Published Jan 16, 2009A Canadian entertainment company is the proud new owner of Death Row after buying the notorious hip-hop label for $18 million in an auction Thursday (January 15). With its winning bid, Toronto-based WIDEawake Entertainment Group beat out competitors Warner Music Group and Conquest Media Group to secure the rights to Death Row's catalogue, which includes piles of released and unreleased recordings by the likes of Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg.
As previously reported, the troubled label's asset were auctioned off as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding after a previous winning bidder failed to secure financing to purchase Death Row.
WIDEawake, which was founded in 2006 and has only one recording to its credit, has had little experience in the U.S. marketplace, Billboard reports, and in fact does not have a distribution deal in place south of the border. However, founder and CEO Lara Lavi said the label has been in contact with several U.S. companies to try to ensure Americans will still have domestic access to Death Row's catalogue.
"We have some ideas," Lavi told Billboard of the company's US distribution plans. "We're very respectful of Death Row's legacy and when the time is right we'll announce that."
Lavi went on to say that she is not worried about any potential beef between WIDEawake and Death Row co-founder Suge Knight, who according to some insiders believes the label is still rightfully his. "He's moved on," she said. (When Lydia Harris, who helped found Death Row, was awarded a $107-million settlement after she sued Knight in 2007, he said: "You dead, bitch.")
While WIDEawake did pay $18 million for Death Row, many creditors emerged from the auction more than a little disgruntled, saying that the price was too low and meant they would receive little or no money they were owed by Death Row, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2006.
"This was all a scam from the beginning," Harris, who's also a unsecured creditor, told Billboard. "Everyone wanted me to bring judgment down, and so I brought on the case. But now I'm not getting paid because I'm an unsecured creditor? Yet, administrators are getting paid and Suge [Knight]'s bills are still getting paid? If it wasn't for me no one would be getting money. They made sure it happened this way because I was the biggest creditor. There must be some internal thing going on and I'm obviously not in on it."
There is no word yet on when WIDEawake will start releasing Death Row's catalogue.
D.L. Hughley interviews Suge Knight