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Stars That Died

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who is Marion Hugh Knight?

Who is Marion Hugh Knight, Jr. you probably know him as Suge Knight. Suge was born April 19, 1965 in Compton, California,. He is an entrepreneur in the hip hop music industry and co-founder and CEO of Death Row Records, and could have been credited in giving it that name from his 1996 interview with Vibe magazine. The record label rose to dominate the charts after Dr. Dre's breakthrough success The Chronic in 1992. After several years of chart successes for artists including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, Death Row Records stagnated after Knight's incarceration on parole violation charges in September
Death Row Records

The logo for Death Row Records is a blindfolded man strapped into an electric chair
Dr. Dre of N.W.A. wished to depart from both his group and their label, Ruthless Records, run by Eazy-E, another member of N.W.A. This process involved Suge Knight who negotiated a contract release for Dr. Dre that, according to N.W.A's manager Jerry Heller, involved Knight and his henchmen threatening Heller and Eazy-E with pipes and baseball bats. Ultimately, Dre co-founded Death Row Records in 1991 with Knight, who famously vowed to make it "the Motown of the '90s."
For a time, Knight made good on his ambitions: He secured a distribution deal with Interscope, and Dre's 1992 solo debut, The Chronic, became one of the most influential rap albums of all time. It also made a star of Dre's protégé, Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose debut album, Doggystyle, was another smash hit in 1993. As Dre's signature G-funk production style took over hip-hop, Death Row became a reliable brand name for gangsta rap fans, and even its lesser releases sold consistently well. However, Knight was already courting controversy; during the recording sessions for The Chronic, he was arrested for assaulting two aspiring rappers who allegedly used a phone without his permission, and was placed on several years probation.
Meanwhile, Death Row had begun a public feud with 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell, and when Knight traveled to Miami for a hip-hop convention in 1993, he was apparently seen openly carrying a gun. The following year, he opened a private, by-appointment-only nightclub in Las Vegas called Club 662, so named because the numbers spelled out MOB, Knight's gang affiliation, on telephone keypads. In 1995, he ran afoul of activist C. Delores Tucker, whose criticism of Death Row's glamorization of the "gangsta" lifestyle helped scuttle a lucrative deal with Time Warner.

