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Bus driver claims he’s owed rights and royalties for work on Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama’

A bus driver and musician has filed a lawsuit claiming that he is not properly credited or paid for his work on Tupac‘s ‘Dear Mama’.

Terrence Thomas, a New York City bus driver and musician who used to DJ and produce under the name Master Tee, claimed he played an important role in the creation of the late rapper’s 1995 track. His lawsuit cites various interviews with Tupac himself as well as the handwritten credits the late rapper wrote which names Thomas as the creator of the song’s original beat.

Though Thomas was credited as a co-producer on ‘Dear Mama’, court documents obtained by Music Business Worldwide show Thomas claimed he was “never properly and fully credited for his publishing copyright.”

Rapper Tupac Shakur poses for photos backstage after his performance at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois in March 1994. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

He alleged that producer Tony D. Pizarro, label Interscope and its parent company Universal Music Group had “conspired” to obscure his role in creating the track as a way to keep him from earning his royalties as co-writer of the song.

“A self-serving group, led by an upstart music producer, Tony D. Pizarro, conspired with executives at Interscope Records and Universal Music Group (UMG), misappropriated Master Tee’s publishing copyright and master recording copyright and assumed the identity of writer/publisher of Dear Mama’s music,” read the suit.

‘Dear Mama’ served as the lead single from Tupac’s third studio LP ‘Me Against The World’. Since its release in 1995, the track as gone triple platinum and became a hip-hop staple. It is also only one of three hip-hop songs to be added into the Library of Congress registry.

The track was described as “a moving and eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper’s own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference,” by the Library Of Congress.

‘Dear Mama’ was also the inspiration behind the five-part docuseries of the same name about the relationship between Tupac and his mother, Afeni Shakur. The series was released earlier this year and was nominated for two Emmys and a Grammy.

Tupac Shakur at the Paris Theater in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Tupac Shakur at the Paris Theater in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

The lawsuit also sues Warner Brothers, NBC, Fox, Hulu, and Disney who are responsible for bringing the documentary of the same name to the small screen. Thomas seeks an unspecified amount in damages and is requesting a jury trial.

In other Tupac news, the trial date for the murder of the rapper has been set, nearly 30 years after the rapper was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.

Per AP, a Nevada judge has set a June 3, 2024 date for the trial, which sees Duane “Keffe D” Davis charged with involvement in Shakur’s 1996 murder. Davis recently pleaded not guilty to the charge of open murder with use of a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement.

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