A Legal Battle Ensues Between Tupac’s Mother & Suge Knight

07.25.07 11 years ago 34 Comments

Lawyers for Amaru Entertainment and Afeni Shakur, co-administrator of the Tupac Shakur Estate, filed for an injunction against Death Row Records, Inc. and R. Todd Neilson, as Chapter 11 Trustee, to prohibit the inclusion of Tupac Shakur’s unreleased tracks, compositions or sound recordings in the auction of Death Row Records. The adversary complaint was filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles on July 20, 2007.

Deathrow is milking Tupac until the last drop, the rest of the story below.

The injunction sought to restrain the sale of certain assets belonging to the Tupac Estate which are being touted as part of the Death Row Records bankruptcy assets. With closed bidding ending Friday, July 20, 2007 lawyers for the Tupac Estate sought full disclosure by the Bankruptcy Trustee’s counsel that the unreleased master recordings in question were not part of the sale. In actuality, the recordings should have been turned over to the Tupac Shakur Estate in 1997, pursuant to a settlement agreement reached with Death Row Records.

“The 1997 Death Row Agreement provided that all unreleased songs physically housed in the data vaults at Death Row Records, would become the rightful property of the Tupac Shakur Estate,” said Donald N. David, General Counsel for Amaru Entertainment and shareholder at Akerman Senterfitt LLP. “Conversely, the Estate was under the assumption that it was in possession of all master recordings containing Tupac as a featured artist or side artist, as represented by Death Row. However, upon assessing the Debtor’s bankruptcy assets, it was revealed that an album’s worth of unreleased Tupac material was being advertised to potential buyers as the jewel in the crown of the Death Row assets, which is in direct violation of the terms of the 1997 settlement with Death Row.”

At the time of his death, Tupac had recorded approximately 152 unreleased songs, which remained in the vaults of Death Row Records. Nowhere in the contract between Tupac and the record company was it provided that ownership of the unreleased material belonged to Death Row, thus at that time, the Tupac Estate sought custody of the master tapes and any unreleased recordings featuring Tupac. Unable to come to an agreement, the Tupac Estate eventually filed a lawsuit against the rap music label, ending in a written settlement obligating Death Row to surrender all physical master tapes featuring Tupac in June of 1997.

By April of 2006, Death Row Records head Marion “Suge” Knight sought bankruptcy protection for himself and the record company, claiming debts in excess of $100 million dollars. Earlier this year, proceedings began in the liquidation of Knight’s assets, including the auctioning of Death Row Records and all of the label’s music publishing copyrights, master recordings and trademarks.

The first component of the two-part proceedings is the closed bidding phase, when bidders submit a sealed bid for the assets on auction to the Debtor’s Trustee. All bids are considered at once, with the winning bid then made public, at which time open bids are accepted. Erroneously listed as part of the label’s assets were several unreleased master recordings featuring Tupac that are the property of the Tupac Estate.

“As of July 17, 2007, following repeated notices on behalf of the Tupac Shakur Estate, the Bankruptcy Trustee’s counsel would not confirm whether the unreleased Tupac Shakur master recordings were excluded from the auction sale,” said Mr. David. “Tupac Shakur is the highest selling rap artist in history and we are concerned that his inclusion in the sale falsely inflates the value of the property.”

Tupac Shakur is the highest selling rap artist of all time, with over forty-five million albums sold to date. The prolific artist left behind a remarkable legacy inspiring artists all over the world with his profound words that elevated rap into poetry. In the 10 years since Tupac’s murder, interest in his life and works remains just as great, with fans, historians, filmmakers and educators still drawing upon his messages of hope and survival for meaning to the complex world we live in today. In 1997, The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation (TASF) was established by his mother Ms. Afeni Shakur, to keep Tupac’s dream alive. The Foundation was created in order to give young people a chance to excel in the arts and in life through programs offered at The Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Performing Arts in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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