Image of Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Suge Knight during Shakur's tenure on Death Row (1996)
Additionally, Knight's feud with East Coast impresario Sean Combs (aka P Diddy) took a nasty turn when Knight insulted the Bad Boy label honcho on air at the Source Awards in August 1995. Openly critical of Puffy's tendency of ad-libbing on his artists' songs and dancing in their videos, Knight announced to the audience of recording artists and industry figures, "Anyone out there who wanna be a recording artist and wanna stay a star, but don't have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing, come to Death Row."
The same year, Knight offered to post a hefty bail for Tupac Shakur if the troubled rapper agreed to sign with Death Row. Shakur agreed, setting the stage for his 1996 blockbuster double album All Eyez on Me and the smash hits "California Love" and "How Do U Want It." Shakur helped Death Row stay on top of a marketplace that was already shifting back toward the East Coast, which had devised its own distinct brand of hardcore rap.
However, the label suffered a major blow when Dr. Dre, frustrated with the company's increasingly thuggish reputation and Knight's violent inclinations, decided to leave and form his own label. A stream of Dre-dissing records followed, but things turned tragic later in 1996, when Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting as a passenger in a car driven by Knight, even though he himself was grazed by a bullet coming their way. When Shakur's East Coast rival, The Notorious B.I.G., was murdered in a similar fashion in March 1997, speculation immediately arose that Knight was involved and that B.I.G.'s death was a revenge killing, although former artists like Snoop Dogg would later state that Suge was involved in Tupac's murder as well, despite his bullet wound from that night. Subsequent investigations exposed a web of connections between Death Row Records, gang members who worked there, and LAPD officers who sometimes worked security for the label and its artists during off hours, but to date, both murders remain unsolved.
On April 4, 2006, When Suge Knight filed for bankruptcy due to civil litigation against him in which Lydia Harris claimed to have been cheated out of a 50% stake in Death Row Records was on it way out!. Prior to filing, Knight had been ordered to pay $107 million to Harris.[5] Under questioning by creditors, he denied having money tucked away in foreign countries or in an African company that deals in diamonds and gold. Bankruptcy documents filed showed Knight had no income this year from employment or operation of a business. His bank account contained just $11, and he owned clothing worth $1,000, furniture and appliances valued at $2,000, and jewelry worth $25,000, according to the records. He had testified that the last time he checked the label’s financial records was at least 10 years ago. Knight’s lawyer said that his client was still “at the helm” of Death Row and had been working on securing distribution deals for the label’s catalog. Knight had also testified that he had reached an agreement with Lydia Harris, saying "I settled for a million and signed off on it."[ Harris told reporters she had received a $1 million payment but had not agreed to settle the matter. "I'm telling you, I didn't do a settlement for $1 million. That's ridiculous. Let's keep it real,"[ she said.
Knight skipped a meeting with his creditors after injuring himself in a motorcycle accident. Another scheduled meeting with the creditors had been missed after Suge said he had experienced a death in his family. Finally on July 7, 2006, the federal judge, Ellen Carroll, ordered a bankruptcy trustee takeover of Suge Knight's Death Row Records, saying the record label had undergone a gross amount of mismanagement. She commented that "apparently there's no one at the helm of Death Row". He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which allows a company to continue business operations while restructuring. Death Row was being operated by Neilson during the bankruptcy proceedings, while Knight oversaw his bankruptcy estate as a debtor in possession.
Recently he was engaged again in another dispute with former friend and ex-associate Snoop Dogg after Snoop disrespected him in Rolling Stone magazine. Suge responded on calling Snoop Dogg "a rat" and "a crybaby", accusing him of not serving time in prison due to his close relations with the police and running away from "real" fights.[6]
In June 2007, he placed his seven-bedroom, 9 1/2-bath home in Malibu on the market for $6.2 million as part of his "financial makeover".
Knight has started a new record label called Blackball Records, with its first signee Young Life and has featured it in his new reality show called "Unfinished Business". The show is based on Knight dispelling long-standing rumors in sit down interviews, his days with Death Row and the artists he worked with, and finding new talent for his record label. As of June 2008, the show has not been picked up by any major network.

On May 10th 2008, Knight was involved in an altercation involving a monetary dispute outside of a nightclub in Hollywood. He was knocked out for 3 minutes, taken to the hospital, and did not cooperate with the LAPD. About a month later, he sold Death Row Records to New York-based company Global Music Group, which confirmed it had purchased the firm in a statement to the Associated Press news agency[7] [2]
On the 27th of August, Knight was arrested on drugs charges, as well as assault, after leaving a strip club near the Las Vegas strip. When police arrived on the scene Knight was beating his girlfriend of three years while holding a knife, and had on him both Ectasy and hydrocodone. He was later bailed for $19,000 and is due to appear in court on the 26th September to face these charges.[8] [3] Knight's girlfriend, Melissa Isaac, who was scheduled to testify against him in the assault case, has since gone missing, leading to speculation that Knight is involved in her disappearance.[9] As of October 31, police and prosecutors had still failed to contact Knight's girlfriend, Melissa Isaacs, and no formal charges have been brought against Knight. [10]
As part of an October 30th 2008 bankruptcy claim made by Suge Knight Suge has also filed a lawsuit with the intention of suing Kanye West and associates over the 2005 shooting at Kanye's pre VMA awards party in August 2005 where Knight was shot in the upper leg. Included in the lawsuit is the intention to make claims for damages over mental and physical pain caused by the shooting, costs of surgery, loss of income and the theft of a 15 carat $135,000 diamond earring.[11]

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