Dr. Dre Parts Ways With Death Row—Today in Hip-Hop
On this day, March 22, 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 Tupac Shakur.
However, in 1996, just months after Death Row signed Shakur, Dr. Dre split with the label over a contract dispute. Dre would go on to partner with Interscope Records' Jimmy Lovine to found Aftermath Records.
As we all know, Dre and Jimmy's new label was a runaway success, starting with the compilation album Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath and an album from rap supergroup The Firm, which consisted of Nas, AZ, Nature and Foxy Brown. Aftermath signed Eminem in 1998, he dropped his major label debut The Slim Shady LP in 1999 and took off from there. Em lead to the signing of 50 Cent, another rap superstar. Scooping up The Game, Kendrick Lamar, and more just sealed the deal, and made Aftermath one of the most successful rap labels ever.
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