Welcome to Death Row: The Construction and Collapse of An Empire Documented

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As NWA’s Straight Outta Compton movie buzz dies down, Daz Dillinger — of Tha Dogg Pound — has been kicking up dust in regards to the next installment of the NWA fairytale. That next installment is that of Death Row Records.

In what seems like a rush to cash in on nostalgic nepotism, Daz began announcing his plans to write and produce the Death Row film while Straight Outta Compton was still earning money in theaters. Well, that ship has been stopped from sailing because, according to WIDEawake Entertainment Group (who controls Death Row records’ post-Marion Knight estate), WIDEawake owns the all the music, which in essence, is the story.

But just because they own the virtual soundtrack to the story of West Coast rapdom after the expiration of Eazy-E doesn’t mean that the story stops being told.

In 2001, a documentary was produced called Welcome To Death Row which captured the recorded history of the construction and collapse of Death Row Records. This movie is supposedly the basis of what Daz Dillinger is shopping as the “Dogg Pound 4 Life” movie.

The physical film has since slightly fallen out of rotation due to the uptick of internet era, but we have it here today.

Watch Welcome To Death Row below.

UPDATE: I’ve been told that Daz isn’t shopping this movie, the SOC team is.

https://twitter.com/WelcomeDeathRow/status/656147212628578304

Words by Tony Grands

No Execution In Site

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WIDEawake Entertainment is the Canadian company that bought Death Row Records from whatever fiscal hell Suge Knight doomed it to. So essentially, it’s being run by a handful of Canadian White people. Now, we all know I’m nowhere near racist. I hate everybody equally. However fact is fact, (more less), & the fact that these people are Cannuck saltinesĀ© is important to the proverbial plot of the story.

Whereas, back in the days, Death Row was running this rap shit, today it’s really nothing more than an imaginary marker. Something pretty to see in your rearview mirror, so to speak. Any conversation remotely linked to Death Row Records these days is about Tupac Shakur or Snoop Dogg. Maybe Crooked I, but the average rap fan is a) too young to remember that he was once label mates with Tupac, & b) knows him from Slaughterhouse, because Death Row’s been dead for years. But I digress. Nobody is checking for Death Row Records, unless Tupac decides, from his Cuban underground stronghold, to let them release some “lost” music, or one of the current owners commits suicide or something. God forbid.

All of a sudden, though, as if we’ve collectively traveled through some mediocrity-infused time warp, there’s a website, called DeathRowMusic.com, based on the label’s former glory. Like over a decade-ago former glory. Which, in rap music terms, is a self lifetime, plus.

This is a reoccuring theme with these people; re-releasing music & reviving a moment that, unfortunately, has passed it’s expiration date. (Don’t shoot the messenger, shoot the synthesizer.) I can understand how WIDEawake could conceptualize Death Row Records as a pillar of the current rap community, especially since it seems White people either despise Black folks, or love them unconditionally (almost to a fault). However, the reasons that made Death Row Records famous had little to do with the music. Perhaps there has to be a certain amount of unbanization in play to understand that, if you smell my cologne. We just think they made all this wonderful music because the same 10 Death Row hits stay in radio rotation. However, the hit records were mere coincidence to the exciting lifestyle that made Death Row Records the monster it once was.

So, WIDEawake, as much as niggas of all colors & ethnicities love the hell out of The Chronic, I’m not rocking the album cover on a hat or shirt. Not for free. So definitely not for whatever price you’re attempting to extort from my recession snaps. Also, Tha Dogg Pound was an awesome group, 15 years ago. Same with Snoop. So, pardon me if I’m not in a hurry to buy any of their rookie year Hip Hop paraphanelia. Unless it’s a thousand dollar bill, autographed by the label’s most popular muleĀ©. In which case, I’m still not interested in spending more than 5 bucks for it. It’s just not that serious.

Really though, hire some people who are more accurately synchopated with current events. Speaking of which, in case the company reps haven’t been online recently, there’s literally thousands of thirsty, young artists, chomping at the bit for a chance to prove their worth. & that’s where you’re contribution to Hip Hop is going to come from, guys; the new talent. The un-jaded fresh meat, if you will. Until that actuality is realized, in a financial capacity, failure in imminent, site unseen.

