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Marion "Suge" Knight

CEO Suge Knight is the brains and the braun behind Death Row Records. In ten years he has taken a barely-known company and a fledgling rap industry to the forefront of the musical world. Death Row revolutionized rap by ridding it of its old school flavor in 1992 with The Chronic. Since then, it has carried the hip-hop planet on its shoulders with over FIFTY MILLION COPIES SOLD* and talented artist after talented artist. This is all the vision and work of Suge.

Born in Compton to a truck-driver from Arkansas, Marion Knight's main family as a teen was the Mob Piru Bloods (The 6-6-2 in his now-closed Las Vegas nightspot Club 662 spells m-o-b on a phone pad). After playing football with UNLV and briefly with the NFL's LA Rams, the 6'3", 315 pounder turned to the entertainment business as a bodyguard and later as a promoter. Always a man thinking of how to make money, he teamed up with a post-N.W.A. Dr. Dre in 1992 to form Future Shock Records (Quickly changed to Death Row Records, then The New and "Untouchable" Death Row Records after Snoop's acquital, then The "Untouchable" Death Row Records, back to Death Row Records, and now Tha Row Records). He immediately changed the lettering on the company logo and his buildings red to show devotion to his gang.

Suge was freed from prison in August 2001 after serving five years of a nine year sentence for a parole violation incurred after beating Orlando Anderson in Las Vegas the night of Tupac's shooting. With promises of revamping the label and returning to the fresh ghetto sound that made Death Row a force in the industry in the nineties, only time will tell if his return will spark success once again.

* At 50 million units moved in the U.S. alone, this amounts to around $750 million in generated sales (figuring an average of $15 per unit). Don't think that Death Row receives close to all that money, but it just puts in perspective the "Row-Centered Economy" that stores, artists, Suge, distributors, the label, etc. have shared in. It also doesn't count the millions of units moved in the international arena.