Suge Knight: Russell Simmons Tried To Steal Snoop Dogg From Me + More
A month before Snoop Dogg released his first single as a solo artist, “What’s My Name” he was arrested for the murder of Ethiopian immigrant Philip Woldemariam. According to Knight, at the time of Snoop’s September 1993 arrest, only one song had been recorded for Doggystyle and Interscope Records(specifically Jimmy Iovine) were hesitant to assist the unheralded MC. Suge himself even believed Snoop was going to jail:
Everybody thought he was going to go. A few times in court they asked him to stand up, and Snoop would actually get weak in the knees and fall back down. It was a lot of pressure. But it was still good to be able to come through and pull that off for him because it opened it up a bunch of doors and showed the world a different side of rap music.
The trial for the 1993 murder case did not take place until November of 1995, in which time Snoop Dogg had sold over 4 million records and became the hottest rapper in Hip Hop. Knight reveals that Lyor Cohen and Russell Simmons tried to lure Snoop Dogg to Def Jam, before Suge says he had to “literally smash them”:
They figured if they could work it out with Snoop, they could work it out with Jimmy [Iovine], and where that leave me? So then that’s when people turned around and said, ‘Oh, Death Row mothafuckas is some f*cked up motherfuckas, and Suge Knight’s an aggressive mothaf*cka.’ Because somebody had to put their foot so far up Russell’s a*s he thought he was in the hot tub with the guys he usually be with. [Laughs.]
In a 2006 Rolling Stone interview, Snoop claimed Suge attempted to get him murdered while the Death Row boss was in jail serving a nine year bid for a 1997 probation violation. Seven years later and Suge explains that his and Snoop’s relationship has taken a turn for the better:
My relationship with him is where it’s supposed to be. It’s respectful on both ends. I could never turn around and say I hate this mothaf*cka, because he’s a part of my life and I’m a part of his life. There was times starting this business with Death Row that some people were scared to go out of town, scared to go to New York. I’d come grab him, we’d go straight to the airport, just me and him, no entourage, not one person with us. We’d get our room, we’d go hang out, we’d be everywhere. We would go there, post up, enjoy the city, respect the city, and that went so far.
Check out the full interview.