Suge Knight Is The OJ Simpson Of Rap Music

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Not only did Suge Knight get arrested again the other day, but the station where he was held until he could cough up the $65,000 bail is literally 3-4 blocks down the street from my son’s school. Now that I think about it, I’m sure the city planner didn’t think that landscaping through. There was a litany of media vans & newspersons out in front of that place that morning. I wonder was it just a slow news day, or is it possible that Suge has officially taken OJ Simpson’s place as the Black man America can’t wait to capture?

Suge Knight was taken into custody after pointing a gun at another cat. Now, at what point does a man, who’s spent a modest amount of time behind bars, say to himself that enough is enough? That’s called “punishment gluttony” where I’m from. Or idiocy. Whatever. For whatever it’s worth, Suge shouldve been moved to Canada or something, living out his days as a “legendary” music mogul, rather than a petty crook. Did OJ teach us nothing?

High profile Black men are targets already, & White America theoretically views a rich nigga as a slap in the proverbial face of the privileged. A rich nigga with little to no respect for the law is the ultimate gesture of uprise. It’s no wonder Suge’s name keeps popping up connected to all things criminal, & even some that are just sad to watch. They did the same thing to OJ for years after her was found not guilty of killing a White woman. But OJ, who’s never been regarded as the sharpest tool in the shed, eventually broke the cycle of character assassination per se, with an asanine combination of no common sense, stupidity, & arrogance. They finally got him, & gave him ridiculous years for a crime that didn’t merit them. Now, Suge is being charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Pressure burst pipes, as the old people say.

Suge Knight is travelling the same road as OJ, & I’m not drawing any parellel’s of murder. I’m just saying. God forbid he decides that the items auctioned off are still “legally” his. I’d hate to be the guy who bought his underwear.

Don’t Feed The (Teddy) Bears

In all seriousness, Marion “Suge” Knight is the epitome of what record labels need these days: Sheer, balls-to-the-wall gangsterism. There’s way too much bitchassness going on in music, with the telling on each other, making videos about one another, empty threats of violence, airing out the personal business of grown men, etc. That’s elementary school hijinx & shenanigans at it’s prepubescent best. When it’s all said & done, you need a dude who’ll walk into an office & slap the shit out of somebody, without a video camera or a speech, should the situation call for it. Suge Knight, with all the alleged extra time on his hands, could easily fill the position at a number of softer than normal record labels.

By no means is Suge untouchable, though. He’s been down before, several times, but the fact that he gets back up, dusts himself off & returns to the ring to further antagonize weaker opponents has got to count for something. That’s the attitude the makes The Undertaker such an awesome wrestler. Plus, every supervillian has to have a weakness. Suge’s just happens to be staying out of trouble.

I went to school with cats like Suge. Generally, they were teddy bears. It’s just a matter of what side of their meal are you on. Are you helping them eat or blocking the plate? As long as you swing a “food chain”, per se, you won’t become part of it. What usually ends up happening is that everyone takes the “teddy bear” myth to heart, & ends up thinking every big man is cuddle-ready & looking for a friend. No dice. There’s a reason most professional security guards look like or are out of work football players. You don’t live a lifetime as a giant without some outwardly hostile attributes. I’m most cases, even the bears that become bullies undergo some life-changing experience that makes them more laxed in life. Suge has had a few of those instances, yet hasn’t changed. It’s safe to say that this dude is set in his ways, however detrimental they may be.

Let us not forget, Suge was a security guard & a football player-turned mogul in a cutthroat business based on lying, stealing & general deception. For the most part, music had nothing to do with Death Row Records, so to speak. Whatever bad habits were developed during his ownership of the company haven’t been broken yet & probably won’t be. Ever.

There’s only a few ways I see Suge Knight’s story ending, but I’ll say this much: the book he (or his “autobiographer) writes about it will be a good read. The movie will be even better. We may even finally find out who killed Tupac.