Suge Knight Says Kendrick Lamar and The Game Have Horrible Record Deals
Marion Hugh Suge Knight, Jr. (/ˈʃʊɡ/; born April 19, 1965) is an American record producer and music executive. He is the founder and CEO of Black Kapital Records and co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. Death RowRecords 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, Suge Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder following a fatal hit-and-run in Compton, California. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Marion Hugh Knight, Jr. was born in Compton, California, the son of Maxine (Chatman) and Marion Knight, Sr. His name, Suge, derives from “Sugar Bear”, a childhood nickname. He attended Lynwood High School in nearbyLynwood, California, where he was a football and track star. He graduated in 1983. From 1983 to 1985, he attended El Camino College on a football scholarship. In 1985, he transferred to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and played there for two years.
After college, Knight was not drafted by an NFL team, but was cut during training camp by the Los Angeles Rams. However, he became a replacement player during the 1987 NFL players’ strike, and played two games for the Rams. Later, he found work as a concert promoter and a bodyguard for celebrities includingBobby Brown.
In October 1987, Knight was arrested for domestic violence—he assaulted his girlfriend and cut off her ponytail on the street. On Halloween Night 1987, Knight was arrested in Las Vegas for auto theft, carrying a concealed weapon and attempted murder. He had allegedly shot a man three times while stealing his car. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge, and received two years probation.
Two years later, Knight formed his own music-publishing company. His first big profit in the business came when Vanilla Ice (Robert Van Winkle) agreed to sign over royalties from Van Winkle’s smash hit “Ice Ice Baby”, because the song included material written by Knight’s client Mario Johnson. Knight and his bodyguards confronted Van Winkle several times. On one occasion, Knight entered Van Winkle’s hotel room, and allegedly dangled him by his ankles off the balcony. Van Winkle said only that Knight threatened to throw him off the balcony; the claim was resolved in court.
Knight next formed an artist management company and signed prominent West Coast hip hop artists DJ Quikand The D.O.C. Through the former, he met several members of the seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A.