“My dad was a superhero to me. I just want to make him proud,” Knight tells Billboard. “And since we were unable to talk, it gave me the ambition to get into something that he could at least read about.”
With the ban recently lifted, the show documents Knight’s first phone call with his father since 2016. Despite the negativity associated with his father -- including decades-old rumors that he was involved in the murder of Tupac Shakur -- Knight hopes that his involvement with the show will humanize the infamous Big Suge.
“I’m bringing light to my family name and showing that there’s a different side to my father,” Knight says. “The notorious Suge Knight actually has a beautiful family and is a real good father. People wouldn’t expect that.”
Obviously inspired by his dad’s work ethic, Knight strives to be a boss himself, as is evident in his rapper name: Young CEO Suge.
“I’m doing [the show] for the culture. You have Jay-Z and Suge Knight and Birdman,” Knight says. “I want to be the next-generation boss.”
Besides his budding real estate career, Knight has also started his own independent record label, New Death Row Records, in hopes of continuing his father’s legacy. He says his relationship with the original Death Row Records is on good terms, but he wanted to branch out to “show that I can do this on my own.”
Though Knight infamously came out last year saying that Tupac -- who is his godfather -- is still alive and has been in the studio with him, Knight now says those claims were false but have a larger meaning. “There is actually a real good reason why I said all that,” Knight says. “I address it on the show.”
Knight does, however, have access to unreleased Tupac music that he plans to put out on New Death Row.
Controversy may always surround his namesake, but Knight is learning to embrace it. He’s a big fan of DaBaby’s hit song “Suge,” even though it refers to his father’s violent reputation.
“Honestly, it helped out,” Knight says of the track. “When Straight Outta Compton came out, everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, Suge Knight is so bad,’ and now people are out here singing his name. It happened at the perfect time.”
From the inaugural season of Love & Listings, Knight says fans can expect lots of drama in regards to relationships and money -- but also a realness that has become rare in most reality TV.
“Everybody on the show has a story that viewers can relate to,” Knight says. “Mine happens to be for people who have a parent in jail, grew up with a single mom or dropped out of college.”
Watch a trailer for Love & Listings below and tune in to VH1 on Monday night at 10 p.m. for the first episode.