Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr., a former football player and music executive from Compton, is an American record producer. Knight is most recognized for co-founding and serving as the CEO of Death Row Records.
He has collaborated with international stars such as Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Outlawz, and Tha Dogg Pound during his career.
Suge Knight’s net worth is projected to be $200 million as of June 2022.
On April 19, 1965, Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr. was born in Compton, California. Marion Knight Sr. and Maxine have a son named Knight. His childhood nickname is “Suge.” Knight was a track and football star at Lynwood High School.
Knight was invited to the Los Angeles Rams training camp after graduation. Following his football career, he worked as Bobby Brown’s bodyguard. In 1991, he co-founded the music label Death Row Records, which gave him his big break.
Following his tenure in the NFL, Knight worked as a concert producer and bodyguard for superstars such as Bobby Brown. Knight established his own music publishing company in 1989 and made it big when Vanilla Ice decided to hand over the earnings for his hit “Ice Ice Baby” to him. It was, however, met with opposition. Knight and his bodyguards allegedly accosted Vanilla Ice several times in an attempt to get him to hand up the music rights, even breaking into his hotel room and allegedly suspending him by his ankles from the balcony.
Following that, Knight established an artist management firm and signed DJ Quik and The D.O.C., two hip hop performers. In this way, he met numerous members of the gangsta rap group N.W.A.
Death Row Records
Suge Knight is best known for being the former CEO and co-founder of Death Row Records, a label that was essential in popularising gangster rap in the 1990s.
Suge, Dr. Dre, The D.O.C., and a silent partner named Michael “Harry-O” Harris co-founded Death Row Records. Harry-O was in prison at the time, having been captured and convicted of running a large-scale drug trafficking enterprise with the Cali Cartel. Death Row received $1.5 million in startup funding from Harry-O. David Kenner, Harry-criminal O’s lawyer, joined the label as an in-house counsel while also managing his investment. Suge allegedly promised to make Harry-wife O’s Lydia a pop star in exchange for the money.
Suge Knight and Death Row Records were among the first to sign Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, and Snoop Dogg. Dre’s solo album, “The Chronic,” had reached Triple Platinum status in the United States by the end of 1993. It launched the career of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre’s disciple, who released his debut album in 1994. In the United States, “Doggystyle” earned quadruple platinum in the same year.
Knight was involved in public feuds with 2 Live Crew and Sean Combs (“Puff Daddy”). Knight blasted Combs on air at the Source Awards in August 1995, escalating their dispute. Suge Knight offered to post a $1.4 million bail for Tupac Shakur later that year, but only if the rapper agreed to sign with Death Row. He accepted and released “All Eyez on Me” and “Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory” in 1996. M.C. Hammer joined Death Row in 1995 but left soon after.
After Mr. Knight was arrested for parole violations, Death Row Records began to break apart. Several of Death Row’s most well-known musicians, including Dr. Dre, left the label soon after.
Death Row sold over 150 million albums worldwide and made an estimated $750 million in net revenue during its heyday.
Suge owes the IRS $6.5 million in overdue taxes, according to the IRS. Suge Knight declared bankruptcy in 2006. He claimed to have assets ranging from nothing to $50,000 at the time. He also claimed to owe more than $100 million in obligations, albeit much of that was due to a single $107 million judgment issued to his business partner’s former wife. Death Row was compelled to file for bankruptcy later that year as a result of these debts.
Death Row’s assets were auctioned off in 2009 for $18 million. WIDEawake Entertainment Group was the winning bidder. WIDEawake was subsequently sold to New Solutions Financial Corp. in Canada. In 2012, New Solutions Financial Corp filed for bankruptcy. Entertainment One, popularly known as eOne, purchased Death Row’s assets in 2013. Hasbro bought eOne in 2019. Hasbro’s music branch, which included Death Row’s assets, was sold to private equity behemoth The Blackstone Group in 2021. Snoop Dogg purchased the brand name and intellectual property rights to “Death Row Records” from Blackstone in February 2022 for an undisclosed sum. The music company’s immensely valuable master recordings were kept by Blackstone.
Suge has had a number of run-ins with the law in the two decades after his release from Death Row. Between 1997 to 2001, he spent four years in prison for parole violations. In 2003, he was sent back to prison for breaking his parole.
Between 2008 and 2009, Suge had a number of physical altercations. On February 8, 2012, he was arrested for the second time in Las Vegas on marijuana charges. Knight was shot in 2014 at a Video Music Awards celebration thrown by Chris Brown at a West Hollywood Sunset Strip nightclub. He was shot six times yet was able to get to the hospital on his own. Knight and Katt Williams were arrested and charged with robbery in October 2014 after a camera was stolen from a paparazzi photographer. Knight was charged in August 2017 with threatening the life of F. Gary Gray, the filmmaker of “Straight Outta Compton.” In the film, Gray’s portrayal of Suge Knight was unfavorable. Knight was blinded and had blood clots in 2017, which prevented him from attending his court sessions.
Knight married American R&B singer Michel’le while incarcerated in 1999. He had previously assisted her in becoming sober by sending her to treatment. She sought divorce six years later, only to find out that their marriage was unlawful because he was still married to an ex-wife. Bailei, the couple’s daughter, was born to them (b. 2002). Toi Lin Kelly, Suge’s fiance, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for helping Knight in contacting and interacting with the makers of a Death Row Records tell-all in 2015. Prior to his murder trial, a court had previously restricted Knight from communicating with anybody except his counsel.
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