Welcome to Death Row (2001) Movie Script

(dramatic music)
(opera music)
- We're on location tonight
in the NWA Ruthless Studios
here to talk to NWA and Eazy E,
probably the most controversial
rap group in Los Angeles.
- At that time,
all the rappers were
claiming their home towns.
South Bronx, you know,
wherever they may be,
New York, Queens,
whatever the case may be.
We were from Compton!
- Coming up in the ghetto,
period, builds character to me.
You know what I'm saying?
It definitely can build character
if you use it in a positive way.
- We're seeing regular
homies from the neighborhood
that was just putting
down real street raps.
It made us feel like we could do it.
- Something really special was coming
out of that neighborhood.
It was a fresh, really
volatile time in music.
I liken it to Elvis Presley
when rock and roll started
to when the Beatles came.
It was something really
special coming out of there.
- After a while, Michael
Jackson didn't work.
People didn't believe the hype.
We didn't care. We didn't care.
They didn't feel it
with all the trying to be shy nonsense.
People ain't checking for that no more.
Rap made it gritty.
- I think we're successful
because we tell it like it is
and that's what people wanna hear
because they're sick of
hearing about fairy tales
and stuff like that.
- NWA to me was like
- They was bringing South
Central to the forefront
and what was happening,
and drugs, and the whole shine.
They was fitting another
element of society
that nobody else had touched on.
- They talked about being gangsters.
Gangsta Gangsta was a big hit.
Fuck Tha Police was a big hit.
- It's not what you know,
it's what you can prove.
- When I went and got NWA albums,
I bought them as a fan.
- You'd just see an
all-star cast of people.
Eazy being the mastermind,
Cube being the rhyme writer,
Dre laying down the tracks, the producer,
and then you have Ren who
played supporting cast.
And that just made up one of the
great groups of hip-hop.
- We don't tell you what to do
and won't tell you what not to do.
You got your own freedom of choice.
- [Doug] Eazy represented, you know,
the hardcore little
gangster on the corner.
- They try to hold us back because
this record has cursing on it.
Said something, oh you
talking about raping somebody
and everything.
- People were selling cocaine,
making a lot of money,
and he was the first person
that actually came out
and admitted it and boasted about it
on a record.
- That's bullshit.
- Eazy E turned out to
have some business savvy.
- Eazy was a local crack slinger.
Made him some money,
and because I was one
of the few guys he knew
in the studio,
he wanted to get with me
and get in the studio.
He was not intended to be a rapper.
He was gonna be a financier.
Dre was producing for Alonzo
of Kru-Cut Records
and the Wreckin' Crew.
Dre started getting in the trouble.
He was going to jail for
warrants on a regular basis.
I'm digging in my pocket to get him out.
So I got to the point
when I got tired of it,
and Alzono didn't get him out of jail.
Eazy got him out of jail.
When Eric got him out
of jail, they cut a deal
that Dre would do some
tracks for Eric in my studio.
And they hooked up and
was boys ever since then.
- [Eazy] You put the dot on your target
and then blow the shit
out the motherfucker.
No joke.
- Eazy knew it was like a joke to him.
It was like (makes giggling noises),
but he got so far into it, it was like,
okay, I am this.
I'm walking to the Carson Mall,
I look up in the HQ which
is a sporting goods store
and a gun store,
and these guys are being
semi-automatic weapons
to go on tour with!
I'm like, shit!
What kind of tour are you guys going on?
Vietnam or what?
- They were selling out the back of cars
and they were making money
and they were going to the
top one way or another.
- We used to ride around
in Eazy's jeep all day
and sell records to what they
call swap meets out here.
I used to make people buy records.
- [Man] How'd you make them buy it?
- With a gun.
- Eazy paid Lonzo to introduce him
to Jerry Heller.
- Jerry Heller was basically
Dr. Dre and Eric Wright's
manager and label head.
- Ruthless started from Eazy-E.
Eazy-E knew that Dre was a dope producer.
He did the Straight Outta Compton album.
He did Eazy Does It.
He did Michel'le's album.
He did the DOC's album.
- Dr. Dre was one of
these guys that could take
this raw street sound,
and turn it into the kind of magic
that would hit a wide audience of kids.
- They had a method
that clearly was heard and felt
by young people.
- All over the country, they
had pockets of young brothers
who sold dope and had to
carry nine millimeter pistols,
who had a wad of money that could relate.
- Every kid wants something
that's sort of forbidden.
Certainly this type of imagery was.
In fact, they couldn't even hear it
on their regular radio station.
- They sold over 1,000,000 albums.
And we have to understand
that with rap music,
past 500,000, 600,000 albums,
you go outside the black community.
- They had little while kids out there
that grew up in pop's country club.
They wasn't having it.
They wanted to hear NWA.
- It became clear that there weren't just
10,000 kids listening to this.
There was hundreds of
thousands in each city.
- People sat back and seeing an album
that sold 1,000,000 units.
It never played on radio.
And I had to question myself,
how does this happen?
How did this happen?
What went on here?
- Now, when it starts making real money,
and it starts looking like some success
is gonna come about,
that's when the shit starts.
Eazy and Jerry wasn't paying
Dr. Dre enough money.
- At that time, I was owed money
but they wasn't paying it.
You know what I'm saying?
I think they were trying to starve me out.
As hard as you work for your money,
there's at least two or
three people out there
working just as hard to get it from you.
- I was there when Dre told me
he would sell his soul to the
devil for 1,000,000 bucks.
And I swear right now,
devil gotta have a receipt for his ass.
- Suge Knight was always around.
He was around in the days of NWA.
I just never noticed who he was.
- Suge was just a big kid.
He was really, at that time,
totally nobody.
- Suge Knight was a body guard,
body guarding Bobby Brown.
- Being a body guard
is probably one of the
best music schools, music industry schools
that you could go to,
because you're gonna learn everything
about the business.
- I was out there looking and learning.
And I seen the different people complain.
I seen artists.
I seen people trying to be artists.
I seen people talk about songs,
and I'm just listening.
I'm hearing it all.
- He was an aggressive person
that cleared the way for me to go in
and do what I had to do.
You know, by any means necessary.
- Suge was a leader and he was a winner.
He's smart.
He kinda remind me of a
a hip-hop Dick Griffey.
- In the 1980s, Solar was probably
the most successful
black-owned record label
in America.
Dick Griffey, who was the
founder of the company,
was one of those men.
He had the rare ability, I think,
to identify talent in people.
- What I'm interested in is,
is really,
teaching young people how to
be in business for themselves.
- Suge first came to see
Dick because he was managing
a young guy named Mario Johnson,
PK Chocolate,
who had written a number of
songs on a Vanilla Ice album.
- I did all of his songs at
his kitchen table at his house.
Me and Quake would do tracks and
I would go to his house and write
and give him songs,
and he would learn them.
- He had got some credit on the album,
but they hadn't paid him.
They wouldn't return his phonecalls.
- I couldn't get in contact with them,
but the record wasn't doing
anything at that time,
and when the video hit
BET is when the record
start taking off.
- The thing happened so fast
and it blew up so quick,
the first thing they wanted to do
is tell me look, we'll
give you a couple dollars.
You know, let bygones be bygones.
I was like, I wasn't going for it.
- Suge came to me at the Palm restaurant.
First, he just had down and said hello.
He was kinda nice, you know.
It kinda scared us 'cause
he was really intimidating.
He had six or seven guys with him
that looked like a football team.
- We already knew where he was staying
because I was supposed
to be hearing some tracks
that he was doing,
but for some reason,
they wanted me to just come by myself.
You know what I'm saying?
And Suge was like, why
they just want you to go
by yourself?
They already tried to
beat you out of money.
They done beat you out of songs.
I'm going with you.
- They whole attitude probably was look,
we was gon' go in there and tell them,
we gon' do it like this
and give him a check,
and he gon' shut up.
I had a different program when we met.
- One day I went to my hotel
room and he was in there,
and he was with several people.
Then he let me know what he wanted,
and he wanted to get some
points off of the record
Ice Ice Baby.
- I'm like, look,
you can't give me nothing.
It's what I'ma give you
because you didn't get the rights
to put it out there
because I haven't got paid
and my client haven't got paid.
- I remember watching Prime Time Live,
the interview with Vanilla Ice.
- Suge took me out on the balcony,
started talking to me personally.
He had me look over the edge,
show me how high I was up there.
- [Suge] You scared?
- I needed to wear a diaper on that day.
He didn't, first of all, hang me off
from any balcony or any of this stuff.
The story's been blown out of proportion,
and I wanna clarify right now that
Suge and I have no bad
feelings or anything
towards each other.
- We had to sue
BMI and Winkle
to recover that money.
- And it was more than
a year in the settlement
of that law suit,
that Chocolate finally got paid.
Doesn't mean he didn't
get hung over the balcony.
But if he did, it didn't make him go pay.
- You can look at it like,
like I was an investor
in Death Row Records
with no return on my money.
- Suge said, well, you know,
I've got some other clients
who also have written songs
and produced records, and
they haven't been paid either.
- He shows up on my doorstep
with these two guys called DOC and Dre.
DOC was the storyteller.
The D-O-C was the guy
that came up with those great stories.
He was probably the single
most influential person
in gangsta rap.
- Dre basically made Ruthless Records.
I mean, he did the music,
he was the one who
knew how to work with the artists,
and it must've been him and
Eazy's company together.
And then when Eazy met Jerry,
Jerry came in and x'd Dre out,
and said Eric, I'll give
you a little bit more money.
We'll just use Dre basically as a slave.
- They had the worst
contracts I've ever seen
in the history of the record business.
Contracts that Ruthless and Jerry Heller
had with NWA and Dre,
I guess if I said draconian,
that would be a kind word.
