|Suge Knight got shot. Again. Sometimes I worry about Suge. I wonder how he's making ends meet. Is he getting enough to eat?|
I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Suge Knight.
I only really think about him when he gets shot. Or when someone punches him really hard and knocks him unconscious. Or when he punches someone. Or robs someone. One of these things seems to happen every six months or so.
You don't even know who he is, do you? That's okay. I don't blame you. He's kind of a blast from the past.
Back in the 1990s, Suge (short for Sugar Bear) Knight was the founder and CEO of something called Death Row Records. Death Row was famous for subjecting everyone in America to "gangsta" rap.
At one time, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur were all signed to Death Row, and were releasing million-selling albums and singles, one right after the other.
Suge was a powerful music mogul before the age of 30, a multi-millionaire, and the iron-fisted ruler of an entertainment empire.
He stood an imposing 6 foot 4, weighed over 300 pounds, had briefly played professional football, and was known for his Los Angeles gang ties, and for his tendency to employ violence as a business tool.
He supposedly hung the rapper Vanilla Ice by his feet off a hotel balcony. He might have attended a contract negotiation with Ruthless Records while accompanied by a group of men carrying baseball bats.
Like some other large, dangerous men, Suge had a strange, high-pitched sort of voice, and even the hint of a lisp. Not that anyone would be dumb enough to call attention to these things in his presence.
Anyway, it didn't matter what Suge sounded like. He was on top of the world. Until something very bad happened.
|Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Suge Knight in 1996, just before the bottom dropped out.|
On September 7, 1996, Suge, Tupac and their entourage were in Las Vegas for a Mike Tyson fight against Bruce Seldon. It was one of the shortest fights in heavyweight championship history, clocking in at a minute and 49 seconds. Tyson won easily, with a phantom punch, and Seldon retired in mortified embarrassment.
After the fight, Tupac, Suge and the entourage attacked a Los Angeles gang member named Orlando Anderson in the lobby of a casino. They stomped Anderson for a little while, then went out for a drive to a private club co-owned by Suge.
On the way there, Suge and Tupac were attacked in a drive-by shooting (possibly by Anderson), and Tupac died at the tender age of 25. Suge was hit in the head by shrapnel from the bullets. Medical scans of his brain found nothing.
|Tupac and Suge in their car, a few moments before Tupac was killed.|
In many ways, Suge Knight's career seemed to end with Tupac's murder.
Suge himself was arrested that night.
The casino surveillance video of him attacking Orlando Anderson was enough to put him behind bars on a parole violation stemming from some previous episode of mindless violence. Suge didn't see the outside of prison again until August, 2001.
While he was away, Death Row Records unraveled. Tupac was dead. Snoop Dogg quit the label and moved to New Orleans so no one could kill him. Odd choice of city if you're trying not to get killed, but it worked. Dr. Dre had quit the label months before, fed up with Suge's violent tendencies.
With no headlining acts left, the label went under. It was sold off in pieces in bankruptcy court, right down to the electric chair they kept in their offices. Then Suge himself went bankrupt. In one court proceeding, he claimed to have $12 left to his name. His $6 million Malibu mansion was sold off to help settle his debts. Suge was broke.
|The famous Death Row Records electric chair. It sold for $2,500 in a bankruptcy auction. Apparently, it was really a functioning electric chair once upon a time.|
But then a funny thing happened. Which is to say, nothing happened. Suge just went on and on. And continues to go on. With no visible means of support.
He has started numerous record labels since Death Row went under. One was called Tha Row Records. Another was called Blackball Records, and he even filmed a reality show called Unfinished Business about his efforts to get Blackball off the ground. The show was never aired and Blackball never did get off the ground.
He was associated with a now-defunct record label called Brick Squad Monopoly. And these days he has a record label called Black Kapital Records. Through it all, he has steadfastly managed to not release any actual records.
What he does do is make appearances at entertainment industry events. Often enough, someone shoots him at these events. This happened three nights ago at a party before the MTV Video Music Awards. Suge was shot six times, but managed to walk out of the party unaided. This is because Suge has magical powers.
In 2005, he was shot at another party before the MTV Video Music Awards. Afterwards, he sued the rapper Kanye West, who hosted the party. Suge said that when he was shot, someone also stole his diamond earring, valued at $147,000.
See, but Suge had gone bankrupt before then. I didn't know they let you keep stuff like that in bankruptcy court. Unless he got the earring after he went bankrupt, which would then mean he has a source of income, and a nice one at that.
Which makes me curious.
Every time Suge gets shot, or attacks someone, or someone attacks him (again, fairly regular events), the newspaper articles describe him as "former music mogul" Suge Knight. But they never say what he currently does.
This is a gaping hole in the coverage of Suge. I understand that his primary significance was as CEO of Death Row, so that's what they always mention. But it would be nice if just once, a newspaper article would answer one simple question:
"What does Suge Knight do for a living now?"