Reeling and Dealing

"Suge" Knight is behind bars, Tha Doggfather is on the shelves, and the future of Death Row Records hangs in the balance

The district attorney's office has removed Longo from the case and last week turned over an internal investigation to the state attorney general's office. The original judge in Knight's case, John Ouderkirk, citing "the specter of criminal charges, including conspiracy, bribery, extortion and obstruction of justice," recused himself from the case out of concern he might be called as a witness in future proceedings. The state attorney general is waiting in the wings, poised to take over prosecution if further developments render the Los Angeles district attorney's office incapable. The new judge, J. Stephen Czuleger, is already disgusted. "The stink is out there," he said in court.

Apparently fed up with Death Row's "image problem," Interscope Records, the major-league distributor for Knight's label, is scrambling to put distance between itself and the controversial rap indie. Industry sources say the label is trying to cut a deal to transfer distribution of Death Row product entirely to MCA.

Meanwhile, while Suge Knight waits in jail, Sharitha Knight has helped guide Snoop Doggy Dogg's pending reemergence as his personal manager. "It's a relationship we've had for four years now," she explains. "It's worked well."

She is expecting Snoop's return to generate enthusiasm similar to that which greeted his first album in 1993. Doggystyle entered the charts at No. 1, and went on to sell four million copies--generating a buzz of acclaim and disdain that hit magazine covers from Rolling Stone to Time.

"We're very confident, and we've got lots of plans," Sharitha says. "Snoop starts a European tour in London on December 2. There will be United States concerts, too, but we're waiting a little bit before making them definite. After the album takes off, we'll be able to get better prices from promoters."

Snoop never toured in support of his first album (see Coda on page 102), primarily because he was a murder suspect before it hit the charts. "People talk so much about how that case helped Snoop, how he took advantage of it, but that wasn't the situation," Sharitha Knight says. "It kept him from touring, prevented him from recording, and hurt his reputation. It's going to be a lot better for all of us this time.

"There's a lot going on, and Suge's involved in all of it. He's got good people, loyal and competent, working for him. If you know Suge, you know he's got everything under control."

David Holthouse contributed to this report.

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