March 27, 2001. It has been a little over four years since rap icon Tupac Shakur was fatally shot and killed in the Las Vegas Strip, and his third album since his death is released. Until the End of Time a wonderfully crafted double CD features songs like Letter 2 My Unborn ; where Tupac speaks to his offspring on growing up in the ghetto and lead single Until the End of Time in which Tupac raps about his internal struggles of the sinful life he leads and coming death.
“Buried as a g while the whole world remembers me, until the end of time.” Tupac raps to end his third verse, one thing synonymous about Tupac’s legacy is that while he may have taken his last breath in 1996, his music still lives today. Now March 27, 2016, fifteen years to the day of its release, Until the End of Time has gone 4x platinum since it debuted #1 on the Billboard 200.
A large unappreciated factor to the success of Until the End of Time can be traced to producer Johnny J, a longtime friend of Tupac. Johnny J and Tupac never failed to make magic when in the studio together. Their track record backs up this claim as the duo had worked together on hits such as All Eyez on Me, Life Goes On and iconic diss track Hit ‘Em Up. Johnny J was credited for production on 17/29 tracks on Until the End of Time and is the reason why Until the End of Time is regarded as one of Tupac’s better posthumous albums.
Johnny J and Tupac were a duo that was meant to be, their friendship well documented with such stories of Tupac calling Johnny right after signing with Death Row and being released from prison. In an interview with Who? Magazine in 2006 Johnny J had this to say about his companionship with Tupac. “It was like a marriage that was meant to be. I was blown away. It was just like something that I was waiting forever to happen because I was working on beats, working on music so much there wasn’t too many emcees or rappers at the time that could keep up with my pace. So I was like damn! Am I finally going to meet somebody who can put the right subject matter in thought to what I was doing with this music? Kind of meet me there 50/50. I’ll be there fifty percent on the music and somebody meet me fifty percent on the lyrics, and Pac was the one. That dream came true.”
Until the End of Time would not have been possible without the help of Johnny J behind the scenes, the producer knew exactly what Tupac verses would go well with his material. Until the End of Time was one of the last posthumous Tupac projects he worked on and it is no surprise that quality of Tupac’s albums decreased after the absence of his producer counterpart.
Johnny J continued to do work with members of the Outlawz and even Tatyani Ali after Until the End of Time but was unable to replicate the same success he had with Tupac. The next news to come of Johnny J was not of another posthumous Tupac album but of his death. Unfortunately, Johnny J committed suicide in prison while serving a 3 year DUI sentence in 2008. Just like the death of his friend Tupac, the death of Johnny J left hip hop in shock. The producer may now reside with Tupac in the afterlife, but their music together will last until the end of time.