Rapper Nas Dragged to Federal Court Over Alleged Tupac Photo Copyright Violation

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Rapper Nas and Tupac were not friends in much of the ’90s.

While the world focused on the East Coast-West Coast beef, circulating it around the conflict between once friends and now deceased rapper, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., few remember that the Queensbridge artist was in the mix also.

NEW YORK – JULY 23: (L-R) Rappers Nas, Tupac Shakur and Redman pose for a portrait at Club Amazon on July 23, 1993 in New York, New York. (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK – JULY 23: (L-R) Rappers Nas, Tupac Shakur and Redman pose for a portrait at Club Amazon on July 23, 1993 in New York, New York. (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Which is why one sole snapshot of the two together is one of many prize possessions of Al Pereira, celebrity photographer.

According to Radar Online, the paparazzo filed a federal lawsuit in the Central District of California on Feb. 2 against Nas for the illegal use of the image on social media.

The image captures Nas, Tupac and Redman outside of New York’s Club Amazon on July 23, 1993.

Pereira says that when he republished the picture in 2017, he registered the work for a copyright for its use. His lawsuit claims that he is suing the artist, whose real name is Nasir Jones, for posting the image without permission or a licensing agreement on Instagram in 2020.

Because the photographer makes his living by selling licenses, court documents allege that this valuable asset in his portfolio has been devalued by Nas sharing it without paying. He further mentions that Nas used the picture to make a profit, posting the image to increase his social media followers.

An example of Nas doing this was when he released the 2021 sequel to his Grammy awarding-winning album, “King’s Disease,” using Pereira’s image to promote the track titled “Death Row East.” The song chronicled the day that Nas and Pac put their differences aside and moved forward.

He captioned the post that is now removed, “The night of DEATH ROW EAST. When you got a story real as mine you can’t leave nothin out. King’s Disease II Out Now. RIP KING 2PAC. Love To The Outlawz. @hitboy KD2.”

The story that Nas wanted to convey was how they were able to get past their venomous and public dislike for each other, a fact that makes this early image so iconic.

In a rare interview with MMM Vintage Videos, Pac’s disdain is on full blast. In the interview he calls out Nas as a “sucka” while promoting this new label, Death Row East.

“All those people talking about the East Coast West Coast wars … they are like what Judas was to Jesus, only there to cause confusion,” the rapper said months before actually being shot dead in Las Vegas.

“We heard to bring money and change. All these weak rappers [like] Nas … these suckas … they battling East and West like it is a game. If this was chess, we would be calling checkmate three years ago.”

The artist went on to diss Nas after he thought the rapper was shading him by using a sample from the self-titled single from his “All Eyez on Me” double album for his song “Street Dreams” on the “It Was Written” album. He also thought that Nas threw a veiled diss at him in the song “The Message,” when he addressed a “fake thug” in his lyrics. Pac had tattooed on his stomach and used that term repeatedly in his music.

The New York-born, Baltimore-raised, and Cali representative returned the favor by releasing, “Troublesome ’96,” with the track from Nas’ hit with Lauryn Hill, “If I Ruled the World,” and sample from Kurtis Blow’s chart-topping song from the ’80s.

The back-and-forth escalated until the two, according to Nas, were able to quash their beef. The “Illmatic” rapper said before Pac died they planned on doing music.

Napoleon, one of the founding members of the Outlaws, a group affiliated with Tupac, co-signed that the two put their differences aside and were going to do music.

In an interview with “The Art of Dialogue,” Napoleon detailed the reconciliatory moment between the “Dear Mama” rapper and Nas, a few days before the rapper’s death. During the afterparty of 1996 MTV Awards, both rappers’ entourages were ready to go to blows with one another.

“Nas was there with his homies, and they started walking towards Tupac. They was deep,” Napoleon remembered. “This is an incident that should be more highlighted in the hip-hop world in general. It shows how two individuals diffuse something that could have been bloodshed.”

He said he watched Nas and Pac have a conversation about what was going on and afterward hugging each other like brothers.

“It was so loud I don’t know what they were saying, it was so loud from the music. We mean-mugging they homies. They mean-mugging us. And the next thing I know, we just seen Pac and Nas embrace and hug. They walk their way, we walked our way,” Napoleon revealed.

He said when the “I Get Around” rapper returned to the mob of friends and workers, he said he gained a great deal of respect for Nas.

“I spoke to that dude,” Napoleon said Pac said, “I got respect for him. You know, I thought he was dissing me on some songs. He made it clear wasn’t dissing me.”

Tupac told his friends that he was going to remove all of the verses on his songs that mentioned Nas negatively.

“When I go back to LA and go into the studio, I’m going to remove Nas from every song that I diss him on,” Napoleon revealed Pac said to him.

Unfortunately, Pac died a week later after the two made peace.


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