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Death Row up for sale again

By | Published on Friday 9 January 2009

If you were disappointed that you missed out on the opportunity to buy seminal hip hop label Death Row Records when it went on sale a couple of years back as a result of owner Suge Knight’s bankruptcy, well good news, it’s back on the market.

The original home of artists like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg was bought by an investment group called Global Music in 2007, despite other potential buyers – Warner Music and Koch in particular – withdrawing their bids because they said the administrative affairs of the label had been so shambolic it was difficult to say for sure who really owned half of the master recordings offered in the sale.

But it now transpires that some of the money people behind Global Music’s bid have got cold feet and their acquisition of Death Row’s assets has collapsed, which is why the label is back on the market. It’s due to be auctioned off on 15 Jan, which is my Dad’s birthday. Perhaps I’ll buy it for him.

There are reports doing the rounds that those Global investors who have backed away from the deal have done so out of fear of what Knight might do to them for participating in the acquisition (not that Knight has a history of violence or shady associates or anything).

Death Row’s assets are being sold off, of course, to pay Knight’s many creditors, and in particular Lydia Harris, one of the label’s co-founders, whose bitter legal battle for the share of the Death Row profits she claimed she was due led to the hip hop mogul going bankrupt.

Although Harris has been quoted by some as saying a fear of Knight is behind the collapse of the Global takeover, she’s told Billboard: “It isn’t about them being scared. It’s about money and greed”.

Harris continues: “Everybody wants to hide behind the fear of Suge Knight – the fear is something they are latching on to – but all them still do business with him. At the end of the day, he’s still living, he made people a lot of money and opened doors for a lot of them. It isn’t about them being scared. That’s what people need to realise. These people still deal with Suge everyday. It’s the money. It’s the greed”.

Harris who, of course, wants the Death Row purchase to go through more than anyone (in a bid to see at least some of the $107 million settlement awarded to her in her original legal action against Knight), and so is a bit angry that the Global deal has faltered and, in doing so, put off this matter being sorted another eighteen months.

She even goes as far as accusing the people behind Global of “destroying” the Death Row legacy and turning it into “a joke”, though I think that had happened long before Global got involved, mainly when the Harris/Knight dispute first went to court.