those were fun times.
Joking aside, I’ve been doing this now for 16 years and I’ve been in the studio with everyone we can think of and I’ve never seen anyone work the way he worked. I don’t even know where he pulled the energy from. He would just write the rhyme like right on the spot. Fuck them people that say that they don’t write, Pac would just write it. He would be in the booth doing it in one or two takes and then call the next emcee up. If they didn’t have their shit ready, he didn’t care if it was The Outlawz or if it was Buckshot. ‘Next! Next!’ He would just dismiss the emcee. It was never like, ‘nah, nah it’s cool, take your time.’
He put the pressure on and he kept the pressure on. It was intense and it was cool to watch.