Former Death Row Records owner Marion “Suge” Knight recently offered a take on the buzz surrounding fellow West Coast entertainer Kendrick Lamar and why he is not your average emcee.
In Suge’s opinion, K. Dot embodies a lot of characteristics his former Death Row artists shared during their mid-1990’s run.
“Kendrick is a dude that’s an incredible artist. I’m not surprised because he’s from Compton. He grew up in Compton, that’s where he lived at, hung out at, and the guys he hangs with from his neighborhood, is p-folk. So there’s no way it wouldn’t rub off on him. There’s no way that his vision wouldn’t be aggressive or that he wouldn’t have the lyrics he has, if he didn’t grow up there. Kendrick know, anybody from Compton, that’s pretty much saying they’re a Death Row artist. That’s what they grew up to, that’s what they know, that was the people they’re involved with… they mimicked their stuff off of the blueprint I laid down. But Kendrick by far is one of them guys that they can’t f*ck with. They can’t f*ck with that boy lyrically and they better not sleep. Kendrick got a whole army behind him. He got real love out here.” (Medium)
Recently, Suge’s protégé Snoop Dogg downplayed comparisons of Top Dawg Entertainment being the new Death Row.
Snoop Dogg — aka Snoopzilla currently for his 7 Days of Funk collaboration with Dam-Funk — was surprised by GQ’s comparison of TDE to Death Row Records. “They said what?” was Snoop’s initial reaction when VIBE asked about GQ’s comparison of TDE, the record label of rising hip-hop star and current GQ cover man Kendrick Lamar, to that of Death Row Records, the iconic ’90s West Coast rap label that helped launch gangsta rap and released several of Snoop’s early albums. Even hip-hop tastemakers generally agreed that GQ’s cover story on Kendrick Lamar read like “a Hip-Hop outsider trying to explain this new movement to other Hip-Hop outsiders.” So, we asked Snoop if he thought TDE was the new Death Row Records. “No, they’re not the new Death Row,” Snoop deadpanned, “because TDE did it completely different than Death Row did it. Death Row did it with a gangsta approach.” (VIBE)
After being compared to Knight and Death Row, TDE’s Top Dawg lashed out at men’s magazine GQ a few weeks ago.
“This week, Kendrick Lamar was named one of GQ’s 2013 Men Of The Year, an honor that should have been celebrated as a milestone in his career and for the company. Instead, the story, written by Steve Marsh, put myself and my company in a negative light. Marsh’s story was more focused on what most people would see as drama or bs. To say he was “surprised at our discipline” is completely disrespectful. Instead of putting emphasis on the good that TDE has done for west coast music, and for hip hop as a whole, he spoke on what most people would consider whats wrong with Hip Hop music. Furthermore, Kendrick deserved to be accurately documented. The racial overtones, immediately reminded everyone of a time in hip-hop that was destroyed by violence, resulting in the loss of two of our biggest stars. We would expect more from a publication with the stature and reputation that GQ has. As a result of this misrepresentation, I pulled Kendrick from his performance at GQ’s annual Man Of The Year party Tuesday, November 12th.” (Press Release)
He also emphasized the focus and ultimate goal of his growing music empire.
“In 2004, I founded Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) with the goal of providing a home for west coast artists and a platform for these artists to express themselves freely and to give their music to the world. From our beginning in 2005 with Jay Rock, to developing Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, to most recently singing Isaiah Rashad and SZA. We, as TDE, have always prided ourselves in doing everything with heart, honor, and respect.” (Press Release)