Today In Hip-Hop: Dr. Dre Announces Departure From Death Row

On this day, March 20th, in hip-hop history…


1996: Dr. Dre parts ways with Death Row Records. The infamous West Coast label was founded in 1991 by Dre and Suge Knight, then the owner of a music publishing company. Prior to Death Row, Dre had been singed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records as a part of the group N.W.A. Frustrated with Eazy and N.W.A.’s manager Jerry Heller’s business practices, Dre linked up with Knight to start Death Row, with Knight reportedly using strong-arm tactics to appropriate the contracts of Dre, rapper the D.O.C. and singer Michel’le.

Beginning in 1992 with the release of Dr. Dre’s solo debut The Chronic, Death Row enjoyed a successful but short-lived reign at the top of the hip-hop charts. The label later signed artists like Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound and 2Pac. However, in 1996, a year after Death Row signed 2Pac, Dr. Dre split with the label over a contract dispute. Dre would go on to partner with Interscope Records’ Jimmy Iovine to found Aftermath Records.

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