Kevin Powell is speaking for the first time since he filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the writers and producer of the troubled Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me.
All Eyez On Me has been getting tomatoes thrown at it since it hit theaters June 16. It has received criticism from fans and people who knew him, however getting hit with a lawsuit is something no movie crew wants.
Powell claims that the movie lifted words from his interviews with Tupac from the early 1990s when he was writing for VIBE Magazine, without permission or compensation. Originally, Powell released a statement via Facebook and directed all questions to his lawyers. However, he publically speaking for what he calls the first and last time on the lawsuit.
In an interview with writer Olivia Jordan, Powell not only calls Eyez a bad movie but says it is disrespectful to ‘Pac’s legacy, his mother Afeni and their family as well.
One Powell’s more passionate answers read:
I thought, first, that ALL EYEZ ON ME is not a good film, that it is very clear it is not on the level of other biopics, like the Johnny Cash one, or the Ray Charles one, or the N.W.A one, not even close. It was very clear to me that it was rushed at the last minute to beat a deadline, in late 2015, before the full rights reverted back to Afeni Shakur. I found that offensive, because we all know Tupac Shakur is one of the major global icons at this point, as big as Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo. He represents so many things to so many different people. I know this from my travels around America and internationally, and from all the mail and emails and various kinds of messages I get from folks who love Pac still, to this day. So to see a film put together in that haphazard sort of way felt like a money grab to me, like folks were just trying to profit from his fame, and were also banking on the movie doing as well as N.W.A.’s STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. The huge difference, of course, is that COMPTON is a very well-made film. ALL EYEZ ON ME is not, not even close. The second thing for me is how uncomfortable I was as things from my Vibe articles were literally lifted into the movie. No consultation with me, no credit for me, no compensation for me. Like it was no big deal, like I was never going to say anything. That hurt, as a writer who put in the work, the sweat, the time, the energy to document Tupac’s life, including when many did not want to do so, to just sit there and watch the makers of this film just lift my work in that way. It was a private screening with other media folks, just two days before the film opened, finally, when I got to see ALL EYEZ ON ME. I was so upset that I literally walked forty New York City blocks from Midtown Manhattan down to SOHO, to clear my head of what I was feeling. And what I was feeling, and what I still feel, is incredibly violated and disrespected as a writer, as a documentarian of Tupac Shakur’s life and times.
Powell is suing for compensation for use of his work and has even pushed for the film to be yanked from theaters. With all of the controversy surrounding this film, it might just need to be put out to pasture.
Read Powell’s entire interview here.