- In the process of having
a number of conversations
with DOC and Dre,
the question came up about
how can we be assured
that we're gonna get paid
in the future?
Dick said look, Dre,
if you can make records
the way you make records,
I'll show you how to start a company.
You won't have to worry
about people paying you.
You'll have a company
that you own and control.
I suggested that,
why don't you guys go and talk to Eazy
and see if you can make a deal
while Dre continues to
produce Eazy for Ruthless.
He continues to produce
NWA and the other acts.
- I was consulting for Ruthless for Eazy-E
working through Jerry Heller.
One day, Dre came with Suge
to my office in Hollywood
and simply said they had left Ruthless,
were starting their own company
called Death Row Records.
- It didn't go down the
way it was supposed to,
and so Eazy had to be persuaded
to make some moves and make things happen.
According to court
papers, Suge and friends
basically came in and
told Eric and Jerry Heller
Dre was leaving and
they couldn't stop him,
and that this was not just
legal, it was physical.
It was personal.
The stories that Eric told
was that they came in with baseball bats,
threatened gun--
- And the threat of his life
in telling him that he would
kill his mother and they
were holding me hostage.
And those kinds of duress
got him to sign releases for Dr. Dre.
- I wasn't there.
I wasn't in the room,
but when Eazy-E said in the papers
that me and the chairman
of Sony, Tommy Mottola,
was in the room with bats and pipes,
he's obviously a liar.
- There's no question that we
have substantial documentary
evidence of the conspiracy here.
- Eric Wright, Eazy-E filed
a RICO lawsuit against them.
It was the first time RICO had been used
in the music business.
RICO's a racketeering lawsuit.
It's the thing that they use to
get the mafia,
and they can't get the mafia
leaders on anything else.
- Eazy-E's lawsuit
contended that there was
money laundering, extortion, threats,
and violent intimidation.
Not only was it charged
against Suge and Death Row
for stealing what was their
top producer, Dr. Dre,
it was a charge against Sony Music.
From day one, this label was
born amidst a controversy
that involved violence.
- The initial understanding was that
DOC and Dre and Dick and Suge
would be partners in this company.
- Each one of our artists
that started with us at the beginning,
I got a lot of love for and they always
will be a part of the family,
on the strength that
they took that chance.
It's not like that, it's,
we had a name out there.
It's not like we had a
lot of money to give them.
The money I gave came out my pocket.
- Back then, Suge was like
Berry behind the scenes
and helpful and quiet.
Humble, non-visible.
He didn't like cameras.
He was invisible.
The invisible man.
- His role was to handle
the day to day business
dealing with the artists,
dealing with distributors
and record companies
and what have you.
My job was to go in here
and push these buttons
and make the records happen.
- Everybody was following Dre,
because people knew that Dre was the man.
Like, everything that he touched was like,
gold or platinum or better.
- That's why everyone
wanted to work with him.
He was actually the most
bankable person at that time
pretty much in the industry,
from the R&B/rap standpoint.
- Everybody was taking direction from Dre
as far as he knows what he's doing.
He's just finished doing NWA album
that's double and triple platinum, so
you have to have
confidence in what you see.
You watch this man make money.
- Warren G was my best friend
and Nate Dogg was my best friend.
So we formed 8213 and
Warren G was a DJ,
I was a rapper,
and Nate Dogg would sing the hooks.
We didn't have drums machines back then.
All we had was wreckers and turntables
and a microphone.
When Warren G called me
on the three-way like,
Snoop, I got Dre on the phone, cuz.
He liked the tape.
He wanna work with us, cuz.
He wanna work with us.
Like, nigga, stop lying.
And he said, hello.
I said, who this?
He said it's Dre.
He said man, that shit was dope, man.
I wanna get with you.
Come to the studio Monday.
- At that time, it was a dream just to be
in the same room with Dr. Dre, you know?
Dr. Dre wants us to come
to the studio where he is.
I'd jog up there if I didn't have a car.
- I wanted to appreciate the game
and to accept everything
that was offered to me
and learn,
and just be a student at the time.
- They were housed in my building,
so they didn't have a lot of expenses.
You have to understand
that the greatest expense
in making a record is the studio time.
I didn't have a lot of
knowledge about the rap
or hip-hop scenario, so
I kinda let them
do their own thing.
- Some nights we used to
stay up there all night.
We didn't leave until like
five, six in the morning.
I mean, they had a special vibe up there.
You just wanted to be there.
Even if you wasn't working on a song,
you just wanted to be there
because it had that atmosphere.
It was just was the spot to be at.
It was right in the
middle of Hollywood and,
you know, it was just
a place to be for us.
And we was young, and we
never really had been
out of the neighborhood.
And was getting a chance to see it all
in bright lights.
And this was the same studio that
Shalamar, Lakeside, The Whispers,
Babyface, The Deal.
All of them recorded their
albums in this same studio.
- On a business level and
on a day to day basis,
it was merely existing.
Seemed like they were
trying to find somebody to
put some money into it,
or somebody to help them out.
- Money was hard to come by back then,
because it wasn't no structure.
It was not label.
Suge Knight did all he
could do at the time,
as far as you know, going in his pocket,
his bank account, to get us money.
Dre didn't really have no money.
He was leaving NWA.
(piano playing)
(hip-hop music)
- Dick had made a deal with
Suge, DOC, and Dre
to sell him a recording
studio that he owned.
That was gonna be something
that they would own
separate from the Death Row label
because they wanted to have
something that they own.
Suge came along and said
he had found somebody
to help them finance the
purchase of the studio.
- It's always been a
subjecting speculation
where they got their original funding.
And the FBI's continuing
to look into this.
- There are so many things you hear about
this situation.
I tell you this,
Mike Harris
was firmly planted in the middle of it.
- On the news, they used
to call Mike the Godfather.
- Tonight, the story of a man who tried to
murder his best friend
at the same time he was
attempting to win his way
into Beverley Hills' acceptance.
- [Voiceover] This is Michael Harris,
a man drug agents describe as a
major cocaine trafficker.
At the young age of 26,
he had already made millions of dollars.
These are his roots,
the streets of South Central, Los Angeles,
where he started pushing
dope on street corners,
and hung with the blood street gang called
the Bounty Hunters.
In the drug world,
he is known as Harry-O.
- Mike Harris was a known
entity in our community.
He was this guy bigger than life,
because Mike Harris was in jail
doing things.
- Prior to his incarceration,
he was very visible.
He had started doing numerous things
in the community.
- [Voiceover] Harris built an organization
that distributed cocaine
in California, Arizona,
Texas, Michigan, Illinois,
Iowa, Indiana, Missouri,
Louisiana, Florida, and New York.
Investigators say he
dealt so much cocaine,
major Colombian drug
kingpins like Mario Villabona
were obliged to deal directly with Harris.
But like a mob godfather,
Harris sought to legitimize
his illicit fortune
and gain Beverley Hills' respectability.
- Mike Harris
had a wonderful background
in entertainment.
I think he was the first
African-American ever
to produce a broadway
show that was a smash
and it gave Denzel Washington his start.
- Checkmate was the name of the play.
The play opened on Broadway.
Many of us African-Americans have
been on Broadway, on the screen,
out front singing and dancing,
but very few of us had
been there as producers.
- I thought he was an
entrepreneur in New York.
Had no idea that he was in jail.
- The first time I met Michael,
it was a drug case involving
Bo Bennett, Mario Villabona.
That trial went and resulted
in a number of convictions
that went to trial in a federal court,
and after that case, Michael, I believe
contacted David Kenner to have him
represent him on his appeal.
- David Kenner was a long-time Los Angeles
criminal attorney,
and by the late 80s, he had become
part of a fraternity
of top flight attorneys
that handled a lot of federal cases.
A lot of big drug cases downtown.
In the course of his legal work,
he became Michael Harris' attorney.
I think if you look at
clients of his over time,
David has a habit of
getting very close to his clients
and getting very involved
in his clients' lives.
Perhaps more so than would
be wise for a lawyer.
- David just, you now,
fell in love with Michael.
And they became friends.
He was a friend to us.
I looked at him like family.
I was out in LA by myself,
and he took me in, you know.
Him and his family, we'd go out to eat.
I mean, we would like,
do everything together.
- He became someone who was a confidant,
a friend of Michael Harris' and also
involved in business with Michael Harris.
- I think that he's a lawyer
who had a lot of money
and he represented people
who had a lot of money
and it would not be unusual to me
for somebody who represented
people with money to say,
I wanna invest.
Everybody wants to be
in the music business,
and the years that I've
worked, I've gotten
tapes and offers from
everyone from politicians,
to businessmen who wanna be
in the entertainment business.
- They started talking.
Mike said you got Dr.
Dre, and Suge said yeah,
he a producer.
Mike said, well, we need to meet.
And Suge said well, I
got a couple of cases.
I can't get in to visit you.
So Mike said no, I got this attorney.
He's bad. He can get you in here.
- David Kenner brought Suge Knight
to see Michael at the
Metropolitan Detention Center
in Downtown, Los Angeles.
They set down their
basic business plan that
they would start a company
called Godfather Entertainment,
and one division of it
would be Death Row Records.
- One day,
I see these two people walk in a building
who I'd never seen before,
and one was David Kenner,
and the other was Lydia Harris.
- In the summer of 1991,
Kenner started coming around.
There was a lot of buzz
about this company,
a lot of expectations that it could be
a successful company,
and David was one of the
people around at the time
making a play to be Suge's partner
and to take care of business for Suge,
to handle business for Suge.
- Couple days after Mrs. Harris
and David Kenner came in,
things actually changed drastically.
Immediately, the studio gets carpeted,
things start getting fixed.
I'm starting to get presented with money
to find apartments for the artists that
didn't have any apartments,
didn't have any money.
I'm also given allowance for them.
- I saw a few little
upgrades in the studio.
