- Snoop Dogg bought Death Row Records from the Blackstone Group in 2022, acquiring the name, rights, and music catalog.
- The exact worth of Death Row Records is unknown, but it is significantly less than its reported peak value of $100 million per year.
- Death Row Records has had a tumultuous history, changing ownership multiple times and facing bankruptcy.
- Founder Suge Knight and the company were involved in gang violence and murder accusations.
- Under Snoop Dogg’s ownership, Death Row Records is releasing new music and selling NFTs and memorabilia.
Death Row Records once dominated the West Coast hip-hop scene. They signed some of the biggest names in the industry and had numerous platinum records. But with a string of controversies attached to its founder, Suge Knight, the company found itself in hard times. Despite the drama and multiple bankruptcies, it remains in business today.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the company’s most popular artists managed to buy the company for pennies on the dollar. While this was a private acquisition with no official numbers given to the public, we do have some estimates of what the company is worth.
Keep reading to uncover the full details of who owns Death Row Records and how much it is worth today.
Who Owns Death Row Records?
Death Row Records is currently owned by the label’s former artist, Snoop Dogg.
He bought the company in 2022 from the Blackstone Group. The initial purchase was for the name and rights to the company, with Snoop later finalizing a deal for the extensive back catalog of music. Snoop Dogg later sold a portion of the company’s music rights to Larry Jackson’s entertainment company, gamma, which is now a distributor.
How Much is Death Row Records Worth?
When Death Row Records changed ownership in 2021, the Blackstone Group paid $385 million for the entirety of Entertainment One. However, it was only a small fraction of Entertainment One’s portfolio, so its current value is significantly less.
For comparison, WIDEawake Entertainment bought the company in a bankruptcy auction in 2006 for only $18 million, and Entertainment One paid $6 million in 2012.
Because there have been few releases in the decade and a half since that purchase, there is a good chance the company is worth less today. That is a far cry from the reported $100 million a year that it was earning at its peak.
Since Death Row Records is a private company, they do not have to disclose their assets or earnings, which makes it nearly impossible to calculate an exact value.
Changes in Ownership at Death Row Records
Death Row Records has a tumultuous history, thanks in part to its founder Suge Knight. The company was embroiled in major feuds between the East and West Coast rap scene, in addition to gang activity.
After years of turmoil, the company found itself under the ownership of several investment firms before getting into the hands of Snoop Dogg.
The Early Days
Suge Knight, Dick Griffey, the D.O.C., and Dr. Dre started Future Shock back in 1991. Suge Knight was friends with Dr. Dre and the D.O.C., who at the time wanted to leave N.W.A. because of salary and royalty disputes. The trio teamed up with Dick Griffey, who was a well-known producer and the owner of SOLAR Records. The company later signed a distribution deal with Interscope Records.
Around this time, they changed the name from Future Shock to Death Row Records. They also put the business under a parent company called Godfather Entertainment. The studio quickly began signing new talent like Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Eventually, Suge Knight pushed out the D.O.C. and Dick Griffey, leaving Dr. Dre as his only business partner.
Suge Knight as Sole Owner
After getting tired of the antics and drama of Suge Knight in 1996, Dr. Dre ultimately left to start Aftermath Entertainment. This left Suge Knight as the sole owner of the company. However, things would only get worse for him as he ended up in prison in 1997.
Surprisingly, Death Row Records managed to survive and even signed a number of new artists in the following years. But things came to a head in 2006 when they were forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Suge Knight lost control of the company as it was auctioned off.
The End of Death Row Records
WIDEawake Entertainment Group purchased the company’s assets in 2009 for $18 million. However, the investment company that lent the money to purchase Death Row Records pushed out Widawake’s CEO, Lara Levi. It later came out that the lender, New Solutions Financial, was operating a Ponzi scheme.
After that revelation, the company ended up in bankruptcy again in 2012. Entertainment One purchased the studio’s assets and back catalog for $6 million. Shockingly, the toy manufacturer, Hasbro, purchased Entertainment One in 2019 for $4 billion in order to get its vast movie catalog.
With Death Row Records under Hasbro’s ownership, it looked like the brand was dead. However, Hasbro sold Entertainment One’s music division in 2021 to the Blackstone Group for an estimated $385 million. After sitting under the ownership of the Blackstone Group for less than a year, an unexpected buyer emerged.
Just days before he was set to take the stage at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show, Snoop Dogg announced that he purchased Death Row Records from the Blackstone Group for an undisclosed amount. This put the record company in the hands of one of its original artists and someone who would revive the brand.
Death Row Records Allegations of Gang Violence
It is no secret that many of the company’s employees were involved in gang activity. Founder Suge Knight was most notably a member of the Mob Piru Bloods. There are many accusations that Suge Knight and Death Row Records were involved in the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. They were also allegedly involved in the murder of a young rapper named William Ratcliffe.
Besides murder accusations, there were many well-known incidents of threats toward competitors, including Eazy-E, whom Dr. Dre and the D.O.C. were in a contract with.
Keep in mind that most of the artists working for Death Row Records were not involved in this lifestyle, which is what prompted people like Dr. Dre to leave.
Popular Death Row Records Artists
- The D.O.C.
- Snoop Dogg
- Dr. Dre
- Tha Dogg Pound
- MC Hammer
What Happened to Suge Knight After Losing Death Row Records?
Suge Knight’s story does not have the happy ending that Death Row Records does. Suge Knight personally filed for bankruptcy at the same time as the record company. He ended up losing his Malibu home along with many possessions.
He also landed in prison several times, mostly due to violent outbursts. But in 2015, he was charged with voluntary manslaughter for a hit-and-run. Although he pled no contest, Suge Knight was subject to California’s three-strikes law. He was sentenced to 28 years in jail and is currently serving his sentence in San Diego, CA.
What is Going on Today at Death Row Records
With Snoop Dogg at the helm, Death Row Records is back to releasing new music. The studio recently released Snoop Dogg’s own B.O.D.R. album. It also released albums by October London and Jane Handcock in early 2023. In addition to music, the company sells NFTs and memorabilia, such as hats and shirts.
Death Row Records was a force to be reckoned with throughout the 1990s. They controlled some of the biggest names in hip-hop and dominated the rap industry in Southern California. Despite numerous controversies, the company still lives on today, and fans can’t wait to see what Snoop Dogg has planned next.
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