For the past 20 years, few men have cast a shadow over the music industry that looms quite as large as Marion “Suge” Knight’s. The former college football player and bodyguard is a co-founder of Death Row Records. Knight has been a driving force in establishing the West Coast rap scene, teaming with rapper/producer Dr. Dre to promote heavyweight artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.
In the rap world, Knight is as famous as he is notorious; as respected as he is feared. His reputation is constructed partly from myths and conspiracy theories surrounding the murders of Shakur and rival rapper Notorious B.I.G., and partly from numerous run-ins with the law over the past 25 years.
In 1987, Knight pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon, and in 1990 to two separate battery charges. He later received probation and a nine-year suspended sentence for another weapon-related assault charge in 1992, a sentence that was later imposed after he was convicted of assaulting a rival gang member at the MGM Grand in 1996. Knight served five years in prison.1