April 20, 1997
Shakur's Mom Sues Death Row Records
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The mother of slain rapper Tupac Shakur is
suing Death Row Records for $17 million, claiming the hip-hop
label failed to pay royalties and cheated Shakur out of millions
The federal lawsuit filed Friday follows a $7.1 million
lawsuit Death Row filed against Shakur's estate earlier this
month, demanding reimbursement for money allegedly advanced to
Shakur for cars, houses, jewelry and other expenditures,
including recording and video costs.
Besides seeking unpaid royalties and repayment of disputed
expense billings, the countersuit from Shakur's estate seeks to
invalidate a handwritten 1995 contract Shakur signed with Death
Row while in prison.
It also asks that 152 unreleased Shakur recordings, which his
representatives cannot locate, be ordered into court-appointed
The suit is a response to "the deafening silence from
Death Row," family attorney Richard Fischbein said Saturday.
The primary dispute between Afeni Shakur, the rapper's mother,
and Death Row is over money made by "All Eyez on Me," a
double album by Shakur released shortly before the rapper was
gunned down last September in Las Vegas. Some 5 million copes
Shakur died with little more than $150,000 yet Death Row
reaped more than $100 million from his music, Fischbein said.
"He was paid less than a million dollars as far as we can
see," Fischbein said. "They've never opened the books
so that we can see."
The company wrongly billed Shakur's account for other's
expenses in a "pattern of fraud and deception involving
millions of dollars," Fischbein said.
Named in the lawsuit were Death Row and its imprisoned
president, Marion "Suge" Knight, who is serving a
nine-year term for violating probation from a 1992 assault.
Two lawyers for Death Row, Ed Corey and David Kenner, did not
return phone calls Saturday, but Kenner, who's also named in the
lawsuit, on Friday denied any wrongdoing or mismanagement.
Citing the handwritten contract, Death Row claims Shakur's
unreleased recordings are its property. The company also is
seeking 20 percent of Shakur's earnings over the last 18 months
as a management fee.
In a separate development, Shakur's mother got $5 million in
advances from Death Row distributor Interscope Records after
threatening to bar the release of her son's posthumous
"Makaveli: The Don Killuminati" album. Released in
October, it has sold more than a million copies.
Death Row has other troubles. Creditors claim the company owes
them millions of dollars for goods and services. A $75 million
lawsuit seeks to have the rap label put into receivership to
protect its assets.
The company also is under federal investigation for alleged
links to drug trafficking, money laundering and extortion.