Some chairs, some speakers.
- And I was also told we'll
be getting collect calls
and to accept them, and
to find Suge where he was
and connect them.
- We were assigned by them to
build an awareness for
Godfather Entertainment,
and to kick off their first vehicle,
which is Death Row
Records to the industry.
- Norman Winter and his infinite wisdom
said let's take the boys
into Beverley Hills.
Let's stick it in everybody's face.
So, off to Chasen's.
- [MC] Let me see you
put your hands together
and say, oh yeah!
- [Crowd] Oh yeah!
- [MC] Let me see somebody get Dre, Suge,
DOC a round of applause.
Death Row Records is gonna
be the record company
of the 2000s.
- We was thinking about
putting in melody tactics
at the entrance.
- Everyone gets served with subpoenas
as an invitation.
- "You are hereby ordered to appear before
"the honorable Dr. Dre and the officers
"of GF Entertainment,
"as a guest of the court
to witness the springing
"of Death Row records."
- Put your hands together.
Come on, y'all, make some noise.
- We invited virtually
every major record company
executive in Los Angeles and New York,
and it was so big that
we originally planned
on spending around $20, $25,000.
It turned out to be 35 or 50.
- They had enough money
at the time behind them
and for somebody to come out of nowhere
to have a party at
Chasen's on Grammy night
which is reserved generally for
all the white people.
It's also a place that
would never be associated with rap music
in anyway unless it
was simply co-sponsored
by a white group.
- The mark we're going after,
we're mainly for the people.
I mean, for us the West Coast
has a lot of talent around
that guys, we don't have the opportunity,
don't have the chance to prove theirself.
So of course, GF Entertainment goes
with the studio and the films,
we giving all the
youngsters an opportunity
from all the neighborhoods.
Basically, we haven't
forgotten where we came from.
- I personally interviewed
all of the players that were there.
- GF Entertainment is a
multimedia company.
We have Death Row Records.
We have a movie production unit,
We're gonna be doing
pay-per-view concerts,
and all kinds of exciting things.
- In the beginning,
they was giving Mike his props,
and they was recognizing
that there was another
entity that helped this
be one major powwow.
- When it came to David Kenner,
he toasted the man who
made it all responsible,
- The label started with
Dr. Dre, who was gonna
do his own thing,
and with a lot of help from Suge Knight
and Harry-O and a number of people,
we got it all together.
- And that's on tape, and the
FBI confiscated that from me
under very rude circumstances.
- When Death Row was in the soul offices,
we pretty much gave over to the one floor.
There were a lot of young,
folks hanging out, but
it wasn't what it become.
- Unfortunately,
there was a lot of tension.
An element showed up that
my people were not accustomed to.
Dre had invited these guys over
to the studio.
When Suge came,
these guys were using the phone.
So he told them, hey
man, get off the phone.
the guy said to Suge,
hey man, we were invited up here by Dre.
Dre told us that we could use this phone.
An argument ensued.
Suge went down to the car
and got a gun.
And hey,
beat these guys up in the studio.
He shot through the wall to scare them.
The hole is in the wall over there.
The cops came and dug the bullet out.
- [Voiceover] George and Lynwood
Stanley later sued Knight.
He agreed on a $1,000,000 settlement,
but only paid a third of it.
- Deep Cover.
- Deep Cover.
- Deep Cover was a critical success.
- It was the introduction
of Dre as a solo artist.
("Deep Cover" by Dr. Dre)
It was the introduction of Dre
as a mentor to other artists.
In this case, Snoop Doggy Dogg.
- By Snoop blowing up on Deep Cover,
I looked at that like
we were all blowing up,
'cause I always knew we did music together
and I always had confidence in our music
that it would sell, and that
it would sell worldwide.
And after the way it blew up with Snoop,
it pumped me up like, man,
I can't wait 'til it's my turn,
'cause they really do love what we doing.
- That single was so significant,
because it shows these
two different worlds
that Dre was leaving,
and where he's going to.
- Dr. Dre wanted to make a statement
that he was a solo artist,
that he was a good artist on his own,
and a good producer.
The thing back then was,
we gon' try to come up.
That's all Dre used to
talk about was coming up,
coming up.
And The Chronic was what
was supposed to set it off.
- What I'm doing right now
I'll be putting out a solo album soon.
- Everybody put their all
into The Chronic album
because we seen that, not only was this
gonna build the record
company that we want
because this was the first
album off the record company
we want.
This will build all of our careers.
- When we vibe, it's
straight whatever Dre want.
It's Dre. Dre, whatever you want.
You want this concept, Dre?
You want this? You want this?
It's all about Dre.
It's all about Compton and Dre.
Dre, Dre, Dre.
- You had Snoop Dogg, who
just brought a whole
nother style to rap music.
- He has a voice where he
could rap over beats and just
rip a beat to pieces.
- A lot of that shit was
on the spot, spontaneous.
Right there.
We just putting the
weed together like this,
breaking it down,
put it in a zig-zag.
Once we twist that shit up and blaze,
if it's a crime, we gon keep it in this...
On the low down,
motherfucking throw it out
and come with some new shit.
- First of all, you had
so many hungry, starving individuals
that wanted to be superstars
who put they talent together, and
it came out to be a classic.
- The camaraderie in them
early days over there, man.
All them cats used to
show up to the studio...
- They were poor as hell,
but they still were a family.
They still had fun.
- [Dre] Yeah!
Chronic, baby!
- So, it wasn't like
we had money to hang with our
friends or anything like that,
so we just hung together.
And we created a masterpiece.
- Check it out!
- I think it was a lot of
collaboration on The Chronic album
as far as names like Daz, Kurupt,
Snoop, Warren G,
DOC, RBX and myself,
Rage, Jewell.
- We were all starvin'.
All starvin'.
Dre included.
We'll be up there eating Popeye's chicken
five days a week.
- I gotta go warm the joint.
We had weed, the best weed.
That's why we made The Chronic
because we had the chronic.
- I mean, sometimes we was just in there
drinking or elevating our
minds to another level.
Dre'll be like,
working with the beats at the time
and he'll come up with something,
and depending on who was in the studio
at that particular time.
- It was people waiting all
over the world for that album,
for Dre's album to drop.
- The Chronic was finished.
We had originally thought
we were gonna be able
to distribute the record with Sony.
- This would've been the
first time in history
that young guys
would've actually had the opportunity
to have a distribution deal,
what they call a P&D deal,
through a major and get all the money.
- Sony refused to distribute The Chronic.
- Sony, because of their fearfulness of
some of the crazy things
going on around Death Row
and their wariness of the
contractual status of Dr. Dre,
didn't wanna get that deal done.
- Part of their fears in
dealing with rap bands is that
some of these gangsta
rappers might turn out
to be real gangsters.
Indeed, many of them are.
Any number of these guys
go to jail every year.
It's like the first thing that, you know,
they go platinum and then they go to jail.
- Dick and I then
negotiated a deal with BMG
to put out the record.
They heard the lyrics, and they said,
we're not gonna put the record out.
Everybody got afraid of putting out
any kind of rap records
with explicit lyrics
that talked about killing cops and stuff.
- It wasn't nobody out there with us.
It was a time when we shopping a deal,
we had an album done.
- John McClane, Jr. came along.
When he heard the record, he went crazy.
He said, Griff, Griff,
you gotta give me this.
You gotta give me this record.
- John said, I love the record,
why don't you let me
take it to Interscope?
- An opportunity appeared
for a young aggressive label
to distribute Death Row,
and two established industry
people to deal with,
Jimmy Iovine, who was a superstar
producer of rock records,
and Ted Fields who had
been a movie producer
and produced some hit music.
They had some rather
controversial acts of their own.
In rock, Nine Inch Nails.
They signed Tupac Shakur,
the other hottest rapper in the business.
- Interscope was out of business.
They were getting ready
to close the doors.
Warners, Atlantic was dropping a deal
and Ted Fields was tired of
pouring his personal money in there.
So, here comes Dick Griffey
with The Chronic.
- Dick and I went and
met with Jimmy Iovine
and we met with David Cohen,
and we played them The Chronic
and they said they were
interested in making a deal.
- So, these guys
told me, said, look, Dick,
we're gonna advance you $200,000.
- Well, the mean time,
what was going on is
there was no more money.
There was no cash flow.
- Friday, no money. Saturday, no money.
Sunday, no money. Monday, no money.
they advanced $100,000
for which we had to sign as a loan.
By Wednesday, Suge and Dre
were up and Interscope.
Jimmy Iovine got a hold of Dre.
Said, see, Dre?
They doing it to you again, Dre.
These guys are taking advantage of you.
- They then got in touch
directly with Suge and said,
you know, Griffey was here.
He won't make us a deal,
but you give us a record,
we'll give you $1,000,000.
The man, once again,
had done the old divide and conquer.
- There's really a lot of
prejudice in the business,
and people think it's
so much black and white,
but a lot of it is young and old.
- Most of our young people
don't really know what's
available for them out there,
so that's how they
get taken advantage of.
- Older guys, only thing they wanna do
is sit you down and say, look,
okay, Suge, you say you're
a young entrepreneur,
this what we gon' do.
Give me all the stuff you got.
Give me your tapes, give me your masters,
give me your groups,
and I'ma go over there
and make you a deal.
- Suge didn't know contracts.
He didn't know manufacturing.
He didn't know publishing.
- But you know, my opinion was look,
I ain't no punk.
You don't gotta talk for us.
We gon' go in there and
speak for ourselves.
Instead of getting a dollar, we want five.
And our masters, and our own shit.
- What they ended up with,
is going over the Interscope
and getting one of those
regular slave deals.
They took the kids away
from the nest too soon.
- Interscope clearly saw the money.
And this is the record business.
