West Coast emcee 2Pac was one of the impactful rappers of the 1990s. First based in Oakland and then Los Angeles, the California musician was widely considered the frontman of Dr Dre’s Death Row Records. However, in an interview with The Art Of Dialogue podcast, songwriter and producer Delray Richardson unveiled the prevailing narrative that 2pac was a member of Death Row is false.
Delray Richardson was an individual who regularly collaborated with Dr Dre and 2Pac (real name Tupac Shakur). However, during his conversation with Mighty Bolton, the host of the Art Of Dialogue, he boldly and confidently asserted that Shakur was never signed to Death Row and even broke down various documents in the public domain that prove what he states is a fact.
When asked by Bolton why he thinks Shakur was never signed to Death Row, Richardson audaciously and bluntly responded, “Well, it’s not what I think. It’s actually what I know for a fact!” He continued, “A lot of people believe what they wanna believe, I guess because of the folklore of Death Row, but people weren’t really around at that particular time.”
Richardson explained that there was no physically signed contract but merely a document highlighting that Suge Knight was his manager. Delving into the details, the songwriter disclosed, “He was signed to Interscope if you remember, so when they went to get 2Pac out of jail if you look at the…umm. it wasn’t a contract that he signed. That was like a deal memorandum, and it was deal points as to what would be included in a contract HAD he signed to Death Row!”
Richardson went on to detail how contractually Shakur couldn’t sign with Death Row Records, divulging, “Shakur was signed to Interscope so first and foremost you would have to void out the Interscope contract in order for 2Pac to sign with Death Row! When you see and look at that contract, that’s not what happened.”
The platinum-certified producer also highlighted how when Afeni Shakur took legal action against Universal Music Group concerning her son’s music, it wasn’t Death Row who was responsible for 2pac’s catalogue, revealing, “They were trying to release the Makaveli album, and Afeni [Shakur] put out a cease and desist order, basically saying they couldn’t release the album. So who comes up and steps up to the table ’cause at this time Suge is in jail. Nobody from Death Row steps up to go and remedy the situation as far as t=2pac being signed to Death Row because there was no contract!”
He continued, “There was no accounting there was none of those things that would usually be in a contract where 2pac and his [musical] rights would be represented. Who steps up? Jimmy Iovine!” The co-founder and chairman of Interscope. So was 2pac ever signed to Death Row? Richardson argues a pretty strong case. However, only Suge Knight, Dr Dre or Jimmy Iovine can give us the truth at this point. You can watch the interview in the video below.