NEW YORK - Snoop Dogg has officially gone from hip-hop icon to hip-hop mogul. This week, the rapper purchased Death Row Records — the record label that actually launched his career.
"I felt like it was the ultimate boss move — particularly for an artist, someone who's traditionally known as an artist," AllHipHop.com founder Chuck Creekmur. "But we know Snoop has grown since his 1993 debut Doggystyle."
Suge Knight, industry veteran Dick Griffey and Dr. Dre founded the label in 1992. Dre's critically acclaimed album The Chronic, released that same year, put Death Row on the music industry map. It introduced the world to the sights and sounds of South LA, which Creekmur said is perhaps its greatest legacy.
"The low riders, you know, and the streets of South Central California — and all of that was really injected into the music," Creekmur said. "There was even a bit of a political side. Remember the LA riots and all this strife was going on in the streets. So they captured a lot of that in the music."
Snoop's debut release continued a string of successes that included luring Tupac Shakur away from the East Coast, which some say further fueled the East Coast–West Coast feud.
But Knight's brushes with the law and subsequent prison sentence contributed to Death Row's demise, which included bankruptcy.
What Snoop paid for Death Row remains unknown. But the unreleased material from Shakur, Dre, and Snoop himself could be a gold mine.
And Snoop vows to make Death Row relevant once more.
"There's a lot more to consider right now. He might have to do Tik Tok or dance or something or figure out a way to promote the label through social media," Creekmur said.