And I think they were
smart enough to see that
whoever this guy Suge Knight was,
and knowing the track
record of this producer,
Dr. Dre, and
you had the legal mind
of Dave Kenner there,
they've got all tools in place.
Everything that we need is right here.
We don't really have to do anything.
All we have to do is fund
these guys and do what we do,
which is promote records, market records,
and advertise records.
- Jimmy Iovine had to go
pay off Ruthless, Eazy, Jerry Heller,
and have The Chronic distributed through
Priority Records.
- Eazy was getting on Dre's Chronic record
like 50 cents a copy, maybe 25 cents.
Then he had Dre Day.
He talking shit about me,
but every time Dre Day sell a record,
I get 25 cent a copy.
- After they signed the agreement,
I think they realized
they needed to leave,
and they did.
All of a sudden, they disappeared.
- Suge cut off all ties
with the people he was
dealing with in the beginning,
and we got a whole new
office and a whole new crew.
- That really became kind of
the rupture in the relationship
between Dick and Suge
and DOC and Dre.
The Chronic goes out and sells
5,000,000 copies,
generates $50 million,
and saved Interscope,
made Interscope.
- We invented something
that wasn't out there.
So it was fresh, and everybody wanted it.
From the East Coast to
the West Coast, period.
- [Doug] You couldn't turn on
MTV without seeing Dr. Dre.
- First time I performed
songs for The Chronic
was with Dr. Dre,
and we did like,
a small, little concert in Compton.
Man, motherfuckers were singing
every word of the songs.
It made me feel like, damn,
this is my life right here.
- To me, it wasn't like, okay,
Dre is advocating everybody smoking weed.
He wasn't saying that.
He was saying, my album is dope.
Do you understand what I'm saying?
My album is dope. Buy it.
- It was a good record.
I know a lot of cats is pissed
off behind those records
right now, 'cause they say
they haven't been paid,
or they didn't get credit for it.
I liked it.
I mean, it was out...
I was surprised by it.
I was happy with it.
In fact, I still play
it from time to time.
I don't like listening to
his voice on this shit,
but I still listen to it.
- If you understand what
was going on in the street
at that time or even now,
word of mouth is everything,
and Death Row became
really hip on the street.
Every young, black entertainer
wanted to be a part of it.
So there was no problem
in finding talent at all.
There was an understanding
at Death Row that
they weren't getting
at the major companies.
- One of the things
about these major labels,
they'll never understand street music.
They'll never understand stuff that starts
right there in the neighborhoods.
They'll never understand it.
Never will, never will, never will.
That's why you'll always
have some young entrepreneurs
who will come along,
who really understand how to do that,
and make a killing.
- No matter how they is.
If you see me out somewhere,
I don't care who he is.
I'm finna come over there,
hear your hook, talk
to you, how you doing?
Whatever, you ain't gotta speak to me,
I ain't gon' do no, let's do lunch.
I ain't with all that (laughs).
I be like wassup, I'm
still from the ghetto.
- It was a very, very good time for young
kids looking for a break.
There was an opportunity there.
There were people that understood them,
understood what they were about.
Kids just come in and run
auditions right off the street.
- Basically the same thing Motown did.
They took the mindset,
the spirit, the dreams,
the hopes and wishes and thoughts
of the people of the time period,
and they set it to music.
- If anybody would really
stop for a moment to analyse
what really happened at Death Row, it's
really a miracle.
You have a company, a small company,
run by a young, black entrepreneur,
and he releases five or six LPs
and all of them went, at least, I think,
double platinum.
Now, it's a known fact that our industry,
if you're working for a major
and your release 10 LPs,
and you have three to four
hit records out of the
ten that you release,
you're considered a genius.
- I think the most important
thing in my situation
is that I wasn't coached.
I think if a person's
coached about the business,
they're gonna continue
to make the same mistakes
the other entrepreneurs
were making all along.
- The appeal of Death
Row and everybody wanting
to join Death Row Records at the time,
was the fact that Suge Knight was a
black man with a lot of power,
and he was a fearsome individual.
That's the type of person
you want on your team.
- Suge Knight is an
intimidating individual.
When he enters the room, you notice him.
You can't help it.
I think that he would be
considered a handsome man,
huge man.
- Suge's tremendous size
intimidated people.
When you got a 300-pound guy
saying something,
it means a lot more than if you had
Mickey Rooney saying it.
Suge was bright enough to use his size,
much like Don King uses his hair.
- The hype got so big that
everybody started fearing it.
- I have friends here at Sony
and one of them calls and said,
gee, you know, we really
wanna get a track.
You do me a favor and
can you go talk to Suge?
I say, I'll go talk to him.
And so I went over to see Suge.
I said Suge, what is it you doing?
You got people out here
that are afraid to talk to you.
Suge became somewhat like a
folk hero after a while.
These stories that's
developed a life of their own.
You got Suge doing everything from
throwing people off of
a 30-storey building
to putting rocks and
beers in them, cement.
- They put bad names on people
and tried to drag their name through dirt.
But now, as the individual,
you got to do what you
got to do to get paid.
- He was a very brilliant businessman.
Whatever his tactics might have been,
whoever he had to step on to get there,
his main objective was to just get there
at any cost.
- There's a genius
which is a part of him,
and you know what they say about geniuses.
They aren't far from being insane.
- Suge Knight pretty much blew his cover
by appearing on the cover of magazines,
because now you're no longer
a figure behind the scenes.
Now, you're a celebrity.
You're making yourself a celebrity.
- When Snoop's album comes out,
this is the most anticipated
rap album in history.
- Doggystyle was,
we're through with The Chronic.
It's all about you, Snoop.
You're the hottest thing
coming out the West Coast
in a long time,
and Dre gon' produce it.
And when Dre produce an
album from top to bottom,
you can't lose.
- [Voiceover] Tell us
what we should expect
on the new album.
- Gangsta shit.
You know what I'm saying.
Smooth gangsta shit.
- We're here at Tower
Records in Marina del Rey
where this is really this
hottest album on the shelves
right now.
- [Voiceover] Since the
album was released a midnight
last night at this store,
they've already sold 130 CDs
and about 100 cassettes.
It could be the hottest album ever.
Get it before it's gone.
- Nobody had ever, in the modern era,
had their very first album go number one.
A triple platinum album is $30 million
to the record label.
It's more than $45 million
on the retail level.
Death Row became the core of Interscope
which became the core of Warner Bros'
music money-making machine.
- After the Snoop album came out,
it was all gravy,
'cause man, Death Row
was flying high then.
It was just so much money
floating around Death Row
for anything.
I remember I used to keep
thousands, I used to run through thousands
of dollars a day.
They're making $100 million a year.
They can buy anything they want.
They can buy anybody they want.
That made it all very,
very serious business.
- Rappers didn't give
gangsta rap its name.
The music industry gave
gangsta rap its name.
They said, this music has cussing in it.
They're calling women bitches,
so that's gangsta rap because
it comes from the gangs and the gangsters.
- Gangsta rap isn't
something that was just born
and invented in a quote, unquote ghetto.
It's something that you see
on the American movies.
The blowification of Al Capone
and Lucky Luciano,
and that's kind of glamorous
in any American's eyes,
I think.
- It really puts the truth of society
out in front of America,
and America, not used to that,
is obviously gonna be shocked about it.
- Suppose they just started
rapping about the 6:00 news?
Would it be gangsta rap?
- Gangsta rap is like the movies, too.
Drama sells.
- I take it for what it is.
It's a record. It's a CD.
It's a tape, you know.
And I'm not gonna live my life by it,
and other people shouldn't either.
It's entertainment.
- No black man should get
on the front of a magazine
with a 12-inch cigar in
front of two Rolls Royces,
wearing what could be
considered gang colors
in America.
That sends a bad message.
That's negative.
- Publicity when it was negative
played a role also,
because it was part of this role
that Suge Knight had
chosen for the company.
I mean, these kids were not gangsters,
quote, real gangsters.
Many people that were
not, as a matter of fact,
gang members like it has been
portrayed in the press,
there were people around that were.
- When you got brothers that, you know,
perpetrating gang violence
or gang affiliation, making it cool,
it's a problem.
That could be a problem.
- It wasn't just Death Row
perpetuating the violence.
I think it was the media.
I mean, let's face it.
The coverage was just awesome.
All of a sudden, Death Row and gangsta rap
was the reason that every
youngster in America
was going bad.
- [Crowd] No gangsta rap!
- Lyrics that promote
rape, murder, racism,
drug abuse, and violence...
- Die. Die.
Die, pig. Die.
- Time Warner's Music Division
promotes music that celebrates the rape,
torture, and murder of women.
- C. Delores Tucker is
a political activist
that embodies herself in matters of
African-American decency questions.
In the beginning, we was
trying to protect America
from the threat of gangsta rap.
- You will see words that
you can't even repeat
in a locker room.
- But by that point,
the cat was out of the bag,
and there's very little
that she could've done.
- Doggy style.
Do it from the back.
- She involved herself
in Time Warner politics
along with a odd political
bedfellow for her,
who was William Bennett.
- The moral obtuseness of Time Warner,
we do not understand
why they don't get it.
- These are right-wing conservatives.
Both of them.
They are would-be sensors.
Both were attacking Time Warner
along with Dole.
- A line has been crossed.
Not just of taste,
but of human dignity and decency.
- Now you've got a presidential candidate
accusing Time Warner of debasing a nation,
for handing Death Row product.
- The mainstreaming of
deviancy must come to an end.
- Now, I think we do have problems
with the social fabric of
this country right now.
I do have trouble believing
that it is caused by
song lyrics or movies.
- Time Warner was also doing Ice T.
They got T off the label,
but they were stuck with Death Row
and the numbers were huge.
They didn't know what to do with it.
They'd just put $120 million into it.
They're getting all that money out
and then some.
They can't be seen by any of their artists
to give into political
pressure whatsoever.
