Tupac’s estate threatens to sue Drake

A lawyer for Tupac Shakur’s estate said “the estate would never have given its approval for this use.”

The estate of the late rapper Tupac Shakur has threatened to sue Drake for his latest diss track featuring Kendrick Lamar. The estate describes Drake’s usage of an AI-generated facsimile of Shakur’s voice as a “blatant abuse” of Shakur’s legacy.

Drake used AI algorithms to create lyrics that mimicked both Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg before releasing the song “Taylor Made Freestyle” on his Instagram page on Friday.

Shakur’s estate counsel Howard King asked Drake to take down the song from all publicly accessible sites in a cease-and-desist letter delivered on Wednesday. 

Aubrey Drake Graham, Drake’s legal name, has until Thursday at noon to affirm his cooperation. The letter, a copy of which was acquired by NBC News, states that in the event that he does not comply, the estate will “pursue all of its legal remedies” against him.

“Taylor Made Freestyle,” which is not yet on streaming services, is Drake’s latest diss track against Lamar amid their feud.  

King said in the letter, which was originally obtained by Billboard, “Not only is the record a flagrant violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights, it is also a blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time.” “The Estate would never have authorized this use.”

Shakur’s estate representative had nothing else to say. Drake’s agent declined to provide a statement.

The letter forewarned that Shakur’s right to publicity—an intellectual property protection that guards against the unauthorized use of someone’s name or likeness—was violated by Drake’s nonconsensual use of Shakur’s likeness.

The letter claims that the song’s widespread appeal has given rise to a “false impression that the Estate and Tupac promote or endorse the lyrics for the sound-alike.”

Shakur’s estate is requesting damages for significant injury to their reputation and economy, in addition to further damages for any earnings from the album.

King stated in the letter that Kendrick Lamar, a close friend of the Estate who has shown Tupac and his legacy nothing but respect both publicly and privately, “complicates the insult” by using Tupac’s voice without authorization.

About a month had passed since Lamar made disparaging remarks about Drake and fellow rapper J. Cole during a guest verse on Future and producer Metro Boomin’s song “Like That.” His scathing lyric sparked rumors among fans about whether Drake might reply.

Drake retaliated last week with the song “Push Ups,” and he swiftly followed up with a second diss tune, “Taylor Made Freestyle.”

The AI-generated voice of Tupac Shakur raps in the song, “Kendrick, we need ya, the West Coast savior / Engraving your name in some hip-hop history / If you deal with this viciously / You seem a little nervous about all the publicity.”

Then, the AI-generated voice of Snoop Dogg enters and dominates the second verse.

“Because at this moment, it appears that you are formulating a plan on how to fail / How to climb the wrong tree and then get your head crushed in a packed house,” the voice growls. “This chess game is being watched by everyone, but are you out of moves?”

A request for response from Snoop Dogg’s agent was not immediately answered.

The proliferation of AI technologies has made it simpler than ever to create new music, which has raised a number of ethical concerns for the music business. Using AI voices that mimic the voices of actual musicians, anyone may quickly produce their own versions of songs.

In a statement signed this month, more than 200 musicians urged AI developers, tech firms, and digital music providers to promise not to employ AI in any way that might “undermine or replace the human artistry of songwriters and artists.”

King included “Heart on My Sleeve,” a song that contained unlicensed AI emulations of Drake and was removed from streaming sites last year after becoming viral, in the cease-and-desist letter.

“Your record label removed a well-publicized AI impersonation of you and the Weeknd with a lot of news coverage highlighting how damaging the fake was to you even more recently, no doubt with your approval and possibly even at your request,” King said.

Also Read:

Snoop Dogg appears to respond to his voice being featured in Drake’s ‘Taylor Made’

“Taylor Made” also includes a recreation of Snoop Dogg’s voice.

The next day, Snoop seemed to address this in a video that he posted on Instagram. “What did they do? When? How? Are you sure?” he wrote. “Why is everybody calling my phone, blowing me up?”

He used a variety of emojis, such as a robot head, a microphone, and a human shrugging, to caption the video.

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