Suge Knight says that then-Def Jam Recordings executives Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen tried to get Snoop Dogg to sign with them after the 1992 release of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic album, as per rollingstone.com.
“If you’re Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen, you can’t say ‘[Snoop], you got the best deal in the world,’” Knight says, as per rollingstone.com. “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.
“They figured if they could work it out with Snoop, they could work it out with Jimmy [Iovine, then head of Interscope Records], and where that leave me?” Knight continued. “So then that’s when people turned around and said, ‘Oh, Death Row mothafuckas is some fucked up motherfuckas, and Suge Knight’s an aggressive mothafucka.’ Because somebody had to put their foot so far up Russell’s ass he thought he was in the hot tub with the guys he usually be with. [Laughs.] We had to go out there and literally smash them. If not, they’d take your shit. I still give Snoop the credit. He still sat down with Death Row and we made it happen. We all more mature now.”
Snoop Dogg signed with Death Row Records and the company released his debut album, Doggystyle, in 1993. Knight said that even though Snoop Dogg was featured prominently throughout The Chronic and on its singles, Interscope Records employees were indifferent toward Snoop Dogg.
“When The Chronic was out, even Snoop will tell you, if he came on the Interscope side, he didn’t see Jimmy [Iovine] any of those guys call Snoop in the office, chop it up with him… because he wasn’t the one,” Knight says. “And then when Doggystyle came out, shit, he couldn’t walk in there without them trying to give him some weed.”
Snoop Dogg left Death Row Records after the release of his second album, 1996’s Tha Doggfather. Knight was incarcerated at the time and Snoop Dogg signed with Master P’s No Limit Records.
For several years starting in the late 1990s, Knight and Snoop Dogg disparaged each other publicly. The two reconciled more than a year ago.
“My relationship with him is where it’s supposed to be,” Knight says. “It’s respectful on both ends. I could never turn around and say I hate this mothafucka, because he’s a part of my life and I’m a part of his life. There was times starting this business with Death Row that some people were scared to go out of town, scared to go to New York. I’d come grab him. We’d go straight to the airport, just me and him, no entourage, not one person with us. We’d get our room. We’d go hang out. We’d be everywhere. We would go there, post up, enjoy the city, respect the city, and that went so far. Therefore, I owe a lot of credit, and a lot of other people owe a lot of credit, because if Snoop’s not gonna hit the road with me and hit all those spots, I couldn’t have did it, because I’m the business man. I’m not the artist, I’m not the talent. And pretty much everyone else was scared to go.”