If you do that, they'd
never get another act again,
and no self-respecting manager
would ever side with a label
who they thought could be pressured
for content.
- We, African-American women particularly,
are tired of being called
hoes, bitches, and sluts
by our children
who are paid to do this
by Time Warner.
- She came out with an idea
that she reportedly pitched to Fuchs
that what if she started a label,
a positive rap label,
and got Suge to distribute
Death Row product
through her,
with her as the watchdog
of the lyrical content
to make sure that the
messages were positive.
Michael Fuchs, reportedly
desperate to try and
figure out a solution to this,
apparently listened to her.
She got Fuchs
to guarantee $80 million
if she could pull this off.
- Interscope was not
about to let Death Row go
without a fight.
Suge Knight also protected
those artists lyrically.
Made sure that everyone was allowed to say
whatever the hell they wanted to say.
- Whatever happens,
we're gonna stand up tall
and be more successful.
Only thing anybody doing is
making us stronger and better.
- No way he was gonna
let C. Delores Tucker
decide the lyrical content
of a Snoop Doggy Dogg album.
That wasn't gonna happen.
But, they apparently thought it was.
Michael Fuchs reportedly
flew to Los Angeles
in a Time Warner jet
to Dionne Warwick's house
where C. Delores Tucker
sitting there waiting
for Suge to come over to cut a deal
that would make a tame Death Row Records.
- What she really wanted
was a record company
or to have more involvement
in that business.
I mean, it is
a very lucrative business.
She had the wherewithal to see where
this rap situation was going,
how it had the nation
really sort of unnerved.
She was just trying to
parlay it into something
for herself or she had been promised
it would be something for herself.
- Never.
Never have I discussed
$80 million with them
about any kind of
business deal.
- The story goes that
they waited five hours,
Michael Fuchs, C. Delores Tucker,
at Dionne Warwick's house
that Suge never showed up.
Suge went right back
to Interscope and said,
do you know what these
guys just tried to pull?
So Interscope then
promptly sued Time Warner,
and promptly sued C. Delores Tucker
for interfering with their
contractual relationship.
- [Voiceover] Time Warner
has decided to get out of the
gangsta rap business
by selling its 50% share
of Interscope Records
back to that company.
- Made the right decision,
the morally responsible
decision, we think,
and we believe that either action,
divesting themselves of Interscope
at some financial loss,
they have set a standard for the entire
entertainment industry.
- I commend them for it.
I think they're gonna
be good corporate citizens.
- Death Row Records was at
the center of controversies
and if the Republicans
would've had their way,
would have brought down a president.
That's how big the controversy got.
- The origins of Death Row,
starting with David
Kenner, Michael Harris,
and Suge Knight,
didn't seem
out of the ordinary
until all the information
started unfolding, because David Kenner,
nobody knew who he was.
- David Kenner became the
principal business attorney
for the label, as well
as the criminal attorney
for many people at the label.
- Los Angeles police announced
that 21-year-old Calvin Broadus,
better known as rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg
had turned himself in to police on Friday,
along with two other young, black men
all accompanied by an attorney,
in connection with the
murder on August 25th
of a man named Phillip Woldermariam
in what police believe was
a gang-related shooting.
- It never should have gone to trial.
The alleged victim in this case had a gun,
he was reaching to his
waistband to pull that gun out
at the time,
Snoop's bodyguard
fired the shot.
And that's what we said
from the beginning.
The testimony makes it clear.
This is a case of self defense.
- The D.A.,
he was a pain in the ass.
He just tried to do
everything in the world
to make me seem like
the most negative
criminal-minded motherfucker
he could just imagine.
He tried to paint a picture of me
that just wasn't happening.
It was crazy knowing that
he was, that's what his job was,
to do was to get me locked up for life.
I just wanna say fuck you,
- Dave Kenner was the guy
who legally
made Suge secure.
One of the benefits Suge Knight
gave to people to join Death Row
was to say that I have a legal team,
people who have a lot of experience
in the criminal arena
that can help you.
Whereas in the past,
coming from a black community,
you go into a white justice system
where all the cards are
stacked against you.
Here, for the first time
in most of their lives,
they were given a lawyer
who was very capable,
and an investigator on top of it.
And the results spoke for
themselves most of the time.
They got to see instances where
they were acquitted
in cases in which normally,
they would have been convicted.
In the rap industry, the problems
happen at one or two in the morning,
so it's not a nine to five job.
David was the rare lawyer
who would be available
to clients at that hour.
- Of the $70 or $80 million
that Interscope paid them
between 1995 and 1997,
about $13 million of that
went to the law office
of David Kenner or to David Kenner.
Certainly, this company
was his bread and butter
for some time.
- What's your name again?
- David Kenner, K-E-N-N-E-R.
- I was quite surprised
because you expect a
music business attorney,
but he wasn't.
He was a criminal attorney.
- He had entertain attorney qualitites.
He's flamboyant.
He's sharp.
And he's kinda mafia-ish.
His whole persona.
- After a while,
David might have
got so caught up in his lifestyle
that he might become somewhat confused,
because the thing is that,
David really was supposed to be working on
getting Mike out.
- David was handling Michael's appeal.
David was involved very
much in Lydia's life.
He was friends with Lydia.
This was a person who was
very trustworthy to him.
- When I talk, man, Mike
is making a ton of money,
and then, you see Dave Kenner there.
So, you say if Dave is
there, then Mike is there.
And then the story starts lashing,
and then you know that they got
a war going on.
- It was rumors that Suge was over there
trying to get a deal at Interscope,
but when he would go down to visit Mike,
him and Kenner would say it wasn't true,
but Mike said hey, what's
this here in the newspaper?
And Suge would say,
oh, you know how the
newspaper print up articles.
So, Mike said, well,
they not just gon' print up anything,
so he start asking David,
what's going on?
Then David came and said
Suge did this behind my back.
- And that started to
cause Michael concern about
what exactly was going on.
He started to get word that
Suge was telling people, oh,
Michael Harris is nobody.
He's not my partner.
And the word on the street was,
Michael Harris was really
pissed off with Suge.
It's on.
- He wanted to get all the credit,
which Mike don't trip to credit.
The world thinks
that Suge did this on his own.
- Mike's in jail, but he's got a wife.
He's got a kid.
He's got family out here.
He's got people he's taking care of.
So, you know, his reaction,
if he stunned,
that he's kinda mad about it.
How you gon' punk me?
- The phone was never blocked
because it always had
cats calling from the pen.
wasn't the only one.
But after a while,
I even remember,
and I think it was because of Harry
that they then blocked the phone
where it couldn't take no more calls.
- David Kenner
started off to play these guys
against each other.
Once the riff between
Suge and Mike happened,
Dave Kenner had to pledge allegiance
one way or the other.
- Throughout this time, even if Suge was
denying his partnership with Michael,
denying that Michael had
any role in the company,
David would be going up to visit Michael
and saying, oh no, everything's okay.
There's no problem.
Everything's fine.
We're gonna get this taken care of.
- It reminds me of the
Brutus and Caesar.
At some point, Michael gets a hold of
the incorporation paperwork
of Death Row Records,
and realizes that Suge and David Kenner
had set up a different company
of Death Row Records that was independent
of this GF Entertainment
Michael had a hand in,
and I think Michael began to suspect that
things were not so kosher
with their partnership.
- He the one told Dave, hey,
look at this man, that guy Suge,
I like him.
Go talk to him.
Okay, a record company?
Okay, I give you this amount of money.
You tell him to do this, okay?
Then him and Suge talk,
and Suge going to visit him.
Suge, check this out.
Put it down like this, man.
Put it down like that.
Dave, you do this part.
Keep him out of jail.
You make sure keep him out of jail.
That's how Suge got all
the probation stuff.
Dave fighting like he crazy
to keep him out of jail,
because Mike telling him to.
Keep him out of jail.
But guess what?
Soon the money come in.
They turned into Scooby Doo in him.
Who? Who's that?
- Mike said, where's the money?
And they said,
it's gonna be 60 to 90 days
before we see a warranty check.
So those 60 and 90 days
turn into a year.
I went over and met with Dave at Cohorn
and he said, well, you know,
what if they don't pay you?
And I told him, I'm not threatening you,
but I'ma go on national TV
and tell what really happened.
- Everybody knew Harry-O wasn't no joke.
Everybody knew Harry-O had chips.
All you gotta do is be
no joke and have chips,
and you can get somebody handled.
- [Lydia] As for Michael,
typed up a letter.
- Michael put his concerns on paper
in the form of a lawsuit
that could have been filed,
that was never filed,
laying out his grievances
as to how he had been
a founding partner in Death Row Records
and had been denied his
fair share of the proceeds.
That lawsuit was shown to Interscope,
and Interscope did a
fairly generous settlement
to make it go away before
they ever got filed.
- That next day,
I got a call.
They told me that Mike
was in a wheelchair.
His mouth was twisted.
He couldn't even walk.
He couldn't even use his hands.
He couldn't do nothing.
I said, what happened?
And that's when the doctor
said he had Guillain-Barr.
And I asked Mike.
I said, well that,
can I give you anything?
- I started thinking, least to myself
that Suge was
getting hisself caught up
into too many situations
that were unhealthy.
He had created an image
that was working for him,
and sometimes image merged with reality,
I'm not sure that as time went on,
that Suge didn't
draw the line between
when it was the image
and when it was reality.
- Suge wasn't a gangster.
Suge came from a family.
His mother and father were still together.
He was a college football player.
- I feel I got
a whole, whole lot of street credibility
and street smarts,
and at the same time,
I graduated from college.
I hit the books,
and I put both of them together.
- He ran that company like
it was his gang.
That's his family.
He might not love us, but
he made us think he did.
