The brainchild of Dr. Dre and Suge Knight; Death Row Records started off in 1991 as a label for West Coast rap artists to showcase their talents and receive much-needed hype during a time when East Coast rap dominated mainstream radio stations. Death Row Records reign of the rap industry in the 1990’s was created on the philosophy of violence, corruption, and gang-related crimes. Suge Knight is from Compton, California and grew up in the midst of Mob Pirus territory and used funds from the Bounty Hunter Bloods to help create Death Row Records.
Many of you may recall the notorious “Vanilla Ice” situation or how Suge Knight convinced Eazy E & Ruthless Records to release Dr. Dre from his contractual obligations. These are only a fraction of the brutal occurrences of Death Row Records; their chokehold on the music industry would have lasting effects for years-to-come. Over the decades, many high-profile musicians and associates have ended up on a Death Row Records “hit list” that seems to never cease. Even after the fall of Death Row Records in 2006, the mysterious deaths of its associates and enemies remain unsolved.
Here’s a list of individuals connected to the web of theories surrounding Death Row Records.
Eazy-E and Ruthless Records went head-on with Death Row Records with the diss song “Real Compton City G’s” and a rivalry was born in rap history. This was only one instance of animosity between the two labels. Suge Knight allegedly terrorized Eazy-E and Jerry Heller with baseball bats and threats to release Dr. Dre from Ruthless Records.
Eazy-E died of complications from AIDS in March of 1995 and his death has remained suspicious due to certain details surrounding his case. Soon after Eazy’s diagnosis, his health spiraled yet he didn’t resemble the typical “AIDS” patient in terms of the physical condition. No women have come forward with claims of contracting HIV from Eazy-E and his wife (Tomica Wright) has no traces of the virus.
Suge Knight made a chilling statement on Jimmie Kimmel about “injecting AIDS” into people.
“See, technology is so high, right? So if you shoot somebody, you’re going to jail forever,” he said. “So they got stuff where they get blood from somebody with AIDS, and they shoot you with it. So that’s a slow death—that Eazy-E thing.”– Suge Knight
Ruthless Records associate and rapper Frost believes Eazy-E was injected with HIV after a four-wheeler accident; Eazy-E seeked to heal the injury at an acupuncture session. Eazy-E’s son believes this father was murdered and it has gained traction since Suge’s comments.
Death Row Records provided the bond needed to released Tupac from prison in October 1995. Tupac signed a contract that would result in the production of three albums for his contractual obligation. “All Eyez On Me” counted as two albums since it was a two-disc production; the “Makaveli” album was his last album and would’ve released him from Death Row if he didn’t sign another contract. Tupac wanted to upstart his own label called Makaveli Records and movie company under the name of Euphanasia.
Many disagree on his true intentions; would Makaveli records had been under the Death Row branch or did Tupac want to leave completely, similar to Dr. Dre’s departure for Aftermath Entertainment? Would that be a motive for Suge Knight to kill him or did P-Diddy take personal offense to the diss record “Hit ‘Em Up” and decided it was time for Tupac to die? Or did Death Row Records associate Reggie Wright JR. and Suge Knight’s Ex-Wife have a hand in the setup?
The life of Tupac Shakur came to a screeching halt in Las Vegas; he was there on September 7th, 1996 attending the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon boxing match. After leaving the fight, Tupac got into an altercation in the lobby of the MGM. At around 11:15 p.m. thirteen bullets smashed through the passenger side of the BMW Tupac, and Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight were riding in. Suge Knight sustained a head wound from a piece of glass; four of the bullets made their way into Tupac’s flesh. Tupac was pronounced dead six days later on Friday the thirteenth. Many clues were left behind, and countless fans believe he faked his death.
The only eye-witness who told the cops they could possibly identify the shooters was Outlawz member Kadafi. Kadafi was shot and killed execution style November 10, 1996. The shooter later came forward and confessed, he was identified Roddy, a cousin of fellow Outlawz member Napolean. Kadafi was scheduled to look at a police sketch lineup for the Las Vegas Police Department through his lawyer David Kenner but this never flourished.
