In a series of unreleased quotes from Suge Knight’s interview with Rolling Stone’s Paul Cantor, the former Death Row Records CEO spoke on Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar, the influence of West Coast rap, and more.
While speaking on the influence of West Coast rap, Knight went on to call out Kris Kross, Da Brat, 50 Cent, and the late Notorious B.I.G. According to Knight, all of the artists mentioned were heavily influenced by the sound coming out of the West Coast at that time.
The former Death Row Records head says he even let Diddy sample The Chronic for Biggie’s Ready To Die at no cost.
“The West Coast has been dry not because the talent hasn’t been there,” said Knight. “You’ve got to let these young guys be them. You got Problem, YG, Joe Moses… you got some real talented [guys]. What usually hurts these guys is that people steal their style and sound before they get famous. The Dogg Pound was coming out, then all of a sudden Kris Kross starting hanging with them and they started rapping like Daz and Kurupt. Da Brat started thinking she was Snoop. That’s how she got on. They’re mimicking the shit that already been done. And not knocking 50 [Cent], 50 came out and had an incredible album, but at the same time 50’s record is all West Coast. If you look at Biggie’s album, Biggie’s album is all West Coast. The first album. When they did the Biggie album, I helped them with that fucking record. I let Puff use every [The Chronic] sample on [Ready to Die], the hottest record of all time, and didn’t charge them. To show some love. Like here. It ain’t shit. We do this shit like we do. I don’t care if it’s a Down South record or East Coast record. If it’s successful, it’s a West Coast vibe.”
In addition to sharing his thoughts on the influence of West Coast rap on people from other regions, Knight also gave props to TDE wordsmith Kendrick Lamar. He referred to K-Dot as an “incredible artist” and said the rapper’s aggressiveness is instilled in him due to the neighborhood he grew up in.
“Kendrick is a dude that’s an incredible artist,” said Knight. “I’m not surprised because he’s from Compton. He grew up in Compton, that’s where he lived at, hung out at, and the guys he hangs with from his neighborhood, is p-folk. So there’s no way it wouldn’t rub off on him. There’s no way that his vision wouldn’t be aggressive or that he wouldn’t have the lyrics he has, if he didn’t grow up there. Kendrick know, anybody from Compton, that’s pretty much saying they’re a Death Row artist. That’s what they grew up to, that’s what they know, that was the people they’re involved with… they mimicked their stuff off of the blueprint I laid down. But Kendrick by far is one of them guys that they can’t fuck with. They can’t fuck with that boy lyrically and they better not sleep. Kendrick got a whole army behind him. He got real love out here.”
Suge Knight’s newly-released interview with Rolling Stone serves as his first official interview in nearly a decade. In the published interview, Knight shared the story of former Def Jam Records execs Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen attempting to convince Snoop Dogg to sign with them in 1992.
“If you're Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen, you can't say ‘[Snoop], you got the best deal in the world,’” he said. “You're gonna say, ‘You got the worst fucked up deal in the world and I can make it better for you.’ And that's what Russell and them did. Russell went to Snoop and flew him to New York and said, ‘I want to do a deal with you for Doggystyle.”