I really disappointed Tupac’s mom. Although, to be honest, it was her manager. She wanted to do an enhanced CD of Tupac’s unreleased songs. I don’t know what it was with Tupac. People kept shooting at him. First, one of his testicles got shot off. Then someone finally got to him and killed him.
Rappers don’t really shoot at each other anymore. Back then, there was some idea that people who sang songs and played music were at war with each other. East versus West.
It was a marketing gimmick. If you were on the side of the “East” you bought songs made by musicians from the east coast. If you were from the West, you bought music made by people from Death Row Records. It was all marketing. And the marketing got even better when a few people got killed.
I once had one of these rap groups, Mobb Deep, come into my office. Their pockets had big bulges, like they were carrying fifty loaded guns in each pocket. Everyone had guns because that’s what the marketing people at the record labels told them to do. Shoot to kill, they were told.
So now all that Tupac’s mom had of her dead child that traveled through time and space to come through her womb was his unreleased songs. So she called her manager, who called this guy, Steve, who called me, to help them make an Enhanced CD of Tupac’s songs. An Enhanced CD had not only songs but you could put it in your computer and do computer stuff – like watch videos, look at photos, and read things.
We had done some enhanced CDs. Big Pun, Wu Tang, whatever. I had the demo CD of everything we had done and I went to the manager’s office. Steve was supposed to meet me there but he never showed up.
Here’s the problem. I didn’t know how to use a computer. I should be more specific: I had never before in my life used a Windows-based PC. I had only used Apple products and Unix-based computers. I majored in computer science, went to grad school for computer science, had worked as a programmer for ten years, ran a computer software company, but I had never used the most popular brand of computers on the planet
“Can you show me a demo?” Tupac’s mom’s manager asked me. I was jealous of him. He had it made. They were going to release this album and it would probably be the last album ever to sell ten million copies. What would he make? $1 per copy? And then maybe they would find more unreleased songs and release those.
“Can you show me a demo?” he asked again. I had the demo on me. I pulled it out of my plastic bag. But I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know how to open the slot in the computer that you put a CD in. And once I did that, then what? How would I find the demo CD on the computer. Do these things work like Apples? Did double-clicking on something work? Was I going to figure all of this out from scratch right in this guy’s office?
I don’t know how to use your computer, I said.
He looked at me. You don’t know how to use a computer?
Well, I said, I don’t know how to use your computer. I never used a Windows machine before.
You have got to be kidding me?
No, we have to wait for Steve. I’ll try calling him.
This is a waste of my time. Why would we let you make Tupac’s Enhanced CD if you don’t even know how to use a computer? This is a joke.
So I put my demo CD back into my plastic bag and I left.
I went back to the office.
Everyone crowded around. They wanted to do the Enhanced CD for Tupac’s unreleased songs.
“How’d the meeting go?” someone said.
I put my head down on the keyboard. Tomorrow I’d have to figure out some other customers to pitch. Maybe Con Edison would finally say yes. I hated rappers. They’re always shooting people anyway. I wanted to do Con Edison. Tupac was going to be a $150,000 job. It was supposedly a done deal until it turned out I didn’t even know anything about computers. At that point in our company’s history that would’ve paid for about 1.5 months of payroll.
Or, if no customer could be found, maybe everyone would have to be fired and I’d have to go and beg for my old job back. But that would be failure. People would laugh at me behind my back. I took a deep breath and picked my head up.
“The meeting went well,” I said. “Maybe it will take one more meeting to clinch the deal.”
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