Death Row Records: Executed

It’s official… one of the biggest players at the forefront of the 1990’s Gangsta Rap movement has flatlined. In 1991, Dr. Dre and Suge Knight came together to form what was to be one of the most influential record labels of the time and genre in Death Row. Death Row not only launched Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, arguably one of the most important albums of the genre, but also provided the starting point for Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound (Daz and Kurupt) and 2Pac‘s All Eyez on Me…a bounty for Death Row bailing Pac out of jail.  At its peak, Death Row was the undisputed heavyweight when it came to Gangsta Rap.

Over the years, Death Row sold over 50 million units and banked somewhere in the range of 750 million dollars. However, after 1997, the majority of all of this profit was from the ownership of the master recordings from 2Pac, Dre and Snoop, and the company had grown stagnant in regards to new material. Further escalating their issues was the fact that Suge Knight, basically power hungry and still feeling like he owned the world, continued to alienate rappers and fans and failed to produce anything that could follow the success of Death Row’s formative years.

In addition, of the hundreds of millions of dollars Death Row produced, large portions were claimed in court lawsuits by people who provided start up money and were never given a share of the revenue This ended with Knight declaring bankruptcy (137M owed, only 4M in assets) and the record label was put up for auction Today, Death Row was purchased, masters and all for $24 million by Global Music Group.  GMG  dabbles in country, rock, R&B and now hip-hop and rap, as they have mentioned plans to sign new artists and release more vaulted 2Pac material.  When you think about the kind of revenue that these masters are still producing today, $24 million for the entire catalog seems like a steal Of course, you’re not getting much in the way of brand name recognition because rap fan’s memories are about as long as a radio single these days, but there has to be some future value from the old masters

Death Row Logo


So, to Death Row Records, a leader in the changing face of rap music in the early 90s, Evolving Music wishes you a fond farewell, and a future with a global music conglomerate not unlike the major labels I deride on a regular basis.


4 Responses to “Death Row Records: Executed”

  1. 2 -- August 16, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Death Row Records Auction Bidders Make Peace to Close Rap Deal
    2008-08-14 00:50:28.620 GMT

    By Liane M. Kufchock
    Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) — A fight for control of the assets of
    Death Row Records Inc., the bankrupt rap label, ended in a truce
    with two companies saying they’ll work together to close a
    $24 million sale that includes the rights to popular artists.
    Global Music Group Inc. of Delaware dropped a lawsuit
    against Global Music Group of New York after reaching an
    agreement to be equal partners, said Ron Goldberg, head of the
    Delaware group. Last month, the groups traded accusations of
    death threats and falsifying documents in a dispute in a Los
    Angeles bankruptcy court over who won an auction to buy the
    record label.
    “We had a disagreement and it’s over,” Goldberg said
    today in a telephone interview. “We’re virtually 50-50 partners
    on most aspects of the deal. I couldn’t be happier and I’m not
    an easy person to please.”
    Trustees for the bankruptcy case postponed a July 23
    deadline to close the sale after members of the New York group
    alleged in court papers that Goldberg threatened them with
    extortion and death, prompting a lender to back out of a
    financing agreement.
    Goldberg, who through his lawyer denied making threats, had
    accused former business partner Anthony Marotta and others of
    cutting him out of the deal by changing the company’s location
    on bidding documents from Delaware to New York.
    Kathleen March, an attorney representing the New York
    group, confirmed a settlement was reached. She declined in a
    phone interview today to discuss terms of the deal or to
    disclose the new closing deadline, which she said isn’t part of
    the public record.
    Goldberg’s attorney, Michael Collesano, said he expects to
    file the terms of the settlement with the bankruptcy court.
    “The trustees’ counsel asked us to file the settlement
    with the court,” Collesano said.

    State Court Complaint

    Goldberg sued Marotta and other former partners July 15 in
    California state court to stop them from claiming they own Death
    Row Records’ assets, including its music catalog, under the name
    Global Music Group New York. That complaint, which sought more
    than $25 million in damages, was transferred to the federal
    bankruptcy court.
    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Vincent Zurzolo refused to hold up
    the sale, saying in a July 24 order that Goldberg’s allegations
    “do not appear to attack the propriety of the sale or sale
    procedures, but instead reflect an ownership dispute.”
    Death Row Records, founded in 1991, signed some of rap’s
    biggest names, including 2Pac, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. It filed
    for bankruptcy in April 2006 after owner Marion “Suge” Knight
    failed to pay a $107 million legal judgment to former partners
    Lydia and Michael Harris.
    The bankruptcy case is Death Row Records, 06-11205, U.S.
    Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

    –Editors: Peter Blumberg, Mike Hytha

    To contact the reporter on this story:
    Liane Kufchock in Southfield, Michigan, +1-248-827-2949 or

    To contact the editors responsible for this story:
    Patrick Oster at +1-212-617-4088 or;
    Jennifer Sondag at 212-617-2716 or

  2. 3 offices June 6, 2018 at 5:55 pm

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  1. 1 Quick Hollywood Gossip Round Up Vol. 39 Trackback on July 14, 2008 at 5:22 pm

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