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Rap critic sues Shakur's estate for defamation

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

C. DeLores Tucker, who built a national reputation criticizing the violent and lewd lyrics of gangsta rap, has found a new and personal objection to rap lyrics.

Tucker, in a lawsuit filed this week in Philadelphia federal court, contends that Tupac Shakur's estate should pay her $10 million because lyrics on a 1996 album made derogatory references to her. Among other things, the lawsuit says, the anguish caused by those lyrics cut down on her sex life with her husband.

According to the lawsuit, defamatory lyrics contained on Shakur's "All Eyez on Me"--a double CD that has sold nearly 5 million copies--have caused Tucker to undergo "great humiliation, mental pain and suffering." The lawsuit contends that Tucker's injuries have caused her husband, William, to "suffer a loss of advice, companionship and consortium."

Tucker, who became a national figure three years ago because of her outspoken criticism of rap music, could not be reached for comment. Neither could Afeni Shakur, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit as administrator of her son's estate.

Richard Fischbein, a New York attorney who is co-administrator of the estate, said he is baffled by the allegations.

"It's hard for me to conceive how these lyrics could destroy her sex life," Fischbein said. "But we can only wait for the proof to be revealed in court."

In addition to Afeni Shakur, the lawsuit names Death Row Records, Interscope Records, Time Warner, Seagram Co., Tower Records and seven other individuals and entities as defendants.

The lawsuit accuses Shakur's estate and the others of slander, infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

According to the lawsuit, Tucker and her husband take particular offense to "lewd" and "indecent" references to her in two songs entitled "Wonda Why They Call U Bytch" and "How Do U Want It." In a song that the lawsuit says alludes to prostitution, Shakur's lyrics state: "Got your legs up trying to get rich. Keep your head up and your legs closed, dear Ms. C. DeLores Tucker."

Tucker, head of the Washington-based National Political Congress of Black Women, is described in the lawsuit as a "moral and religious daughter of a well-known, respected Philadelphia minister."

Tucker and former U.S. drug policy advisor William Bennett launched an anti-rap campaign in 1994 that pressured Time Warner to dump Interscope, the Westwood company that distributes such Death Row artists as Shakur, who was murdered in September, and Snoop Doggy Dogg.

The two rap critics have also criticized Seagram-owned Universal, Bertelsmann, Sony Corp., Thorn-EMI Music and PolyGram for releasing "pornographic smut" music.

Tucker, whose credibility has been challenged by accusations that she once profited from ownership of slum properties in Philadelphia, has been entangled in a legal battle with Death Row and Interscope for the last two years.

Civil lawsuits filed in August 1995 by Death Row and Interscope accused Tucker of contractual interference and suggested she had an economic motive for criticizing rap.

Tucker's lawsuit contends that Shakur's lyrics have "held her up as an object of scorn to more than 5 million people, including children in Philadelphia and elsewhere."

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