Jermaine Dupri isn’t holding back when it comes to his thoughts on Drake’s use of artificial intelligence. At a recent panel with music industry veteran Steve Stoute, Dupri criticized Drake for using AI-generated voices of 2Pac and Snoop Dogg in his controversial diss track, “Taylor Made Freestyle.” The track, aimed at Kendrick Lamar, sparked significant backlash and was ultimately deleted after 2Pac’s estate threatened legal action.

According to Jermaine Dupri, Drake’s use of AI to recreate the voices of two iconic hip-hop legends is not only ignorant but also potentially harmful. “It’s not teaching people anything. If you’re going to use AI, you’ve got to use it in a smart way. Because the people that are touching it, at this point, they don’t understand some of the things that it can damage, right?” Dupri said.

Reflecting on Drake’s decision, Dupri emphasized that many fans and artists take 2Pac very seriously. “If you look at the Drake song where he used Snoop and 2Pac’s voice, I don’t think people listened to that and understand how serious people take 2Pac […] I think Snoop understood why he shouldn’t answer to it because it could have gotten really dangerous,” he added.

Dupri, who has witnessed every era of Hip Hop, recalled how real and dangerous the 2Pac and Biggie era was. “This ain’t no play-play Instagram shit. There are people that really live that life,” he said, criticizing Drake’s apparent disregard for the legacy and impact of these legends.

“The fact that you feel like you can just use 2Pac’s voice […] To not [issue a disclaimer] and think you can jump on the internet and do things with people’s voices, to me, it’s ignorance,” Dupri stated bluntly.

Other notable figures in the hip-hop community have also weighed in. 2Pac’s brother, Mopreme Shakur, and former Death Row Records boss, Suge Knight, voiced their disapproval. “Young people do what young people do. It’s y’all turn, but regarding the homie ‘Pac, he wasn’t no chump. Putting him on a song and dissing Kendrick for everybody entertainment — that ain’t how it go,” Knight remarked on his prison podcast, Collect Call. He also criticized the inclusion of Snoop Dogg on the track. “Putting him on a song with Snoop, who was a part of his downfall and exit, ain’t ever a good look. ‘Pac was a king on that chessboard. He never was a pawn, so he can’t make him be a pawn now.”

Snoop Dogg himself seemed bewildered by his AI-generated appearance on the song. In a brief Instagram clip, he responded, “They did what? When? How? Are you sure? [Sigh] Y’all have a good night. Why everybody calling my phone, blowing me up? What the fuck— what happened? What’s going on? I’m going back to bed. Good night.”

Following the backlash, “Taylor Made Freestyle” was removed from Drake’s social media pages after a cease and desist letter from 2Pac’s estate. The letter expressed strong disapproval, stating, “The Estate is deeply dismayed and disappointed by your unauthorized use of Tupac’s voice and personality. 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. The Estate would never have given its approval for this use.” The letter also highlighted that Kendrick Lamar, who was dissed in the track, is a good friend of the Estate and has always shown respect to 2Pac’s legacy.

The backlash and subsequent removal of the track underline the complexities and ethical considerations surrounding the use of AI in music, especially when it involves legendary artists who continue to influence the genre. Drake’s experimentation with this technology has clearly hit a nerve in the hip-hop community.

Jermaine Dupri’s strong words and the broader backlash serve as a reminder of the potential pitfalls of using AI in music. Respect for the legacy of iconic artists like 2Pac and Snoop Dogg should be paramount, and the industry must tread carefully as it navigates this new technological landscape.

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