Afeni Shakur, the mother of slain rap star Tupac Shakur, has opened her own record label and plans to put out hundreds of unreleased songs by her late son.
Her company, Amaru Records, is scheduled on Nov. 25 to release “R U Still Down? (Remember Me),” a double-CD collection featuring two dozen songs recorded by Shakur between 1991 and 1994, while he was still under contract to Interscope Records. All music released by Amaru will be distributed by Bertelsmann- affiliated Jive Records.
Based on the phenomenal response to other posthumously released work by Shakur, retailers are predicting that “R U Still Down” will debut in the top 10 on the national pop chart. One year after his murder, Shakur has two albums on the chart, including the third best-selling album in the country: the soundtrack from the film “Gang-Related,” in which Shakur starred.
In an interview on Wednesday, Afeni Shakur said she has gained access to about 10 albums’ worth of previously unreleased tracks culled from recording sessions during her son’s tenure at Interscope and Death Row Records.
“Tupac was unbelievably prolific,” Afeni Shakur said. “I feel real giddy about starting this label. Tupac always wanted to have his own company. To be honest, this is the first time since his death that I have been able to smile about something.”
Tupac Shakur was gunned down by an unknown assailant on Sept. 7, 1996, at a busy Las Vegas intersection.
Amaru Records (the moniker was derived from the slain rapper’s middle name) has also been granted the right to re-release Shakur’s four previous Interscope albums: “2Pacalypse Now,” “Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,” “Thug Life” and “Me Against the World.”
Earlier this year, Shakur’s estate was given creative control over all of Shakur’s Interscope material and will receive a royalty for each album sold, sources said. Jive will collect manufacturing and distribution fees for putting the albums out. Interscope will retain ownership of all master tapes recorded while Shakur was under contract at the Westwood label.
Amaru also plans to release about 100 tracks recorded by Shakur for Death Row between 1995 and the rapper’s death. Afeni Shakur was granted the right to release the material after a meeting last summer with Death Row owner Marion “Suge” Knight at the Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo, where he is incarcerated on a probation violation.
Death Row Records, however, will retain ownership of the master tapes to Shakur’s “All Eyez on Me” and “Macheveli: The Don Killuminati” albums, as well as previously unreleased material by other Death Row acts on which Shakur appeared as a guest artist.
Afeni Shakur said she also intends to release music by other artists on Amaru. The first act that the label plans to sign is Michelle, an unknown British singer with whom Afeni Shakur says her son wanted to make a record.