Rap has always been a form of music that has touched people.And not necessarily in good ways.World wide rap artists are at the same celebrity level as movie stars, pop and rock stars and celebrities who are popular for being, well popular. Its influence has spread from the streets of America, to the suburbs, to continents across the world. Rap hasn’t only just been music but a culture. It has spread from music and lyrics to fashion, language and mindset. Two labels in the history of rap have had complete domination of rap changing the “game forever” with their culture shocking artists. They are Death Row Records of the 1990s and Present day’s Young Money/Cash Money Entertainment.
In 1991, Death Row Records was started by a disgruntled artist and a former bodyguard. The artist, A little known rapper and producer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, who was the driving force of a label that housed his band N.W.A (otherwise known as Niggas With Attitude) ran by his band mate and friend Eazy E. When he grew disillusioned with the label they parted ways. He was then approached bySuge Knight, a mammoth of a man who had served for several artists over the years and decided to start his own label. After getting the backing from some shady people(and no not the “Slim Shady” type) these two went on to forge one of the strongest labels not only in terms of a rap label but of any music label of their times. Known for the strong arm tactics of Knight and the creative genius of Dre, Death Row Records went on to launch little known artists and turn them into global icons, artists such as the aforementioned Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg.
These also had the clout of established artists like TLC’s “Lisa Left Eye” Lopes and perhaps raps greatest iconTupac Amur Shakur. In similar fashion Young Money/Cash Money Entertainment was started between the years of 2006 and 2007 by a rap artist who was yet to really launch his career as a true global icon, Lil Wayne and his friend and fellow artist Mack Maine. Lil Wayne like Dr. Dre, a popular figure in the hip-hop world was raved about by underground critics but hadn’t reached mainstream glory yet.But then all of a sudden the man with his signature whiney voice was featuring big time artists all over the music seen. His career really took off with the release of his The Carter III he was soon taking over music with his entourage of artists were making waves in the music biz.
There are many similarities between the rise to power of Death Row Records and Young Money/Cash Money Entertainment. Young Money Like Death Row, it was started by an artist who was respected within his circle of peers but hadn’t reached mainstream success as yet. Both of these artists went on to release albums that would achieve mainstream success, Dr. Dre’s The Chronicand Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III,and both sold better than many of the pop/rock releases of their year. Another similarity is that both men used their new found stardom to release work by their protégé’s. Like Dr.Dre did with Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne released a hot new act by the name of Drake. Though both men shared a similarity in style, unlike his short, dreadlock wearing, tattooed master, Drake is a clean cut rapper from the suburbs of Canada and almost has gentlemen’s swagger towards himself, representing the new generation of rappers. Another area of common ground between the two labels is that both own the signature of influential female rapper. Death Row signed TLC’s Left Eye just before she passed away in a car accident. Young Money has what some could say is one of the most hyped female rappers ever, young Trinidadian Nicky Minaj.
Even with all the similarities between the too labels, there are a lot of differences. Unlike Death Row, who were renowned for their use of strong-arm and dirty tactics by Suge Knight, Young Money/Cash Money has used clever business savvy to get ahead and almost an academy of young up-and-coming artists keep things fresh. Where Death Row was famous for its feud with East Coast record label Bad Boy Records owned by then named Puff Daddy (now called Diddy Dirty Money, Diddy or Puff, I’m sure there is more though). Unlike Death Row, Young Money/Cash Money have stayed away from “beefs” with other labels and have moved away from signing territorially, signing artists from everywhere.
Differences aside, it is quite evident that their greatest similarity is how both have come out of the proverbial woodwork to bomb the rap and music seen and to subsequently take over. Like Death Row’s artists changed music in the 1990s and early 2000s, the new kids on the block are bridging gaps in rap and music that will be felt forever. The only question is will they be able to carry on from where Death Row Records left off, will they like their great predecessors just wither and die?