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Title: Welcome To Death Row

Year Of Release: 2001

Review Date: January 19, 2007

Rating: Not Rated

Running time: 104

Box Office Gross: DVD sold over 400,000 copies.

Recommendation: Contains a lot of profanity and other drug related subject matter not suitable for all audiences.

Site Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

The tagline of this film rings true, "It started in Compton. It ended in infamy." Welcome to Death Row exposes the ugly underbelly of the music industry and a company, Death Row Records, that was built on corruption and violence.

Michael "Harry O" Harris (left), Lydia Harris (Center)

The movie alleges that Death Row Records, founded in 1991, was built on drug money via a $1,000,000 loan from incarcerated drug dealer Michael "Harry O" Harris. The illegal funds were allegedly given to Death Row CEO Suge Knight and label producer Dr. Dre via Harry O's wife, Lydia Harris.

Knight allegedly extricated Dr. Dre from his former record and production deal with the late rapper Eazy E's Ruthless Records, via bats, pipes and threats of violence. This reportedly cleared the way for Dr. Dre to work solely with the newly founded Death Row Records.

Tupac (left), Snoop Dogg (center) and Suge Knight (right)

RISE AND FALL OF DEATH ROW

Death Row Records had many million selling hits by artists like Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and a just released from jail, Tupac. However, Suge ultimately proved to be Tupac's undoing.

A fight in a hotel/casino instigated by Suge and backed up by Tupac, later lead to him being killed via a angry gang member that was beaten in the aforementioned hotel/casino lobby. Said gang member later drove up next to them at a traffic stop and opened fire.

Tupac was rushed to the hospital with life threatening injuries. It was said that at one point he came out of the coma he was in, then slipped back in it. His mother, regrettably, then decided to pull the plug. 

I always say rappers who try to live out that gangster life they propose on record, usually end up falling because of it.

For years I've also thought, had Suge left Tupac in prison, he'd probably be alive today. He would have served his time, gotten out of jail and resumed his life with less violent influences.

Once Tupac signed with Death Row, his music took a dark turn. It went from semi-uplifting songs like "Keep Your Head Up" to dark and violent tracks like "2 Of America's Most Wanted."

TALES OF VIOLENCE AND FINANCIAL IMPROPRIETY

Artists such as Warren G stated they were assaulted by Suge Knight and subsequently left the label as a result. Dr. Dre spoke of an incident in the studio that prompted him to leave, when he witnessed an engineer getting beaten for "rewinding the tape too far." Violence was clearly the order of the day. 

Snoop Dogg later left as well. It was said Tupac was about to leave too before he was murdered.

It was said that Tupac was owed $20,000,000 in royalties and that each time he inquired about it or complained he was sent another car, that wasn't even in his name, but Suge's. It is also said the Woodland Hills, California home Tupac lived in was not his either. He was being robbed.

DEATH ROW IMPLODES

After leaving Ruthless, little did Dr. Dre know, it was as though he was going on death row, as what ensued contained tales of violence, murder, death threats, corruption, fraud, bribery, extortion, misappropriation...and IRS investigations that ultimately saw him leave the label he co-founded, with no where near what he was supposed to receive in the way of financial compensation.

The IRS investigated and incarcerated Suge Knight on tax evasion charges. He is also a suspect in the commissioned killing of rapper Biggie Smalls and the murder of his ex-wife's boyfriend. The web site Crime Library has a page on Knight that is quite disturbing.

INDUSTRY DISHONESTY

The film has a telling scene were Tupac expresses his disgust at producer Dr. Dre for having ghostwriters/producers in the studio recording music that he, Dre, would later take credit for to the public.

Dre has also been sued by numerous writers, including George Lucas, for copyright infringement in stealing items from their intellectual property.

This is a common, dishonest practice in the entertainment industry that many producers and artists from Madonna to Beyonce indulge in to maintain a certain image to the press and public.

And when they see something they like that does not belong to them, they simply take it, like criminals, as copyright infringement is not only a violation of domestic law, but ratified international U.N. treaties as well.

INDUSTRY ORGANIZED CRIME

Lydia Harris

As mentioned above in the movie details, the documentary sold over 400,000 copies worldwide, but Lydia Harris alleges she has not seen the profits from it, being a co-partner in the production. Harris also says she did business with corrupt companies like Interscope and Maverick Records, who robbed her.

It's not so hard to believe. The U.S. entertainment industry is home to some of the biggest criminals in the world, who violate the law everyday.

From the major labels to many famous artists, the entertainment industry has been based on and continues to operate on the principles of organized crime. This film is only more proof of that undeniable fact.

Will the FBI ever clean it up. That remains to be seen. There is a general government reluctance to arrest the famous and wealthy in Hollywood, which is why crime thrives in the manner in does in the entertainment industry.


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