- A lot of what followed,
in part, had to do with
trying to establish Death Row as a label
with the most street credibility
and we're really doing gangsta rap
and we're keeping it real.
We're keeping it legitimate.
And so when you guys get out the joint,
you can come get a job with me.
That sorta thing.
- I ain't never had a
job before in my life
until I started working for Suge.
In and out of jail, you
know what I'm saying.
Did a little bit of everything.
- Yeah, a lot of them
cats that was up there
were fresh out the penitentiary
with their penitentiary mentality.
It was like working
at a prison with no guns,
no knives, no nothing.
You just had to be in there on your own
and handle it.
How many companies do you know
can have some crips and bloods up there?
Crips and blods.
At first, I was totally
with Death Row's concept,
because it was about time
we had a brother out there
that wasn't taking no
shit from these companies
that wasn't paying their money.
So I was totally with it.
It was when the nonsense
got too out of hand.
- We had a system of that kind of thing,
sorta like a demerit system
for artists and so on, and for
some of the office workers.
- Say something wrong, you get a smack.
If you come late, you get smacked.
You do this, you get smacked.
That sounds to me,
to me, it was like pimps and hoes.
- I just knew how after a while,
Suge was unapproachable.
You couldn't really talk to him no more.
I just,
I just knew it.
There was no more talking to this guy.
This guy is the fucking man.
That company was by no ways,
forms, or fashion Hollywood.
You know how white folks like to do.
They like to scream at each other,
I'm gonna get my lawyer on you!
But the new brothers
wasn't doing it like that.
They was coming through doors,
coming through windows,
and the whole nine on people.
- You know, these rappers
are from the street.
They're not used to nothing else.
So, you have to deal
with them in the street
- I heard somebody once
describe them as all thinking they were
in a Godfather movie.
- Suge was famous for applying
the old mafia tactics.
He would instill fear in everybody.
That guy just walks in,
he walks into a room,
he has no idea we're in
the middle of a meeting.
He wants a record deal.
He walks in and he says
he know how to rap.
Suge says okay, rap.
If we don't like what you do,
we're gonna kick your ass.
He said maybe three words
and they just lit his ass up.
- I've seen people get beat up.
I've seen people get
that door locked on them.
The infamous door lockings.
They take you in a room
and touch you up and down.
- I wasn't the only lady that got beat up.
I was the only lady beat
up and he held down.
Suge grabbed me by my feet
and everything went haywire.
This girl cold-cocked me.
Loosened up my teeth and
I had two black eyes.
David Kenner stood up and watched.
Somebody else video-taped it,
and I kicked Suge in his nuts
and I got the hell up outta there.
I have not laid eyes
on Suge since that day.
He won't lay eyes on me 'til he see this.
- All that drama that people
knew that was happening
right there at Death
Row on that 12th floor.
This is at the building right down here
at the UCLA on Willshire.
It never leaked over to
the Interscope's side.
You see the Interscope.
Interscope looks nice, woody
thing say Interscope Records.
They'd get in at a reception.
Death Row is just a door.
It was just a
mahogany colored door
with a camera.
- DOC and RBX both had problems with Suge.
They seen what type of
person he was on the inside.
Not to say nothing bad or
not to say nothing good
about him, but they seen
the type of person he was.
And through the grace of
God and good attorneys,
they were able to leave.
Everybody else was forced
in a chokehold after that.
- Tupac Shakur was
not before his time,
but one of a kind of his time and era.
He was a movie star,
but for him to be doing street stuff
gave him sort of a Marlon Brando edge.
The outlaw,
who was living life in some romantic
or just Hemingway world
where you lived out your art.
- He had that almost
uncontrollable, defiant attitude.
- I got a big mouth.
Can't help it.
I talk from my heart. I'm real.
Whatever comes, comes.
But my controversy problem.
And it's not my fault.
I'm trying to find my way in the world.
I'm trying to be somebody
instead of just making
money off everybody.
- Tupac's gift was the ability
to take somebody else's
pain and story and translate it.
- We as rappers
bought that violence.
We bought the violence
that we see on the street
and put it in our records.
Put it in our records for years.
And after three, four years,
people finally starting to see it
because all the statistics
that's going on in the streets.
If we stop talking about it,
then they wouldn't take statistics.
And when they stop taking statistics,
then we be killing each
other in the street
and these white people
wouldn't care no more.
- He would definitely give
you something to think about.
- I know some of y'all white folks
and some of y'all black
folks don't appreciate
what we talking bout,
but this is the only way
we got to make money.
And if you don't let me make
my money on the streets,
I guarantee, I will make my money
on the streets.
- A lot of people say the same things
or have said the same things as Pac.
But Tupac made it believable.
- At first, I always
thought he was this crazy,
arrogant little idiot,
but I didn't really know how deep he was.
- We have to be honest
about the tools that we use
to survive,
and why is a black life
any more
recoupable than a white life?
We know that they don't put
the same security in the ghetto
that they do in the white neighborhoods.
- What I saw in Tupac was
someone who had a desire
to be successful,
and he only had two or three avenues.
One was rapping,
one was acting,
and the other was
going into the movement
that his family came out of.
- [Ton] His mother was a Black Panther.
All of the anger,
frustration, and everything
that she was dealing with
and what was going on
with her, at that time in her life,
was feeding right into him.
When Tupac was a kid,
for punishment, she would make him read
the New York Times cover to cover.
And at the end of the day,
he would be quizzed on everything he read
out of the paper.
Tupac, well aware
of what his mother had gone through,
brought that into the 90s
because nothing had changed
in the 60s to the 90s
as far as he saw with his race of people.
- I don't know how to be responsible
for what every black male did.
I don't know.
Yes, I am gonna say that I'm a thug.
That's because I came from the gutter,
and I'm still here.
I'm not saying I'm a thug
'cause I wanna rob you
or rape people and thing.
I'm a businessman.
I mean, you know I'm a businessman
because you find me at my
place in some business.
- Tupac was a star at Interscope,
and Interscope had their
hands full with him.
He was in jail and in trouble.
- He just had got beat up by the police.
He had a lawsuit going
at them that he won,
and he was getting just
harassed for anything.
I mean, they just start throwing him
on a nose as the bad guy of rap
when he really wasn't that person.
- I appreciate the
present you have given me,
for giving me a fair trail
and a fair shot a justice.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart
for just destroying
everything I worked for
for the past 22 years.
And a Happy New Year to you too.
- Tupac was in the news everyday.
I mean, you can't buy
that kind of publicity.
It's unfortunate the kinds of
media coverage that they got,
but it added to sales.
- People didn't know Pac had like 15 cases
in different states in America.
We would go do a show,
Pac would go straight to court
soon as we get off the airplane.
- Don't block my way
and don't hit my lawyer.
- Great artists
are almost always out of step
with what's going on in society
because they see the world differently
and they act differently.
- The last situation he got into,
Interscope kinda like, left him for dead.
They wasn't really fucking
with Pac like that.
- [Voiceover] Shakur and another man
were accused of sexually
assaulting and sodomizing
a 21-year-old woman in
their hotel room last year.
- It's not a crime
for me to be with any
girl I wanna be with.
It's the crime for that girl
to turn that into a rape charge.
It was her
who sodomized me.
It wasn't me who went down in a dance club
and ate her out.
It was her at a dance club
who had oral sex with me.
She should be charged. Not me.
- Last night, just after midnight,
At 723 7th Avenue,
that's between 48th and 49th Street,
our rap star Tupac Shakur
and three members of his group
were robbed and shot.
- The word on the streets is that
it was a warning to Tupac.
Who's it coming from?
- [Voiceover] In a
bizarre twist of events,
rap singer Tupac Shakur
checked himself out of Bellevue Hospital
late Wednesday night
after the 23-year-old was shot five times
early that same morning
in side the lobby of a Times
Square recoding studio.
- [Voiceover] Shakur had
appeared in court today
but had little to say about being shot.
- [Voiceover] After three days
of deliberations, the jury
has finally decided the
fate of rapper Tupac Shakur:
guilty on three counts of sexual abuse.
He now faces one and a half
to four and a half years in prison.
- The main evidence for the incarceration
of Mr. Shakur was from City Hall.
Mr. Giuliani himself.
- Being 23, being black,
and last name being Shakur in America,
he never had a chance.
- Tupac was in jail,
and he wanted out of jail,
and he wanted out of jail badly.
No one, including Interscope,
was putting up any bail
money to get him out.
And his bill was set at
- A lot of people on the East Coast,
a lot of people in New
York City dissed him
hard, man.
They dissed him on the radio.
No one went to go visit him
except for a few people.
- And he wanted to be number one again.
So where else do you go
but to where the other
number one people are?
Death Row Records had been
trying to get Tupac for
some time.
- If you got Suge Knight
dangling in front of you
freedom, freedom, money, power,
respect, and can get you out of jail,
obviously you're gonna go for it.
You got a scared young man,
first time behind bars,
he's supposed to be back
there for four years.
- Pac promised him in return.
You get me outta here,
I'll put Death Row on the map.
My first CD'll sell 6,000,000 copies.
- And I don't think it's a coincidence
that Suge wanted him on
Death Row Records so badly,
because even though Snoop was a huge star,
he didn't have what Tupac had.
That kind of icon presence
like a James Dean,
or Elvis.
- Now, I heard that he
had Pac sign a contract
on toilet paper (laughs).
I don't know how true it is,
but I know when Pac came back,
he was ready.
- Tupac got out September of '95.
He went to Death Row Records the day he
got off the plane,
and they laid down their
first track for All Eyez On Me
in 15 minutes.
- This albums is more
celebratory of life.
fun, I think,
but it's also harsher,
in terms of the language
because I didn't,
I've been in jail for 11 1/2 months.
- Tupac brought the feeling of
I was nothin', now I'm somethin',
and I wanted everybody
else to be something too.
