Master Tee, the co-producer of Tupac Shakur’s song “Dear Mama,” sued fellow producer Tony Pizarro and others for unpaid publishing royalties for the classic track. The lawsuit named Disney, the Hughes Brothers and more as defendants in connection to the FX documentary series Dear Mama.
According to court documents obtained by Music Business Worldwide, Master Tee did not realize he was owed publishing royalties in addition to his producer royalties until the Allen Hughes-directed docuseries Dear Mama premiered in April. The producer claimed he was screwed out of proper credit for his work by Pizarro and executives at Interscope Records and Universal Music Group.
“Master Tee was never properly and fully credited with his publishing copyright from the writing and creation of the music of ‘Dear Mama’ and instead, a self-serving group, led by an upstart music producer, Tony D. Pizarro, conspired with executives at Interscope Records and Universal Music Group, misappropriated Master Tee’s publishing copyright and Master Recording Copyright and assumed the identity of writer/publisher of ‘Dear Mama’s’ music,” Master Tee’s lawyers wrote.
They continued, “Defendant Tony Pizarro, having stolen from Master Tee the provenance of what became one of the most iconic pieces of Hip-Hop culture, has catapulted himself and engineered his grand reputation into the business of rap music on the back of Master Tee’s musical creation and on the fame of the soon-to-be-murdered Tupac. Master Tee seeks to reclaim his rightful place in Hip-Hop history and culture by judgment declaring his ownership and copyright to ‘Dear Mama’ and ‘Dear Mama Remix’ and by restitution from the Defendants named here.”
Master Tee sued Pizarro, Disney, the Hughes Brothers and the other defendants for copyright infringement and unjust enrichment, among other complaints.
The lawsuit zeroed in on Pizarro, Interscope and Universal Music for fraudulent concealment of the plaintiff’s interests and breach of fiduciary duty. Master Tee, whose real name is Terrence Thomas, sought undisclosed damages and an injunction to prevent further distribution of “Dear Mama” royalties until the defendants “fully satisfied the obligations owed” to him.