Snoop Dogg has acquired the Death Row Records brand from the Blackstone-controlled MNRK Music Group (formerly eOne Music), it was announced Wednesday (Feb. 9).
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source tells Billboard the agreement on the use of the Death Row brand – including the label’s IP, trademark, name and logo – has been finalized, while the purchase of the Death Row recording catalog is expected to close soon.
“I am thrilled and appreciative of the opportunity to acquire the iconic and culturally significant Death Row Records brand, which has immense untapped future value,” said Snoop Dogg in a statement. “It feels good to have ownership of the label I was part of at the beginning of my career and as one of the founding members. This is an extremely meaningful moment for me … I’m looking forward to building the next chapter of Death Row Records.”
“Snoop is clearly the executive to take Death Row into its next 30 years,” added Chris Taylor, MNRK Music Group’s president & CEO. “MNRK has been honored to oversee this legendary brand over the last decade and enjoyed introducing it to millions of new fans in 2021 through our award-winning 30th anniversary marketing campaign.”
Blackstone senior managing director David Kestnbaum added that the global investment firm is “excited to put the Death Row Records brand back in the hands of a legend like Snoop Dogg. We wish him success in the years ahead as the brand moves forward under his leadership and vision.”
Founded in 1992 by Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, The D.O.C. and Dick Griffey, Death Row released Snoop Dogg’s first two albums: the seven-times platinum Doggystyle in 1993 and the two-times platinum Tha Doggfather in 1996. Other iconic album releases on the label included Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.
The acquisition comes ahead of the release of Snoop Dogg’s next album, B.O.D.R., which is slated for release on Friday. The rapper is also slated to perform alongside Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Mary J. Blige at the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Once the premier label of the ‘90s West Coast hip-hop scene, Death Row’s fortunes began to crumble late in the decade following the murder of 2Pac, the departures of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and the imprisonment of its co-founder and CEO Knight. In 2006, the label declared bankruptcy following a slew of legal troubles, including a lawsuit brought by “silent” Death Row co-founder Lydia Harris that resulted in a $107 million judgment being awarded in Harris’ favor.
Death Row was eventually sold to Toronto-based development company WIDEawake Entertainment Group at auction for $18 million in 2009. When WIDEawake declared bankruptcy in 2012, Death Row was acquired by eOne (then known as Entertainment One). In 2019, eOne was acquired by Hasbro.
Last April, Blackstone purchased eOne Music (which was rebranded as MNRK Music Group in September) for $385 million. The acquisition included Death Row, Dualtone Records, Canadian label Last Gang Records and the production music operation Audio Network, among others.
This is a developing story.