Look, at some point in your life, you’ve looked one of your friends in the eyes and said “keep it real.” The difference between you, or your friend, and a certain 49-year-old record company mogul is that you haven’t been implicated in more crimes than your average gangsta rap album espouses.
Yes, Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr., kingpin of the prophetically, self-fulfillingly named Death Row Records, reportedly has struck again. As in, struck a dude, with his car, until he was dead. Apparently, according to bastion of journalism TMZ, Ol’ Sugar Bear—that’s what Suge is short for; sweet, eh?—was on set in Los Angeles for a promotional shoot for the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton when he wound up in a fight with two crew members. One thing led to another, and Knight decided to get literally straight outta Compton, reversing into two men, one of whom reportedly died.
While Knight’s beleaguered lawyer negotiates with the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department for a peaceful surrender, and new details continue to no doubt percolate through the Internet rumor machine, we decided to take a stroll down memory lane and recollect some of Knight’s greatest hits. And we don’t mean the ones he produced for Dr. Dre. At least not that we know of.
October 1987. A busy month for a burgeoning businessman. Knight was arrested for domestic violence, for allegedly slicing off his girlfriend’s pony tail, and then on Halloween was picked up for stealing a car, carrying a concealed weapon, and, naturally, attempted murder. Because A+B+C=Of course he did (allegedly!).
1990. September 21, Suge pleaded guilty to battery. Then on Halloween—Knight apparently went all out with his trick-or-treating—pleaded no contest to another battery charge.
1991-ish. Rumor has it that Knight suspended a hapless Vanilla Ice over a balcony—by the ankles—to force him to sign over rights to Ice’s hit “Ice Ice Baby,” which was co-written by a client of Knight’s music-publishing business. While Ice has since denied the claim, he did indeed sign, and as such is now playing himself on various low-budget reality TV shows.
1992-1995. Charged with assault and battery after reportedly pointing a gun at and beating two men who disrespected him at Solar Records’ recording studio. The case would drag on for three years, with Knight defended in part by none other than Johnnie Cochran. Despite his long rap sheet—and, legend has it, thanks in part to offering recording contracts to prosecuting attorney’s relatives—the hot-headed CEO received a five-year suspended sentence and a month in a halfway house.
1996. September 7. On the heels of his 1990’s slacker reputation, Knight eventually was sentenced to nine years in prison after cameras at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel caught him and several associates, including rapper Tupac Shakur, beating a rival gang member. Just hours later Shakur was shot, dying on September 13. After serving five years of his sentence, Knight was released in 2001. Shakur’s murder remains unsolved, the focus of multiple conspiracy theories, and the basis of a very weird CIA Tweet.
1997. East coast rapper Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace was shot and killed at an event in L.A. Even though he was in jail, Knight was a major suspect, with avenging Shakur’s death seen as an alleged motive.
2002. Just days before Christmas all was not merry, as Knight violated his parole and was convicted of “consorting with a gang member,” leading to 61 days in jail for him.
2003. This seems to be a man who hates his freedom. Soon after his release, Knight roughed up a parking lot attendant in L.A. With the rapper convicted, yet again, of assault, it was back in the pokey for 10 more months.
2005. February 5. Busted for weed after being pulled over for an illegal U-turn, our hero had fate smile on him and he was charged with only a moving violation and operating sans insurance, though he did spend about a week in jail. Come August, and Knight would be shot in the leg at a Kanye West’s pre-VMA party, where he also claimed to have been robbed of a $147,000, 15-carat diamond earring. Knight filed suit against West in 2009 as part of Knight’s bankruptcy proceedings. This year Knight also was ordered to pay $107 million to former partners in his now defunct Death Row Records.
2008. August 27. In the heat of the summer, and his temper, Knight was busted for beating his girlfriend, as well as for Ecstasy, pharmaceuticals, and waving a knife around outside a Vegas strip club. Charges were dropped when the young lady in question, one Melissa Isaac, “mysteriously” vanished and couldn’t testify, reportedly leading the quixotic ex-con to quote, “God is good, Happy Holidays.”
2009. March 25. Five men broke into musician Akon’s producer’s home, reportedly claiming he owed Knight money, and stealing $170,000 worth of jewels, stereo gear, and a 130-pound safe. Rumors swirled that it was retaliation from Knight’s being on the receiving end of a pummeling back in February at a basketball event at the behest of Akon. Knight was implicated, but not charged. Again, rumors tangentially connected Knight’s 2014 shooting at—again—a VMA pre-party.
2010. December. Arrested while hanging at an L.A. shopping mall for failure to appear in court on a traffic violation.
2012. February 8. Once again cruising Vegas, Knight was busted on prior outstanding traffic warrants and possession of a “controlled non-medical substance” when weed was found in the car.
2013. September 11. Arrested and held on $20,000 bail in L.A. for a misdemeanor traffic violation, which led to his being detained on an outstanding warrant.
2014. On September 5, Knight and pal Katt Williams were accused of snatching and stealing a camera from a photographer in Beverly Hills. Knight would go on to be apprehended in Vegas on October 29. He was scheduled to appear in court just days ago, on January 27. If convicted, the ex-mogul/continual con faces 30 years in prison. He is out on half a million dollars’ bail.