Entertainment

Drake ordered to delete track featuring AI-generated voice of Tupac

Tupac Shakur’s estate has threatened to sue Drake and ordered him to delete a track featuring an AI-generated copy of the late rapper’s voice.

Drake released the song Taylor Made Freestyle – a diss track aimed at Kendrick Lamar – on his Instagram page on Friday, which features verses created by AI software mimicking both Shakur and Snoop Dogg.

In a cease-and-desist letter seen by Sky News’ US partner NBC News, Howard King, an attorney who represents Shakur’s estate, requested that Drake remove the track from all platforms where it is publicly available.

The letter sent on Wednesday states the Canadian rapper has until midday on Thursday to confirm he will remove it or the estate will “pursue all of its legal remedies” against him.

“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,” Mr King wrote.

“The estate would never have given its approval for this use.”

The letter also outlines the estate’s “dismay” regarding the topic of the track, saying Lamar is “a good friend to the estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately” and that this “compounds the insult”.

In the track, the AI-generated voice of Shakur urges Lamar to respond to Drake’s previous diss track about him released several days prior, saying lines like: “Kendrick, we need ya, the West Coast saviour / You seem a little nervous about all the publicity / You asked for the smoke, now it seem you too busy for the smoke.”

Tupac was killed in 1996. Pic: Walik Goshorn/MediaPunch/IPx/AP
Image:
Tupac was killed in 1996. Pic: Walik Goshorn/MediaPunch/IPx/AP

The letter claims the track and its popularity have created the “false impression that the estate and Tupac promote or endorse the lyrics for the sound-alike”.

Shakur’s estate is also seeking damages including all profits from the record, which has so far only been posted on Drake’s Instagram page, as well as additional damages for substantial economic and reputational harm caused.

Read more:
Musicians react to AI songs flooding the internet
J Cole: I feel ‘terrible’ about Kendrick Lamar diss track

The letter claimed Drake’s non-consensual use of Shakur’s likeness violates Shakur’s right to publicity, an intellectual property right protecting against the misappropriation of somebody’s name or image.

Sky News has contacted representatives of Drake for comment.

The AI-generated voice of prominent rapper Snoop Dogg was also used on the track.

Snoop Dogg posted a video on his Instagram story shortly after the diss track was posted, where he said: “They did what? When? How… What’s going on… I’m going back to bed.”

The use of AI in the music industry has been the subject of heavy debate since last year, when Drake’s own voice was cloned alongside The Weeknd by the artist known as Ghostwriter.

The track was taken down from all platforms shorty after it was released in April.

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