Tupac Shakur’s Estate Threatens to Sue Drake over "Taylor Made Freestyle"

The rap icon's family call the song "a flagrant violation” of the law and a "blatant abuse" of his legacy

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 25, 2024

Tupac Shakur's estate is threatening to sue Drake after the Canadian featured an AI-generated likeness of the West Coast rap icon on "Taylor Made Freestyle," the latest diss track prodding his modern peer Kendrick Lamar.

Billboard has obtained a cease-and-desist letter sent to Drake, in which attorney Howard King orders the artist born Aubrey Graham to take down the "Taylor Made Freestyle" in less than 24 hours, or the estate will "pursue all of its legal remedies."

"The Estate is deeply dismayed and disappointed by your unauthorized use of Tupac's voice and personality," the letter reads in part. "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 given its approval for this use."

Drake's "Taylor Made Freestyle," shared via his social media accounts last week, follows his Kendrick Lamar diss "Push Ups." The song made headlines for its verses rapped by AI approximations of a pair of West Coast rap legends in 2Pac and Snoop Dogg.

In the song, the generative Shakur raps, "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."

Per Billboard, King claims that use of the late artist's voice finds Drake in violation of publicity rights. The letter reads, "The unauthorized, equally dismaying use of Tupac's voice against Kendrick Lamar, a good friend to the Estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately, compounds the insult."

King also argues in the letter that the "Taylor Made Freestyle" has caused "substantial economic and reputational harm" by creating the "false impression that the estate and Tupac promote or endorse the lyrics for the sound-alike."

"It is hard to believe that [Tupac's record label]'s intellectual property was not scraped to create the fake Tupac AI on the Record," King wrote, also demanding that Drake produce "a detailed explanation for how the sound-alike was created and the persons or company that created it, including all recordings and other data 'scraped' or used."

The letter also points to Drake taking issue with use of his own likeness by others in similar contexts. Last year, a Drake voice model made headlines for its performance on "Heart on My Sleeve," a generative song from a mysterious Ghostwriter that also featured a verse by an AI-generated Weeknd. The song was swiftly removed from streaming platforms following a copyright claim by Universal Music Group.

As of press time, Drake has deleted "Taylor Made Freestyle" from Twitter, though it remains available to hear via his Instagram profile.

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