Business News Labels & Publishers Legal

Shakur estate kicks off new Death Row lawsuit

By | Published on Friday 27 September 2013

Death Row Records

Afeni Shakur, the mother of the late Tupac, has launched a new lawsuit in the latest legal squabble over her son’s catalogue and the assets of the former Death Row Records label.

The once legendary hip hop independent has continued to have a rocky history even since the label’s often controversial founder Suge Knight was pushed out of the picture when his business went bankrupt in 2006.

The company who originally bought Death Row out of bankruptcy then admitted it couldn’t raise the money it had committed to pay, and then the second company to take ownership fell out with the lawyer who had negotiated the deal with the intent of running the label post-acquisition.

Then the new owner, New Solutions/WIDEawake Entertainment, agreed a distribution partnership with E1 Entertainment, the company previously known as Koch Entertainment (which had already distributed some past Death Row releases), and things seemed to calm down a bit, catalogue was successfully re-released, and word had it artists were getting paid the royalties they were due.

But then, last year, New Solutions reportedly went under and the Death Row catalogue went back on the block. And E1 Entertainment, which was basically managing the label already, seemingly took ownership earlier this year. Which made it eligible to be sued by the Shakur estate, good times.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new lawsuit covers some very old ground, citing a deal with Death Row and its then-distributor Interscope made a year after the rapper’s murder in 1996 in which it was apparently agreed the Shakur Estate would get ownership of the plethora of unreleased Tupac material the label was sitting on, that Death Row would be allowed to release just one album of said unreleased material, and that the Estate would be paid royalties on any Tupac tracks distributed by the record company.

It seems the big hand-over of unreleased materials never occurred, and the Shakur estate reckons it’s not been paid all the royalties it is due either. While it’s not clear if E1 is itself accused of any bad faith, it seems it has possibly acquired some very old liabilities through its Death Row purchase. The firm is yet to comment on the $1.1 million lawsuit.