If I could do it, you can do it.
- He stirred up the whole group there.
He got them all going, and all working.
He made sure that every artist
at Death Row had some part
of this double CD.
It was his way of saying, look,
I'm part of the family,
and I want you on my album,
which he did not have to do.
- I remember doing a session with him
and it seemed like he
was just running around
having fun, you know,
having a good time.
But the man was done.
We though that he didn't even write them.
We thought he came with
his lyrics already,
but no, he wrote them that day.
And that's how sharp he was, man.
- You had people around the studio saying,
man, we gotta get like Pac.
Pac just go in there and
kick 'em in, kick 'em out.
Kick 'em in, kick 'em out.
And that's all they'd talk about.
And exactly what they're doing.
- He made the level of competition,
which is a good thing.
He brought that level up.
Any of the artists will tell you
that what Tupac put into them
was this business of work ethic,
where you can do more if you just
work at it.
When Tupac came, it's like,
Suge wasn't worried about nobody else.
Not Snoop,
nobody at the time.
- By the time that Tupac got out of jail,
Sean Puffy Combs was about to become
I would say the East Coast
version of Suge Knight
with Bad Boy Records.
His first big artist
was the Notorious B.I.G.
- This bullshit about the
East Coast and the West Coast
started when we went out to New York
to do the Source Awards,
and Mr. Knight went on stage
and he's in New York City,
and we all know Puff
is from New York City.
- Any artist out there wanna be an artist
and wanna stay at star,
won't have to worry about
an executive producer
trying to be all in the videos,
all on the records,
come to Death Row.
(crowd booing)
- I mean, the whole crowd started booing
and then I thought to myself like,
why would you do that?
- The East Coast don't love
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?
(crowd cheering)
The East Coast ain't got no
love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?
And Death Row?
Y'all don't love us?
Y'all don't love us?
Well, let me be known then!
We know y'all East Coast.
We know where we at.
(crowd booing)
East Coast (mic tunes out).
- I'm the executive
producer that that comment
was made about a little bit earlier.
But check this out,
contrary to what other people may feel,
I would like to say
that I'm very proud of Dr. Dre
of Death Row and Suge Knight
for their accomplishments.
And all this East and
West thing need to stop.
- It was so
Puffy was a good friend of mine.
- There's enough room in this business
for two young black males
who are entrepreneurs
to exist, I mean.
Can you imagine if Al Bell and Berry Gordy
were fighting or if the
Temptations had beef
with the Four Tops?
I mean, it sounds fucking
retarded when you think about it.
The Four Tops got beef
with the Temptations.
Marvin Gaye and Smokey
Robinson were fighting
at the Grammy Awards last night.
I mean, think about it for a second.
- A lot of people in
the West Coast felt that
we have always
had love for the East Coast.
They come here and break their records.
They come here and play at the clubs.
They come do in-stores.
We do the whole nine with
them East Coast cats.
And we go out there, and we
don't get that same love.
- I remember New York DJs at parties
refusing to play West Coast records.
They country, they're bammers,
they wear jheri curls, they can't rhyme.
They're wack. It's not danceable.
- It was the media that blew it up.
You're seeing
certain things that somebody said
highlighted in magazines
about the West Coast and vice versa
and it just,
it just boiled over from there.
- All these people talking about
a East Coast/West Coast war,
they like Judas was to Jesus.
They only here to cause confusion.
- It made rap music look bad.
It made rap music look like
it's just another part of the dope gang.
- Controversy is what Death Row started
living off of, instead of talent.
- If this was chess,
we'd be yelling checkmate
three motherfucking years ago,
'cause we been beat these motherfuckers.
- Then the disrespect just
started getting worse and worse
between the West Coast and the East Coast.
- Overthrow the government
y'all got right now
which is Bad Boy and Nas
and all that bullshit,
and we will bring a new government here
that will feed every person in New York.
- And then you had
Tupac and Big situation,
flaming in even more.
- [Tupac] I possess his soul.
Him and Puffy.
They know that I was the truest nigga
involved with Biggie's success.
I was the biggest help.
I was the truest.
I don't write his rhyme,
but you know how much
you borrowed from me.
He know how I used to stop my shows
and let him touch the shelf.
Let him blow up and do his whole show
in the middle of my show.
How I used to buy him
shit and give him shit,
and never asked for it back.
How I used to share.
How I used to share my
experiences in the game
and my lessons and my rules and
my knowledge on the game with him.
He owe me more.
He owe me more than to turn his head
and act like he didn't
know niggas was about
to blow my fucking head off.
He knew.
But for me to know,
three weeks ago this happened, and then
three weeks later, your album's coming out
and you are fucking don in your album.
But you don't know how shot me
in your fucking hometown?
This nigga is from your neighborhood
and I gotta find out by myself
and I don't even call myself a don,
just a capo
from the Westside.
And I'm on the Eastside in jail
and I know who touched me
and I know everything that happened.
- Tupac was wrong in blaming
whoever the individual figures were
who actually had something to do with it
in New York,
and making it into this whole
New York City thing,
then this East Coast/West Coast thing.
And I think he definitely
had someone in his ear,
probably Suge,
exacerbating it.
It sells records.
It continues to get media attention,
which sells more records.
- Tupac had claimed to have
gone out with Biggie's wife, Faith Evans.
This was a great humiliation
reportedly for Biggie.
It was all over.
- We were in Manhattan
shooting a video.
Biggie Smalls had gotten
on the radio station
and Biggie said that I cannot believe
that New York is allowing
Tupac and the Dogg Pound
to shoot a video in our city
right in the heart of Times Square.
The words out of Biggie's mouth was,
"Tupac and the Dogg Pound,"
and it wasn't.
It was Snoop and the Dogg Pound.
Tupac was not with us.
Snoop, at the time, was
having his hair braided.
All of the artists was in the trailer,
then all of a sudden,
Someone shot into the trailer.
They weren't shooting in there
to say get out.
They were shooting in
there to kill someone.
- There was a shift in
Tupac Shakur's lyrical content.
He at first was more political,
then at some point, he became more street.
It was West Coast versus East Coast.
The person at Riker's
Island was very reflective
and he's gonna change
his life and everything.
This new person was like,
fuck New York,
fuck the East Coast.
Suge is the man.
He takes care of me.
He's flashing money in
front of the MTV cameras.
It was like, wow, his jet going high.
- One of the songs
was a song called Hit 'Em Up.
It talked about killing
the Bad Boy camp.
Different artists.
It was a lot of threats.
I go, Pac,
did you hear what you said?
He was like, yeah, nigga, I wrote it.
Okay, um.
We're gonna need some more security
and you need to start wearing a vest.
- Any time you have this
synergy between two or more people
and they make things happen,
when you start breaking that up,
things are never the same again.
- When you think about Dr. Dre,
here's a cat who's always had some sort of
big brother or father figure around him.
Earlier on, it was Alonzo Williams.
Then it was Eazy-E, Jerry Heller.
Then it becomes Suge Knight.
And so, Dre was one of those cats
who always needed
guidance from someone else
because Dre is really an artistic person.
He's an artist. He's a true artist.
- Seem like after a while,
somebody was pulling his strings.
Like, Dre had to answer to somebody.
- [Voiceover] Who do you think that was?
- We all know who that was.
- The King, i.e. Suge Knight
felt the need to have
the court around him,
and I don't think Dre felt
comfortable with that.
- I've got all these people around me.
How many of them do I really need?
- Tupac and Dr. Dre
was fine from the beginning.
Everything was great.
I mean, you didn't see any problems.
From the time that I worked there in '95
up until early '96,
Dr. Dre had been in the studio twice.
Pac took offense to that.
- He wasn't producing shit.
Other niggas was producing
the beats I put on my album.
Other niggas was doing the beats,
and Dre was getting the credit.
- Daz and all the other
little producers and
Assassin, all the ones we have,
they did the tracks.
Dre wasn't doing the tracks and
Dre didn't write the lyrics.
- Suge basically took
on the role for Tupac
that he had taken on for Dre.
And I don't think it's a
coincidence at a certain point,
Tupac started becoming
a mouthpiece for Suge
and started dissing Dre.
- He is a dope producer,
but he ain't worked in years.
I'm out here in the street,
you know what I mean,
whooping niggas' ass,
starting wars and shit,
putting it down, dropping albums,
doing my shit,
and this nigga taking
three years to do one song.
- I'm seeing the change like
right after we finished
Murder Was the Case
and we moved into Can Am Studios,
start working on the Dogg Food album.
I just seen that
he wasn't as inspired and it was like,
it was too many thugs and
niggas up there that didn't
have nothing to do with nothing.
- It was mostly just
the way the studio was.
And that's where I have
to spend most of my time.
- It was not a work atmosphere no more.
It became fun and games
and the success had kicked in,
and we were stars.
And motherfuckers just
loved being around us,
and bringing bullshit around us.
And Dre wasn't for that.
- I just didn't like
some of the things that were going on.
There was nothing being done to stop it.
- Dre and I used to work in
an environment where he can create,
and everybody's on a creative atmosphere
and it's not about what's
going on in the hood,
how many niggas you shot,
and how much shit you done did.
He don't want that.
- Suge took over the company.
It was no mystery to nobody.
I don't think Dre wanted to
be a yes man for somebody,
so he wanted his own situation again.
So he bailed out.
- He says wait, I want out of this world.
I want to form Aftermath,
where I'm not part of Death Row anymore.
I wanna be beyond that.
I wanna be with my family.
I wanna live.
- When Dr. Dre left Death Row Records,
that was the biggest shock to me.
'Cause I was real confused
at how you start a label
and you leave the label.
I always figured if you
had a problem with somebody
on your label,
you make them leave the label
and you go on with what you're doing.
I guess that was the way of learning
it wasn't all his label.
