The eagerly awaited 2Pac biopic “All Eyez On Me” has been given a release date for November 2016, but the film hasn’t come easy. Having undergone severe production delays, multiple director changes, in house lawsuits and even allegations of murder. It seems Tupac can’t escape controversy even in the after life.
Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur Davis founded the Tupac Amaru Shakur foundation after her son was murdered in 1996 in Las Vegas. She oversaw the release of his posthumous albums and was in the process of executive producing All Eyez On Me, having been in discussions and negotiations with several major studios and production companies.
Tupac touched so many people in his brief life so it was always Afeni’s wish to collaborate with the right people and in the right way, to get her son’s story out to the world. But the task was proving to be more difficult than expected with director reshuffles and in-house lawsuits that almost derailed the movie completely. One such incident was that of Morgan Creek Productions, who alleged in a Los Angeles Superior Court filing that Amaru Entertainment had backed out of an agreement to sell Tupac’s life rights for a film adaptation.
Afeni Shakur quickly fired back at Morgan Creek, with a $10 million cross-complaint lawsuit that claimed a prearranged 2Pac biopic was never agreed upon, despite Creek’s allegations. Amaru Entertainment claimed that Morgan Creek, CEO James Robinson tried to strong-arm a deal for Tupac movie rights, then sabotaged the project when Amaru attempted to set it up elsewhere.
“Instead of negotiating in good faith with [Amaru], they sought to obtain the rights by concocting a nonexistent ‘agreement’ and engaging in heavy-handed threats, coercion and intimidation to interfere with and ultimately destroy the film project,”
With John Singleton and also Devil In A Blue Dress director Carl Franklin withdrawing early from the project, the chair was handed to acclaimed rap video director Benny Boom with former Death Row collaborator, L.T. Hutton overseeing as executive producer. Hutton, who started out as a producer in the early 90s, had already entered in to a deal with Morgan Creek some years earlier after setting up his own movie company “Program Pictures”. It was this partnership with Morgan Creek that raised suspicions amongst some people in the industry as to Hutton’s motives. How could a man so closely connected to a company that so ruthlessly pursued Afeni for ownership of her son’s brand, be trusted to produce a movie that will stay true to Tupac’s legacy?
These where also the sentiments echoed by John Singleton, the only director who had the Shakur family’s full blessing. The Boyz N Tha Hood director took to instagram to address reports of his removal from the project, reasoning that the people involved where not really respectful of the legacy of Tupac Shakur and that he was planning his own movie about Pac.
“Real talk! ….How you gonna make a movie about a man when you suing his mother to get the rights to tell his story?!” John Singleton
Real talk! The reason I am not making this picture is because the people involved aren’t really… https://t.co/mqRP23fYOC
— JOHN SINGLETON (@SHAFT6816) 7 April 2015
From that point onwards, Hutton appeared to be continually haunted by questions regarding his integrity to Tupac’s legacy. During an interview on the Goin Way Back Show, Hutton was asked about his thoughts on Singleton’s statement. Hutton’s response was “100%, unequivocally not true at all”. He then went on to say how John Singleton had not worked on a project in many years and his remarks where nothing more than a rant because there was an official announcement of a start date for principle photography and that production was moving forward, hinting that Singleton was dragging his heels.
“It was a negative comment due to the fact that, it wasn’t that he walked off…he was let go…..Some people are self servant and egotistical. It’s like this, If you say “only my voice can be heard”, in this picture, you already a no go”
Money B then presses L.T about Afeni and for verification that the Tupac family estate are happy and on board with the production. This is where things get interesting so pay close attention to the detail as Hutton’s response can be interpreted in many ways without proper context so it is up to you to do some research and draw your own conclusions. Hutton explains that all matters involving Tupac’s estate had to be signed off by Afeni who he claims had meaningful consultation from legal advisors. He then goes on to say that in the beginning they (his company) had a tiff with Afeni (Amaru Entertainment), but distances himself from all involvement by claiming it was an associate within the company who caused the “tiff” (lawsuit) and that person has since been fired. If you’ve been following the story so far it should become immediately apparent that “concocting a non-existent ‘contractual agreement’ and engaging in heavy-handed threats, coercion and intimidation” is a little more than a small “tiff” as Hutton puts it.
Which brings us to Afeni’s tragic and untimely death. Conspiracy theories abound events like these, and it seems like every time anything at all happens out of the ordinary involving a highly regarded public figure the conspiracy brigade will jump all over it, especially if there’s a money trail. I have to admit the timing of Afeni’s death is amazingly convenient in an almost identical way to that of Michael Jackson and Prince, both of whom fought long legal battles over ownership rights. Jackson won control of his catalog from Sony in an historical legal victory with Prince doing the same against Warner Bros. Both artists met early deaths soon after.
Now consider that an “unknown” representative for Tupac’s estate announced that Afeni had set up a trust to control all of Tupac’s music rights, naming “Tom Whalley” — former head of Warner Bros — as executor of Pac’s lucrative catalog. Now consider that these reports came by way of TMZ which is also owned by….drum roll…..WARNER BROS! Now all of this may just be wild speculation but you have to admit it does give you reason to think a little deeper. Regardless of what we believe, it’s been 20 years since one of our most beloved rap cultural icons was taken from us and now the last true blood guardian of his legacy has gone with him.
Rest In Power †
STATEMENT FROM THE SHAKUR FAMILY AND THE ESTATE OF TUPAC SHAKUR REGARDING AFENI SHAKUR pic.twitter.com/WBJkjRchNP
— 2Pac.com (@2pac) 3 May 2016