Tupac Shakur’s legacy faces a new challenge as his iconic song “Dear Mama” has become the center of a legal war.
The dispute involves claims by Terence Thomas, known as Master Tee, who alleges he was cheated out of royalties for his contributions to the song.
Master Tee was introduced to Tupac in 1993 at Unique Recording Studio. They collaborated, creating one of the best-known rap songs, “Dear Mama.”
The lawsuit details Master Tee’s significant role in the song’s creation.
Evidence suggests that his rights and credits were obscured and hidden despite his contributions. This concealment of Master Tee’s role continued for decades, with the truth coming to light only in 2023 through documentary evidence.
This evidence includes Tupac’s handwritten list crediting Master Tee as co-writer and producer of “Dear Mama.” The dispute becomes more intricate with the involvement of producer Tony D. Pizarro.
The lawsuit alleges that Pizarro, who worked on a version of “Dear Mama,” later titled “Dear Mama Remix,” falsely claimed significant involvement in Tupac’s creative works from 1994-1996, including the original 1993 Master Recording of “Dear Mama.”
The release of “Dear Mama” as a single in February 1995 coincided with a turbulent time in Tupac’s life, including his incarceration for sexual abuse. Tupac’s confinement coincided with the release of “Dear Mama.”
The lawsuit suggests that this period was crucial in misappropriating credits and royalties.
Master Tee argues that during Tupac’s detention, Pizarro and others, including Interscope Records and Universal Music Group, took advantage of Tupac’s absence to claim undue credit and profit from the song.
The lawsuit argues that the remixed versions of “Dear Mama,” produced by Pizarro, were derived from the original master tape created by Tupac and Master Tee. Yet, Master Tee’s contributions were not adequately acknowledged and he was never compensated.
In a 1996 interview with Bill Bellamy, Tupac acknowledged Master Tee’s role in creating “Dear Mama.”
“Master Tee gave me the beat and I wrote it in the bathroom on the toilet, in one of them early morning sit down for sessions. I just wrote it down and it came out like, like tears. After I wrote it, I called my mom and I rapped it to her over the phone live, and she was crying. And I was like ‘That’s a hit.’”
Master Tee, a New York City bus driver for over 26 years, is portrayed in the lawsuit as a victim of a conspiracy by Pizarro, Interscope Records, and Universal Music Group.
These entities are accused of misappropriating Master Tee’s publishing and master recording copyrights, assuming the identity of the writer and publisher of “Dear Mama’s” music..
The legal action taken by Master Tee is not just a quest for financial restitution but also historical rectification. He seeks to reclaim his rightful place in hip-hop history and culture by gaining legal acknowledgment of his ownership and copyright to “Dear Mama” and “Dear Mama Remix.”
The lawsuit also demands an injunction to stop the defendants from earning royalties on the song until the case is resolved.