Former Death Row Records owner Marion “Suge” Knight recently reflected on his label’s golden era in the 1990’s and how big of a throwback music enthusiast he was then.
According to Knight, his love for classic soulful records played a big role on Death Row’s artists.
“At that time, any time you got in my car, it was always old sh*t in my CD changer. Tupac would hop in my whips to go grab a broad or something. We’d be at the studio and he’d go grab the keys, hop in that mothaf*cka and drive and call back and be like “Hey, I’m in your car but why you don’t got no good music?” It would be Al Green, Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway. I’d give sh*t to everybody [and] because everybody heard it so much, everybody took took a liking to it, and adopted it. My family, that’s all we grew up on was those oldies. So it wasn’t nothing for people on the West Coast to take ideas or concepts from those old records and make them into hits. Even Snoop, his folks are from Mississippi also. People from the South, they was buying 45s and 33s, they was playing those albums… that was a big influence on every record on Death Row.” (Rolling Stone)
Knight also gave his thoughts on Snoop’s Doggystyle celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
“When we put out The Chronic people felt there’s no way in the world somebody can ever do an album and it come out that well. When The Chronic was out, even Snoop will tell you, if he came on the Interscope side, he didn’t see Jimmy [Iovine] any of those guys call Snoop in the office, chop it up with him… because he wasn’t the one. And then when Doggystyle came out, sh*t, he couldn’t walk in there without them trying to give him some weed. People thought it couldn’t get no better. But the Dogg Pound came in and done well. And then came Tupac. It wasn’t Tupac because he was a new artist. Tupac was on Interscope the whole time. They couldn’t break a record on him. They couldn’t make him a superstar. But the minute I got Pac out of prison…” (Rolling Stone)
Recently, 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)