Was Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama’ Beat Created By A Bus Driver?

23 November 2023 | 3:02 pm | Mary Varvaris

Bus driver and former DJ Terrence Thomas is suing, claiming that he was “never properly and fully credited for his publishing copyright”.


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New York City bus driver Terrence Thomas has claimed that he was “never properly and fully credited for his publishing copyright” during his DJ career as Master Tee, claiming that he’s owed rights and royalties for his work on Tupac’s Dear Mama.

In a lawsuit obtained by Music Business Worldwide, Thomas claimed that he played an essential role in the influential hip-hop artist’s 1995 track, backing up his statements by citing interviews and handwritten notes in which Tupac acknowledged Thomas. The citations also detailed Tupac calling Thomas the creator of the song’s beat.

Thomas has long been credited as co-producer on Dear Mama, but according to the lawsuit, he’s “never [been] properly and fully credited for his publishing copyright”. Dear Mama is a triple-platinum single, and one of three hip-hop songs added to the Library Of Congress registry.

Thomas is suing music producer Tony Pizarro, Interscope Records and Universal Music Group, as well as Hulu, FX and the Walt Disney Company, the latter three for their production of the documentary Dear Mama, which has been described as a “deeply personal five-part series that defies the conventions of traditional documentary storytelling to share an illuminating saga of mother and son, Afeni and Tupac Shakur.”

Regarding the first group of defendants, the lawsuit calls them “a self-serving group, led by an upstart music producer, Tony D. Pizarro,” who allegedly “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.”

Last month, Duane “Keffe D” Davis was arrested as the first person to be directly connected to the murder of Tupac Shakur.

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Tupac died after being shot four times on the night of 7 September 1996 during a drive-by shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Davis had long boasted about his involvement in the episode, claiming in his 2019 memoir Compton Street Legend that he was in the Cadillac with Shakur’s killer when it happened and provided the gun used.