Apr 25, 2024 2 min read

Drake threatened with legal action over AI Tupac in Kendrick diss track

The Tupac estate has hit out at Drake over a Kendrick Lamar diss track that includes a verse delivered by an AI-generated Tupac vocal clone. Drake has been told to pull down the track or the estate will “pursue all of its legal remedies”

Drake threatened with legal action over AI Tupac in Kendrick diss track

Last year’s big voice clone track was fake Drake. And now we have a Drake fake. In that a new diss track released by Drake as part of his ongoing feud with Kendrick Lamar includes a verse by an unauthorised AI Tupac, and the Tupac estate is not impressed.

“The estate is deeply dismayed and disappointed by your unauthorised use of Tupac’s voice and personality”, a legal letter seen by Billboard reads

“Not only is the record a flagrant violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights”, it goes on, “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”. To that end Drake has 24 hours to pull down the offending track or the estate will “pursue all of its legal remedies”.

The track in question, ‘Taylor Made’, is the latest diss track released as part of a back and forth between Drake and Lamar. It features an AI-generated verse from Snoop Dogg as well as Tupac, both rappers highly rated by Lamar. 

Continuing, the legal letter says, “The unauthorised, 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”.

The use of AI to generate vocal clones was a big talking point last year, especially following the release of a track called ‘Heart Of My Sleeve’ which included cloned vocals that imitated both Drake and The Weeknd. It prompted much debate about how artists can legally protect their voices and stop unauthorised vocal clones. 

For an AI model to generate vocals in the style of a specific artist, it needs to be trained on recordings by that artist. As far as the music industry is concerned, that can only be done with the permission of whoever controls the copyrights in those tracks and the accompanying songs. 

Many AI companies dispute that position, however, arguing that training an AI model constitutes ‘fair use’ and therefore no permission is required. Plus, an artist may not control the copyright in their music. 

As a result, there has been much discussion about the use of publicity or personality rights, in those countries where they exist, to allow artists to control the use of their voice. The legal letter from the Tupac estate specifically referenced the late rapper’s publicity rights. 

Quite how publicity rights work differs from country to country, and in the US from state to state, though there are moves to introduce a new US-wide federal publicity right specifically to stop the unauthorised use of someone’s voice or likeness in AI-generated content. 

It’s not clear if Snoop Dogg’s lawyers are also penning an angry cease and desist letter. In a video on social media over the weekend his response to learning about the track was, “They did what? When? How? Are you sure?”

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