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Tupac's estate threatens to sue Drake over diss track using what appears to be late rapper's AI-generated voice

A lawyer for Tupac Shakur’s estate said “the estate would never have given its approval for this use.”

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Tupac Shakur’s estate is threatening to sue Drake over his recent Kendrick Lamar diss track, calling what appears to be the use of an artificial intelligence-generated version of the late rapper’s voice a “blatant abuse” of his legacy.

Drake released the track, “Taylor Made Freestyle,” on his Instagram page Friday, using AI software to generate verses emulating both Shakur and Snoop Dogg.

In a cease-and-desist letter Wednesday, Howard King, an attorney who represents Shakur’s estate, requested that Drake remove the track from all platforms where it is publicly available. 

Drake, whose legal name is Aubrey Drake Graham, has until noon Thursday to confirm his cooperation. Otherwise, the estate will “pursue all of its legal remedies” against him, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News.

“Taylor Made Freestyle,” which is not yet on streaming services, is Drake’s latest diss track against Lamar amid their feud.  

“Not only is the record a flagrant violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights, it is also a blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time,” King wrote in the letter, which was first reported by Billboard. “The Estate would never have given its approval for this use.”

A representative for Shakur’s estate had no additional comment. A representative for Drake declined to comment.

The letter warned that Drake’s nonconsensual use of Shakur’s likeness violates Shakur’s right to publicity, an intellectual property right protecting against the misappropriation of somebody’s name or image.

The track and its popularity have created the “false impression that the Estate and Tupac promote or endorse the lyrics for the sound-alike,” the letter states. 

Shakur’s estate seeks damages including all profits from the record, as well as additional damages for substantial economic and reputational harm caused.

“The unauthorized, equally dismaying use of Tupac’s voice against Kendrick Lamar, a good friend to the Estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately, compounds the insult,” King wrote in the letter.

The track was released about a month after Lamar took shots at Drake and fellow rapper J. Cole in a guest verse on the song “Like That” by rapper Future and producer Metro Boomin. His fiery verse stirred fan speculation about whether Drake would respond. 

Drake fired back last week with his song “Push Ups” before he quickly followed up with “Taylor Made Freestyle” as a second diss track.

“Kendrick, we need ya, the West Coast savior / Engraving your name in some hip-hop history / If you deal with this viciously / You seem a little nervous about all the publicity,” the AI-generated voice of Shakur raps in the song.

Snoop Dogg’s AI-generated voice then joins in, taking over the second verse.

“’Cause right now it’s looking like you writin’ out the game plan on how to lose / How to bark up the wrong tree and then get your head popped in a crowded room,” the voice raps. “World is watching this chess game, but are you out of moves?”

A representative for Snoop Dogg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The explosion of AI tools has brought up a slew of ethical questions for the music industry as it becomes easier than ever before to generate new music. Users can easily create their own renditions of songs using AI versions of real artists’ voices.

More than 200 artists signed an open letter this month calling on AI developers, tech companies and digital music services to pledge not to use AI in ways that “undermine or replace the human artistry of songwriters and artists.”

As part of the cease-and-desist letter, King referred to “Heart on My Sleeve,” a song that featured unauthorized AI emulations of Drake that was taken down from streaming services last year after it went viral. 

“Even more recently, no doubt with your approval and possibly even at your request, your record label took down a well-publicized AI imitation of you and the Weeknd with a great deal of news coverage highlighting how damaging the fake was to you,” King wrote.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com. More from NBC News:

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