Death Row Records is a label based in Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 1991 by The D.O.C., Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, and Dick Griffey. Back then, the label made a name by releasing multi-platinum hip-hop albums by West Coast-based artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, and Tupac. Death Row made more than $100 million per year at its peak. But did you know that in 2019, this record label was sold to a new owner?
On August 23, 2019, the American toy company Hasbro announced the purchase of eOne for $4 billion. This also made them the owner of Death Row Records. Hasbro and Entertainment One announced in April 2021 that they would sell eOne Music to The Blackstone Group. The purchase was completed in June 2021.
The History of Death Row Records
Marion Knight, a former professional football player, known to all in the music industry as Suge, conceived and founded Death Row. Knight was raised in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton by musically and athletically inclined parents. Knight parlayed his early talent as a football player into a full scholarship at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and, later, a brief career with the Los Angeles Rams.
Following his retirement from football, Knight worked as a bodyguard, providing security for Los Angeles rap concerts and R&B singer Bobby Brown, and thus developed business connections throughout the rap music industry.
In 1990, he met producer and rap artist Andre Dr. Dre Young, who was signed to Ruthless Records at the time, and the two formed a partnership that became Death Row.
Soon after the formation of Death Row, the company signed a distribution agreement with Interscope. This relatively new record label had made a name by supporting and distributing obscure or controversial bands. Inter-scope, led by James Loveine and financial tycoon Ted Field, was partly owned and financed by Warner Music Group, a division of Time Warner, and thus provided Death Row with the economic clout required for a successful debut. (Source: Encyclopedia)
When Did Death Row Records File for Bankruptcy?
The saga of financial problems that have plagued Death Row Records since the early 2000s may be coming to an end this year. According to reports, the label’s current owner, WIDEawake Entertainment Group Inc., is declaring bankruptcy and intends to sell Death Row Records to save the company.
On April 4, 2006, Death Row Records and Suge Knight both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the same time, following the appointment of a Receiver to acquire and auction off assets of both Death Row Records and Suge Knight in Lydia Harris’ civil case against Suge Knight. The Harrises, the Internal Revenue Service, Koch Records, Interscope Records, and several artists previously signed to Death Row are listed as unsecured creditors. Suge Knight eventually lost control of Death Row Records and his assets when Chapter 11 Trustees took over both cases. (Source: My Arizona Lawyers)