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Bus driver claims to be owed rights and royalties for Tupac's 'Dear Mama'

Terrence Thomas says that he was never been properly credited or paid for his work on the track from Tupac's third album 'Me Against The World'

  • WORDS: TIBOR HESKETT | PHOTO: MANUEL SANVICTORES
  • 25 November 2023
Bus driver claims to be owed rights and royalties for Tupac's 'Dear Mama'

Terrence Thomas, the bus driver and former musician, has filed a lawsuit claiming rights and royalties for his production work on 'Dear Mama', the famous lead single from Tupac's third studio album 'Me Against The World'.

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The track is one of Tupac's most moving songs, with the Library of Congress describing it as an "eloquent homage to both the murdered rapper's own mother and all mothers struggling to maintain a family in the face of addiction, poverty and societal indifference."

'Dear Mama' also inspired a five-part docuseries about the rapper's relationship with his mother, the black panther activist Afeni Shakur. Running under the same name as the Tupac track, the series came out earlier this year on FX and has received nominations from the Black Reel Awards for Television, the Emmys and the Grammys.

Thomas cites interviews from the late rapper as well as handwritten credits written by Tupac himself which name Terrence Thomas as the creator of the beat underneath 'Dear Mama'. Court documents obtained by Music Business Worldwide show that Thomas is claiming he was "never properly and fully credited for his publishing copyright."

Read this next: Tupac’s murder was unsolved for decades because of his race, his brother says

The bus driver alleges that producer Tony D. Pizarro conspired with label Interscope and Universal Music Group, the label's parent company, to obscure his role in the track's creation to prevent Thomas from receiving the royalties he is owed as co-writer of 'Dear Mama'.

Thomas is also suing Warner Brothers, NBC, Fox, Hulu and Disney who have together brought the 'Dear Mama' documentary series to the small screen, demanding an unspecified amount in damages and a jury trial.

Tibor Heskett is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

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