Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr. (/ˈʃʊɡ/; born April 19, 1965) is an American record producer and music executive. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Death Row Records rose to dominate the rap charts after Dr. Dre’s breakthrough album The Chronic in 1992. After several years of chart successes for artists including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Outlawz and Tha Dogg Pound, Death Row Records stagnated after Knight’s incarceration on probation violation charges in September 1996 and went bankrupt in 2006.
In February 2015, Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder following a fatal hit-and-run in Compton, California. He pleaded not guilty to all charges
In 1996, Knight was sent to prison for a probation violation. In February 1997, he was sentenced to nine years for the violation. He was released on August 6, 2001.
In 2003, he was sent to prison again for violating parole when he struck a parking lot attendant. Death Row Records’ income rapidly declined due to Knight’s incarceration. It managed to save itself from complete bankruptcy by releasing archived Snoop Dogg compilation albums and posthumous Tupac albums. Despite signing new artists, Suge never released any of their albums.
In 2006 Knight was engaged in another dispute with former friend and ex-associate Snoop Dogg after Snoop insulted him in Rolling Stone.
On May 10, 2008, Knight was involved in an altercation involving a monetary dispute outside of a nightclub in Hollywood. He was knocked out for 3 minutes, taken to the hospital, and reportedly did not cooperate with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
On August 27, 2008, Knight was arrested on drug and aggravated assault charges after leaving a Las Vegas strip club. When police arrived on the scene, Knight was beating his girlfriend of three years, Melissa Isaac, and brandishing a knife. Reports also alleged that he was under the influence of both ecstasy and hydrocodone. On December 5, 2008, Suge Knight was cleared of all charges. Knight’s attorney, David Chesnoff, said the prosecution had “discovery problems and witness problems”. When Knight was asked about the positive verdict he replied “God is good, Happy Holidays”.
As part of an October 30, 2008 bankruptcy claim, Suge also filed a lawsuit against Kanye West and his associates. The lawsuit concerns an August 2005 shooting at Kanye’s pre-Video Music Awards party, where Knight was wounded by a gunshot to the upper leg. The lawsuit cites damages of mental and physical pain caused by the shooting, costs of surgery, loss of income and the theft of a 15-carat (3.0 g) US$147,000 diamond earring. In February 2009, Knight was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn to be treated for face injuries he received during an altercation at a private party in the W Scottsdale Hotel, where Knight was reportedly punched by Robert L. Carnes Jr. after exchanging words with him. Officers saw Carnes punch Knight and arrested Carnes and Thomas Leon Anderson Jr., both of whom were accused of assault and disorderly conduct.
In late March, 2009, Knight was implicated in the robbery of Akon producer, Noel “Detail” Fisher. According to Christopher Walker, an employee of Detail, on the morning of March 25, 2009, five armed men broke into Detail’s house, stating that they were collecting a debt on behalf of Knight. US$170,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, along with a locked safe, stereo equipment and the key to a Mercedes vehicle. Walker claims the incident is related to the altercation at the W Scottsdale Hotel in February.
Knight started a new record label called Blackball Records, with its first artist Young Life and current label A&R Lesane Casino from Baltimore, Maryland and featured it in a reality show, Unfinished Business. The show was based on Knight dispelling long-standing rumors in sit down interviews, his days with Death Row and the artists he worked with, and finding new talent for his record label. As of April 2009, the show had not been picked up by any major network The label name has since been changed To Black Kapital Records.
Remaining items from Knight’s personal property were auctioned in the first episode of Storage Wars on A&E, which aired on December 1, 2010.
On February 8, 2012, Suge Knight was arrested in Las Vegas, after police found marijuana in his car and several warrants for prior traffic violations. Suge is currently on three years unsupervised probation for driving with a suspended license.
On Sunday, August 24, 2014, Knight was shot, at another pre-Video Music Awards party, this one hosted by Chris Brown, in Los Angeles, After being shot six times, he was able to walk from the venue to an ambulance. His injuries required surgery.It is reported by investigators that Knight was the intended target of the shooting from closed circuit television (CCTV) footage taken at the scene.Knight was released from the hospital on August 27. Friend Keith Middlebrook told the New York Daily News that Knight returned home with the intentions to “heal up in a few days and be stronger than ever”.Knight has so far refused to cooperate with law enforcement on the matter. On November 13, 2015 BET reported Jeezy claimed on the Breakfast Club that he would have been shot had he not been pushed out of the way just prior to the shots.
On October 29, 2014, Knight and comedian Katt Williams were arrested for the theft of a camera from photographer Leslie Redden in an incident which occurred in Beverly Hills on September 5. Both men were charged with second degree robbery. Because of his prior convictions, Knight may receive 30 years in prison. Knight’s attorney Richard Schonfeld announced during an extradition and bail hearing that Knight experienced dizziness and chest pain after falling in jail. He was taken to University Medical Center. As stated by Knight’s attorney Julia Raye, there doctors found a blood clot in his lung and she attributed Knight’s shooting two months prior as the cause.
On November 5, Knight pleaded not guilty to having stolen the photographer’s camera, after which he was immediately taken into custody on US$500,000 bail, as stated by district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison. Everlert Entertainment posted his bail. Knight was scheduled to return to court on January 27, 2015.