The Tupac Shakur museum faces a lawsuit

Tupac Shakur was one of the most prolific writers in hip hop history. For many fans around the world, he was the living embodiment of West Coast gangster rap.

A new museum in downtown LA seeks to demystify the man behind the art while celebrating the legacy of a superstar whose life was cut short.

In an interview for “LA Times Today,” writer Kenan Drauhorne spoke to host Lisa McRee about the museum and the legal battle over who should own its contents.


What do you want to know

  • “Wake Me When I’m Free,” a pop-up museum dedicated to Tupac Shakur, is open at LA Live
  • Museum artifacts are the subject of a lawsuit between Shakur’s sister and her estate
  • Tupac’s sister Sekyiwa Shakur says she is entitled to exhibit items since they are not allocated for investment
  • Negotiations are ongoing but will not affect the exhibition, which will run until May

“Tupac was one of the most prolific rappers of the 90s. His mother was a Black Panther, so that kind of informed a lot of his early worldview,” Drauhorne said. of that in his music. Very passionate storyteller, very lively lyricist. Even after his death in 1996, people of my generation still go back to Tupac. People who were alive at the time will always defend him as one of the best artists I think once a year or so we get a new list of top rappers, and Tupac is always somewhere in that top 10. He’s highly regarded as one of the most original rappers that we have ever had.

Tupac’s death in 1996 did not end his career.

“There were posthumous albums. Even though he is dead, they are still able to put [recorded music] out for the fans. Her poetry book ‘The Rose That Sprouted From Concrete’ came out a few years after her death,” Draughorne explained. “That poetry hadn’t really been published during his lifetime, so it was kind of a way for people to see another side of Tupac. There was a movie, a biopic that was made about him and which came out in 2012. And then, of course, at Coachella not too long ago, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg released Tupac’s hologram, which was probably one of the most memorable moments in Coachella. such a legendary music festival. And now, the museum.

Drauhorne talked about the new museum and what fans can see on display.

“The idea of ​​the museum has been in the works for some time. [Tupac’s] my mom wanted to start a museum to let fans know about the other sides of Tupac behind the music,” Drauhorne said. “But she passed away in 2016, so the rest of the field kind of moved on, preserving the artifacts, keeping everything, trying to tell the full story of Tupac. It took probably eight years of preparation, but it’s finally here in its own custom home in downtown Los Angeles.

The creation of the museum was not without controversy. Tupac’s sister, Sekyiwa Shakur, is pursuing the estate. Drauhorne explained why.

“Basically, Tupac didn’t leave a will when he died, so all of his assets went to his mother, Afeni, who then had a will written,” Drauughorne explained. “But after Afeni’s death, Sekyiwa was supposed to recover the vast majority of not only her mother’s property, but Tupac’s as well. She says the administrator, Tom Whalley, did not turn over the items Tupac has. She says he didn’t really give her proper accounting, so she’s not sure how much money is coming in and how much he should get. There has been a dispute for some time, but they filed a lawsuit in January, a few weeks before the museum opened. A lot of this content is being sued.”

It is not uncommon for an artist’s estate to grow even after his death.

“There’s a lot of popularity in the back catalog, especially right now,” Drauughorne explained. “I wrote in the article that 70% of all music listened to now is music that hasn’t been released in the last 18 months. So there’s a lot of value there. There’s always an attachment fans will have when their favorite artist gets passed over. They want to try to keep the memories they left behind. As for the frequency of these kinds of lawsuits, it’s quite common. Many artists are more creative than logistical, so they may not have a clear will when they pass. In this specific case, there’s a line in there that says Sekyiwa is supposed to get all the property that’s not held for investment. On the estate side, they say all of his prized possessions have investment value. They use that as a reason. So even when there is a clear will, there can still be disputes.

The parties are currently in negotiation. Drauughorne said the dispute should not affect the opening of Tupac’s pop-up museum.

“I don’t think it will have an impact on the museum itself. It’s already there,” Drauhorne said. “This continued throughout the creation of the museum. I think the museum, which will be here until May, will still be operational. Fans can still see the letters, the clothes, all that stuff. In terms of timing, I don’t know exactly how it’s going to be resolved. They could just settle it out of court. They could let the whole process unfold. [One of the lawyers] said they are currently in the process of trying to divide the estate and trying to see what will be held. From Sekyiwa’s side of course, they said they were a bit frustrated… Afeni died in 2016 and it still goes on. So there’s some frustration, but I guess now that the lawsuit has been filed, it’s probably going to speed up a bit. Hopefully, as soon as possible, they can return to a peaceful understanding. »

The Tupac Shakur exhibit “Wake Me When I’m Free” is now open at LA Live.

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