How far the mighty have fallen.
Death Row Records, the legendary West Coast hip-hop label that launched such seminal rappers as Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre to superstardom and made mint at the front of the early '90s gangsta-rap boom, has been auctioned off for a relatively measly $24 million.
New York-based Global Music Group released a statement today confirming it was the top bidder at a June 24 auction and had purchased Death Row, including its hits-laden catalog and any outstanding recording contracts, for a relative song.
Death Row filed for bankruptcy in April 2006 after company kingpin Marion "Suge" Knight was unable to pay a $107 million judgment to former partners (and former couple) Lydia and Michael Harris, the latter a convicted drug dealer. The Harrises successfully sued the label claiming they were owed a lion's share of the profits for providing start-up funds.
After Knight failed to respond to the suit and skipped several court hearings, a default judgment was entered. That forced Knight to file for Chapter 11, posting debts of $137.4 milion and only $4.4 million in assets.
According to his camp, the move also allowed him to retain control of the masters to such classic rap albums as Dre's The Chronic, 2Pac's All Eyez on Me and Snoop's Doggystyle and prevented a judge from appointing a trustee to take over managing the firm and its assets.
Not so, according to the Global Music Group, which was started by former skin-care magnate Susan Berg and also has offices in Tennessee. The company dabbles in country, rock and R&B, as well.
A board member for the music company, who did not wish to be identified, told E! News that GMG had gotten "everything," beating out competitors like Warner Music Group and EverGreen Copyrights, and said Knight no longer has a relationship with the infamous label he cofounded with Dre.
"We've got people out in L.A. masquerading like they own everything when they don't," said the exec. "We're going to be in the process of not only putting out new stuff for the catalog but signing new artists as well."
Upcoming releases could include a new posthumous Shakur compilation, made up of unreleased tracks from the vaults.
The board member said that Global Music Group was still going through what it acquired, including figuring out what artists still have contracts with Death Row.
Knight and his lawyers were not immediately available for comment.