Marion “Suge” Knight, Jr. (a.k.a. Big Suge or Big Simon) is the poster boy for thugged-out rap label CEOs as the founder and CEO of Black Kapital Records and co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records.
Death Row Records rose to dominate the rap charts after Dr. Dre’s breakthrough album The Chronic in 1992. After several years of chart successes for artists including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tha Outlawz and Tha Dogg Pound, Death Row Records fell from grace after Knight’s incarceration on parole violation charges in September 1996.
But what do you know about hip-hop’s Boogie Man?
1. Say My Name…
Marion “Suge” Knight was actually born Marion “Hugh” [like Hefner] Knight. His professional name, Suge, was derived from “Sugar Bear”, his childhood nickname.
2. Team Player
Suge graduated Lynwood High School and got a football scholarship to University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he went on to play college football for several years. After school, he played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams as a replacement player during the 1987 NFL strike.
3. In Da Club
When his NFL dreams didn’t pan out, Suge found work as a concert promoter and a bodyguard for celebrities including Bobby Brown.
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4. Law & Order
Infamous for gracing courtrooms, Suge’s legal problems began way back in 1987 when he faced auto theft, concealed weapon and attempted murder charges, for which he received probation.
5. Ice Ice Baby
Determined not to go to jail, two years later, Knight formed his own music-publishing company, and allegedly made his first big fortune by “convincing” Vanilla Ice to sign over royalties from his smash hit “Ice Ice Baby” to his client, Floyd ‘Earthquake’ Brown. The conflicting story goes that Knight supposedly held Vanilla Ice off of a 20th-floor balcony by his ankles, though in Ice’s version, the threat was simply implied.
6. In Good Hands
Before he was CEO of Death Row Records, Suge formed an artist management company with prominent West Coast hip-hop artists The D.O.C. and DJ Quik as clients.
7. Chip Off the Old Block
Suge has a son named Andrew, born on April 19th, sharing the same birthday as him. He has another son named Taj, and daughters named Posh and Bailei, the latter with R&B singer Michel’le.
8. Gangsta Gangsta
According to N.W.A’s former manager, Jerry Heller, Suge and his henchmen threatened Heller and Eazy-E with lead pipes and baseball bats in order to secure Dr. Dre, Michel’le & The D.O.C.’s release from Eazy’s Ruthless Records. Shortly after, Dre and DOC co-founded Death Row Records in 1991 with Suge, who vowed to make his new label, “the Motown of the ’90s.”
9. In The Club
In 1994, Suge opened a private, by-appointment-only nightclub in Las Vegas called Club 662, supposedly named because the numbers spelled out M-O-B, short for Member Of Bloods, Knight’s alleged gang affiliation, on telephone keypads.
10. Sold Out
Following his bankruptcy filing, the remaining items from Suge’s personal property were auctioned in the first episode of “Storage Wars: High Noon in the High Desert”, which aired on A&E on December 1, 2010.
And while we are on the subject of Cali, see also: