The State Of Bad Boy And Death Row 20 Years Later

In the mid-1990’s, the rap music scene was centered on two dominant forces: the East Coast’s Bad Boy Records and the West Coast’s Death Row Records. But what started as a battle for musical supremacy eventually took a dark turn.

Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the murder of rapper Christopher Wallace, also known as The Notorious B.I.G. At the time, Biggie was one of Bad Boy’s most popular and best-selling artists. Wallace’s murder is believed to have come in response to the slaying of Death Row artist Tupac Shakur less than a year earlier. To this day, both murders remain unsolved.

At the peak of its popularity, Bad Boy Records was named the top record label of the year by Billboard (1995). By 2004, annual sales had declined to below $500 million.

That same year, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs sold half his stake in Bad Boy to Warner Music Group for $30 million. Today, Bad Boy Records is owned by Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE: SNE). The label’s artists include Combs, Machine Gun Kelly and Cassie.

Following Shakur’s murder, Death Row Records began its slow decline as well. After judge ruled in 2005 that founder Marion “Suge” Knight owed more than $100 million in royalties, Knight was forced to declare bankruptcy. Death Row’s assets were sold to Global Music Group in 2008 for $24 million. The company’s assets are currently owned by independent record label Entertainment One Music.

The murder of Biggie Smalls 20 years ago today may have done…

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