Different theories have arisen since Kadafi’s death and a post on the Makaveli-Board.net attempts to describe the truth behind his murder —
“I’m not gonna say any names. Yak was indeed murdered by Napolean’s cousin. Yak had gotten some work from someone and they sent dude to collect$ and Yak never paid up and because of that, he was murdered by Napolean’s cousin. It wasn’t an accident, they weren’t playing Russian roulette what others had said it was murder. See yak wasn’t the same after Pac got killed, he was paranoid to death and learned from Pac never leave home without ya gun and vest. They knew yak had his vest on and gun with him when they came to the projects. they knocked on the door and Yak girl told him the door, not thinking nothing of it because of who it was Yak left his gun on the table and went in the hallway. As soon as he went in the hallway Yak was grabbed from behind from one of the dudes and Napolean’s cousin pulled his gun out and pointed it in Yaks face asking where is the money u owe. Now they all were high cause we all use to take pills back then. Yak so high thought it was a joke a said that little ass shit(380caliber) ain’t going through my vest so he raised it to his head and shot him in the eye yak falling to the ground and them two ran off leaving Yak to die in the project hallway. Yaks girl was looking thru the peep hole watching and listening to the whole thing…”
The Notorious B.I.G.
The West Coast/East Coast rap rivalry is responsible for the downfall of two of Hip-Hop’s best-known musicians, Tupac and Biggie Smalls. On March 8th, 1997, Biggie was attending an after party at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California. Biggie and entourage left the party 12:30 a.m. (March 9th) and while stuck-in-traffic at 12:45 a.m. – A black Chevy Impala pulled beside the Chevy Suburban Biggie was a passenger in; an African American male dressed in a blue suit and bow tie released gunfire. Four bullets from a 9MM blue-steel pistol hit Biggie in the wrist, the back, left thigh and the fatal wound through his right hip. Biggie was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
Suge Knight has been implicated in the “hit” and theories related to his gang affiliations have been at the forefront of police inquiries such as Detective Russell Poole’s investigation. Biggie’s murder remains unsolved but the chief suspect is former police officers David Mack and an associate.
Video footage released a few years ago has also led people to believe the shooter(s) were on-foot.
Johnny J was one of Tupac’s favorite producers and contributed to albums such as “Me Against The World” and “All Eyez On Me”. Johnny J’s beef with Death Row followed after Tupac’s death; royalties from Tupac’s albums were never paid and this caused Johnny J to seek financial retribution from the label. On July 27, 2008, Johnny J was arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, California and sentenced to three years in prison.
On October 3, 2008, while incarnated at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Johnny J somehow managed to sneak by Correctional Officers and jump to his death at 6:45 p.m. It took over 45 minutes for his suicide to be noticed. Theories around his death include a possible gang-related motive acted on the behalf of Blood or Crips members inside the Twin Towers Facility.
Russell Poole was an LAPD homicide detective and private investigator who conducted the investigation into the death of Notorious B.I.G. and provided the best-known theories on the culprits to his murder. Poole implicated LAPD Officer David Mack and associate Amir Muhammad in connection with Biggie’s death; this theory was featured in a 2001 documentary “Biggie & Tupac”.
Poole began to investigate new information on the deaths of Biggie and Tupac for an upcoming book “Chaos Merchants”. Russell Poole set up a meeting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to discuss new details in the case. Poole attended the meeting along with four investigators connected to the Suge Knight 1 Oak Nightclub shooting in 2014 and another investigator; all who attended are unknown to the public. Russell Poole fell to his death from a suspected heart attack while discussing police corruption within the LAPD in regards to the murders of Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Russell Poole allegedly intended to apologize to Suge Knight after this “new evidence” pointed to Reggie Wright JR. and Suge Knight’s ex-wife.
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