13 years ago today, on September 13th 1996, Hip-Hop lost it’s most prominent icon and one of the greatest MC’s of all time, Tupac Amaru Shakur, who died from gunshot wounds suffered during a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, his murder remains unsolved.
25-year-old Shakur helped elevate rap from a crude street fad to a complex art form, setting the stage for the current global hip-hop phenomenon. He left behind the biggest catalogue known to the history of music, with over 1000 unreleased recordings still yet to be heard by the general public. His label Death Row Records, owned by Marion “Suge” Knight, became a 300 million dollar company, whose catalogue includes recordings by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac.
The former powerhouse record label Death Row was on the auction block earlier this year, allowing canadian firm WIDEawake Entertainment Group to purchase the label from bankruptcy for $18 million in January (2009). It now plans what it says will be a “hugely profitable” business strategy for the company, built upon digital and mobile formats, synchronization licensing deals for television and film, and the issuing of previously unreleased material — including songs by Shakur. WIDEawake have the rights to release 13 recordings by Shakur, chosen from a selection unreleased tracks.
Within months of acquiring the company’s somewhat depreciated assets, Lara Lavi, current CEO of WIDEawake Death Row, has already initiated new releases from the label. Amidst praise and neighs alike, on September 1st the first album distributed was a reissue of Dr. Dre’s Chronic, called Chronic Re-Lit which included seven bonus tracks, letting listeners hear a few leftovers from their favourite inmates’ golden years.
WIDEawake Death Row Entertainment look set to continue releasing never before heard music from Death Row. Last week they revealed the track listing for an upcoming Snoop Doggy Dogg album entitled The Lost Sessions Vol. 1, an album that will consist of unreleased tracks from Snoop Dogg, recording during his time on Death Row.
Fans around the world can now log-on at www.deathrowwideawake.com, to discuss and vote for what unreleased recordings they would like to hear from the multi-million dollar catalog, which includes completed album projects from the likes of Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Tha Dogg Pound, Lady of Rage, Crooked I, and even MC Hammer.