- Dre's departure
wasn't a loss for me.
If you have a multi-million dollar company
maybe worth a billion dollars or so,
and you own it 100% and
don't have a partner,
then you don't have to give him nothing
but his walking papers.
That's great.
- Dre made Death Row Records.
You know what I'm saying?
And this is absurd that
he's gone from one situation
to another situation
where he feels like he's
being under-compensated.
- To give up 50% of your label
and move on elsewhere
from a dangerous situation
which Death Row Records
was becoming and
we now find out that it is,
was a smart move for him.
(record scratches)
- September 7th,
we were just leaving the fight.
Tupac, Mike Tyson, friends,
we're at the fight.
And we go backstage
to leave the building.
Immediately after coming from backstage,
one of Suge's homeboys came up
and whispered into Tupac's ear.
Pac took off running.
There was a gentleman standing with a
MGM security guard by a pillar
as Tupac was approaching him.
Now when I think about it,
the guy was standing there waiting.
Then Pac ran up on him,
and the fight broke out.
Orlando Anderson
and a couple of Suge's homeboys
had gotten into a
fight at the Lakewood Mall in California
back in April of '96
over a Death Row chain
because there was a bounty on
the Death Row chains.
The same person that had
gotten into altercation
with Orlando Anderson in the mall
whispered into Tupac's ear
and it caused this fight.
They were beating Orlando
Anderson up on the ground.
Tupac, Suge, and the
rest of the entourage,
they were pretty much bragging
about what had happened.
We get back to the Luxor Hotel.
We go up to Tupac's room.
He changed clothes,
come back downstairs.
We're all just standing around.
All the women are coming out,
everybody's ready to go over to 662,
the after party.
So Tupac turns to me and says,
no, don't ride with us.
He hands me the keys and says,
you go drive your little homies
because we're going to the
club, gonna be partying
and you're gonna drive us.
So I said okay.
Pac and Suge get into the BMW.
We get back onto the Las Vegas strip.
Suge's the lead car.
I'm the car right behind him,
and then, there's just cars all behind us.
So we turn right off
of Las Vegas Boulevard
onto Flamingo
to go down to 662.
As we approach the next stoplight,
which is Koval on Flamingo,
there is a car
coming down the open lane
that is next to
myself and the BMW.
As the car's approaching,
I turn and I look to my right,
and I see the car.
It's a white Cadillac.
It kinda had moved over,
and I would say closer to the BMW
probably about that close
and an arm just comes out
and just starts firing.
- I heard the shots being fired.
Pac stood up to try to
get into the backseat
to get out the way of the shots.
That's how he got shot in his hip,
which hit one of the bones
and travelled and hit his lung.
I grabbed him and said get down,
and covered him.
When I pulled him down,
that's when I got shot in my head.
I said, you hit?
He said I'm hit.
So I'm driving like a madman to a hospital
and the first thing he said
laughingly, jokingly, loudly,
is I need a hospital?
You the one shot in the head.
(sirens wailing)
- Coming up next on the 10:00 news.
His lyrics, his life
reflected a gangsta lifestyle.
Tonight, Bay Area rapper Tupac Shakur
is dead of gunshot wounds.
- All over the media, all over the news,
all over the radio.
- [Voiceover] Hundreds
line the streets outside
the Nation of Islam school
to pay their respects to the slain rapper.
- The first things I started hearing
were rumors that Suge had had Tupac shot
because Tupac was thinking
of leaving the industry,
and I started to laugh when I heard that.
I said, you know,
the problem with this is
why would someone like Suge
have the shooter shoot across the car
so that the bullets would hit him?
- There are so many
different layers to the story
and it's so tragic.
Tupac Shakur is
one of those kids who was really
one of the great creative forces
of our agents.
He wasn't just a rapper.
He was a kid who was really insightful.
- He had said
I didn't wanna go to Vegas anyway.
He almost didn't even come.
That day was gonna happen.
It was the destiny of his life.
He had the thought of not going,
but he went
because destiny was to die that next day.
- And it's just a shame that
another brother gets lost
as a victim of his music.
- If you have any street sense
knowledge about yourself,
you knew that company was
gon' come crashing down
feds first.
- People
let the fame go to their heads
and their egos took over,
and the next thing you know
it wasn't nowhere to go but down.
- Coming up, will the founder
of one of rap music's most
successful record labels
be doing time for a probation violation?
Last year, he pled no contest
at two counts of assault,
standing from a 1992 attack
on two aspiring rappers
in a Hollywood recording studio
and this is a man
who has eight different convictions.
- And Your Honor, I ask you,
how many bites at the probation apple
does this defendant get?
- I think it is very clear
that Mr. Knight
delivers a kick with his right foot.
- That man made a choice
to ignore his conscience.
And it's only him
that can reconcile that
and can change it.
We can't.
We can just move on,
give our contribution
to the music industry,
and hope that nothing like this
ever happens again.
- He was an active
participant in this assault,
and I do find a violation of probation.
I also keep in mind,
I think the way he left the
scene evidenced a consciousness
of guilt.
I think he had been involved in assault,
and the way he left the scene
causes me to believe that he knew exactly
what it was he was doing,
what he was involved in.
Your prior record
indicates one of violence.
You are a danger to the community.
Your prior performance on probation
was not satisfactory.
You committed other crimes
while you were on probation.
You are not a suitable
candidate for probation,
in other words,
and therefore, probation is denied.
- I don't think anybody
here has any question
that if we were dealing with somebody
other than Mr. Knight,
what we saw in that
video tape, first of all,
would not be sufficient to constitute
a probation violation,
and secondly and most importantly,
even if somebody thought it was,
it's certainly not the kind of violation
and the kind of activity
that warrants a nine-year sentence.
- How can Suge be in jail?
How can one of the most powerful people
in the record business,
not black people,
one of the most powerful people
in the record business
be in jail
for something as silly
as stopping a fight
or even kicking somebody?
- In my opinion,
this is a miscarriage of justice.
- You got this lawyer, this attorney,
this guy who's pretty brilliant,
so you know that this
isn't a regular attorney.
He's got some pull somewhere
because he's got somebody
from the DA's office
involved in this thing,
and you're saying to yourself,
if all these people were involved,
all these powerful people,
what kind of situation
did he set Suge up in?
I mean, Dave Kenner was a
big man in our business,
on all levels,
and you have to ask yourself,
did the money get to him?
Did the power get to him?
You gotta ask yourself, was
Suge thinking about this?
Is he sitting in jail saying,
is this guy really on my side?
- Suge Knight was and is Death Row,
and for me, without Suge Knight,
there is so Death Row.
- If Suge has grasped
all that has happened to him,
I think that he can come out
and again, start up Death Row Records
and start a record company
that would be more viable than ever.
- They will be legends
no matter what happens,
but if that had continued to go on,
no telling what kind of
influence they may have had
on the inner city youth in America.
When you have guys that have the ears
of not only black America,
but white America also,
you can call some shots.
Anybody can sell 4,000,000 records?
5,000,000 records?
Anybody can sell out
concerts around the world?
Whatever they put their
name and faces on will sell.
Whatever they endorse,
will be backed up 100%.
- The Death Row Records story
told the tale of three
major record labels,
almost brought one of them down,
rattled another to its core,
and set the framework
for a whole new way of doing business
in the music business.
This was a story that wasn't
just about a bunch of guys
from Compton,
it was a story that affected
the whole music business
and ultimately, the business world.
- It's about empowerment.
It's about greed. It's about ego.
It's about sex. It's about violence.
It's about fame. It's about failure.
I mean, you don't get any
more American than that.
- The legacy that Death
Row Records has left
is both positive and negative.
I think the positive legacy was that
if you have talent, if
you're prepared to work,
you can create a business
and it can be successful.
People always say,
remember how Suge started
his company from nothing?
We can do that.
We're gonna hear
this music forever.
It's gonna forever mark an era
in American culture and American history.
- Now, the sad part about
this whole thing is that
Jimmy Iovine and Ted
Fields sold Interscope
for $400 million.
I still have the articles.
Wall Street Journal.
It says, "Warners
"Ups Its Stake in Rap Music."
So what they were buying was Death Row.
They paid $400 million for it.
So Jimmy Iovine and Ted
Fields got $400 million.
Tupac's dead,
and Suge's in jail.
- Who's in jail?
Mike Harris,
Suge Knight.
Where's the money?
Who controls the money?
(laughing) What happened to the power
that all these black folks controlled?
- Death Row is the named party
in scores of lawsuits
over its financial management
and mismanagement
with the federal investigation.
They're looking into Suge's
dealing in Las Vegas.
They're looking into his
dealings with Michael Harris.
- Michael has an attempted
murder charge over his head
and a drug case over his head.
If the government offered Michael
an opportunity to get out
of jail to testify against
David Kenner or Suge Knight
or Andre Young or someone else,
there's a good chance that
Michael could take it.
- Suge, I would imagine,
in the minds of white corporate
American record business
had to be stopped.
He had to be stopped.
- When we start taking the money
that we make in the streets,
however we do it, if
it's hustling bottles,
selling bottle tops,
selling a bag of weed on the corner,
however we do it,
when we do it,
and we start realizing, you know what,
let me find something legal to do,
that's when it becomes a problem.
They don't want us legal.
They rather we,
'cause they feel like, you selling dope,
you ain't gon' never really get rich,
unless you the man sitting
next to the goddamn man.
It'll be hard to dig up and find
who started what
with what kind of legal money,
but they wouldn't wanna do that.
If they were to take Death Row
right now from Suge Knight,
what about Atlantic Group?
What about Interscope Records?
They made more money than Death Row did
off of Death Row.
If Death Row's founded by drug money
and Death Row made money,
Interscope made money,
Atlantic Group made money,
you take everybody record company.
You don't take just the black man's.
(hip-hop music)