Even when he’s not on the scene, Suge Knight just can’t stay out of trouble. The Death Row Records head honcho’s name came up during an investigation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board into alleged extortion payments by nightlife magnate Sam Nazarian.
The Board was vetting Nazarian, who was attempting to turn his massive success in L.A. into a casino empire, but needed a gaming license to do so. During what was originally expected to be a routine appearance, the Board lived up to its reputation for being extremely thorough.
Nazarian’s personal cocaine use was quickly uncovered. He initially said he had long since given up drugs but, after failing a Board-administered test, he admitted he was still using.
Even worse, his ties to convicted felon Derrick “Smokey” Armstrong were uncovered. Armstrong, who calls himself Nazarian’s “fixer,” allegedly quickly turned from friend to extorter, and about $90,000 of the $3 million paid to Armstrong and his associates ended up in Suge Knight’s hands for reasons that are unclear at press time.
Knight had no comment on the situation, but his friend, entertainment producer Mark Blankenship, called the accusation “a form of profiling and racism.”
Things do not look good for Suge, though. Another person accused of receiving extortion money in the scandal is Hai Waknine, who is a convicted racketeer with a long criminal history dating back to his teens.
In light of all of the chaos, Nazarian has given up all control of his Vegas ventures to his principal investor, Stockbridge Capital. The company’s Executive Managing Director Terry Fancher will be the boss of the hotel plans, and Nazarian has been ousted as chief executive.
Surely it’s small consolation, but Nazarian is in good company. Frank Sinatra was famously stripped of his gambling license back in 1963 for his association with mob boss Sam Giancana. —Shawn Setaro
Diamond District dropped the full stream of their March On Washington Redux LP today. The 13-track collection from Uptown XO, yU and Odisee features a reworking of their album, March On Washington (released just a few months ago, and including some of their best marathon music) by such producers as Large Professor, Apollo Brown, and Nottz. The lyrics are kept in tact while tracks like “Working Weekends” (remixed by Large Pro) re-captures the mood of these times, and cuts like “Ain’t Over” smooth out the urgency of the original (this one done with a touch of Black Milk).
Mello Music Group has also made it available for purchase via iTunes (support that).—Sia Tiambi
Well, this is awkward. Yesterday (Nov. 10), Young Money rapper Tyga was handcuffed by police officers during a video shoot in South Central LA. According to a report from TMZ, the 24-year-old rapper was pulled over while driving in a Rolls Royce, and was put in handcuffs as a result of reckless driving; a report that has been confirmed by the Los Angeles Police Department.
It’s not clear why Tyga was put in handcuffs, but he was eventually released. His bodyguard on the other hand, was arrested for possession of a gun that was not registered in California.
In a sad bit of news, Common’s father, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn, passed away last Friday at the age of 71. The Chicago-bred MC, who’s real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., broke the news during an interview with ABC where he praised his father for the way he looked at life. “He was truly a natural poet and master of words. His personality and soul shined through his work,” said Common. “The way he said things made me look at life and the world in a new way, in a different way. They always sparked a thought in my head. His words would always make me strive to achieve higher, to write better, to be more truthful with my words.”
Our thoughts are with Common and his family during this difficult time. Rest In Paradise, Pops.
On this day, September 8, in hip-hop history…
2009: The Blueprint 3 was the final installment in Jay Z’s Blueprint trilogy that started with 2001′s instant classic The Blueprint and continued on with The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse in 2002. BP3 was Jay Z’s eleventh studio album and became his eleventh album to debut at number-one in the United States, breaking the record he had previously shared with Elvis Presley. It sold 476,000 copies in it’s first week before topping out at 1.9 million copies sold as of today.
The album is notable for featuring Jay Z’s first single to hit number one on the Billboard 200 charts. “Empire State Of Mind,” an anthemic ode to Jay’s hometown of New York, was the first single to hit that benchmark in a career that dates back to 1989. The song featured singer/songwriter Alicia Keys and name-checks many of the city’s historic landmarks. The album also produced four other singles that produced significant chart success in the months after the album’s release.
Today, The Blueprint 3 is credited as the album that helped transformed Jay Z from mere massive hip-hop star to one of the most recognizable faces on the planet. The success of “Empire State Of Mind” combined with his growing reputation as businessman and mainstream celebrity icon raised his profile significantly (even for him) in the years since the album’s release. The album was his first album to achieve three Billboard Top 10 hits and would receive positive reviews from critics.
After throwing a whole lotta verbal shots at Gillie Da Kid, Soulja Boy has pulled out of the scheduled Vegas boxing match against the Philly MC. According to a press release from Celebrity Boxing, Soulja Boy has been replaced by George “Tailormade” Weisgerber from the VH1 reality TV show, I Love NY.
Weisgerber has said that he will do the match for free and donate any proceeds towards the Hands Up Guns Down Foundation, which was founded by Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Robert Coles. “I want no money for this,” says Weisgerber. “I am a friend and fan of Soulja Boy and I think Gillie Da Kid has taken this too far. I love boxing and I would love to KO. I’m for Soulja Boy. I am bigger than Gilie in the hip-hop community anyway since I won the VH1 show.”
“[I am] very disappointed that Soulja Boy talked a great game but didn’t step up to the plate,” says Celebrity Boxing CEO Damon Feldman.
The fight will now take place Friday, Oct. 17 in a to be determined Philadelphia location.