If you’re a millennial or older who loves hip-hop and/or considers themselves a fan of West Coast rap, East Coast rap or the ’90s hip-hop era altogether, then the name Marion “Suge” Knight should ring a bell.
The former college football player and Compton native turned hip-hop heavyweight rose to fame upon cofounding the infamous record label, Death Row Records with West Coast artists Dr. Dre and The D.O.C. Amidst the success Knight’s record label achieved by housing legendary artists including Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur, the henchman served as one of the main players in the rivalry against the regime of East Coast hip-hop artists Sean Combs (known as “Puff Daddy” at the time), Notorious B.I.G. and the entire Bad Boy Records team.
Considered to be a key piece in solving the murders of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, many believe that Knight, who has been accused of being a catalyst in the murders of both Tupac and Biggie by the LAPD, has withheld valuable information that could help connect the dots in the case.
Now that may change.
According to CNN, recently the 53-year-old Knight plead no contest on the charge of manslaughter "in connection with the death of a man during a hit-and-run incident, after a confrontation on the set of the biopic Straight Outta Compton." With sentencing scheduled for October 4, Knight faces an uphill battle against prosecutors, who are requesting he serve a sentence of 28 years. If Knight were to receive the full 28-year sentence, he would finish serving his time at an elderly 81 years old.
As seen in various cases over the years, occasionally members of gangs or crime mobs who are offered particular incentives, such as a lesser sentence or witness protection, come to grips with the reality of their situation, and as a result, start to backpedal away from their stern allegiance to their units on the outside. Knowing that he may spend the rest of his life in jail, the one question that Knight’s crew, hip-hop fans and investigators all want to know the answer to is: Will Suge share what he knows?
Initially, one might assume that Suge's time in prison, removed from any alleged alliances on the outside, would realign his priorities. However, one could also argue that Suge’s time in prison wouldn't be that much of a change in scenery, as documentaries and numerous testimonies have revealed that gang violence is just as prevalent inside prison as it is outside. Due to members remaining loyal to their creed and finding ways to establish a two-way connection between members on the “inside” and on the “outside,” the difference between the two worlds can be seen as quite gray instead of black or white. Yes, corrections officers regulate the inmates, but prison gangs ultimately dictate the level of criminal activity, along with establishing the inmate's code of conduct.
The odds and offenses against Knight are already stacked tall. In addition to the allegations surrounding the extent to which he may have been involved in Tupac and Biggie’s murders and the manslaughter charge, Knight has a previous crime history that includes assault and robbery charges – offenses that have bolstered his negative reputation. That being said, we’re left to wonder if Suge has considered the backlash he'd receive if he were to make a deal with authorities and ultimately cooperate, in regards to the mysterious murder cases. Now that Suge is older (and hopefully wiser), he may possibly be at a point in life where he sees value in bringing the truth to the light, regardless if that would also mean submitting a personal confession or implicating other key players in the unsolved murders.
Surely Knight knows that corroborating any theories or suspicions the cops may already have about his connection to Tupac and Biggie's deaths could possibly bring harm upon him inside the very prison walls he will walk within. But even if offered a fair deal, one has to wonder if Knight will remain hushed, in fear of making his previous label a reality by establishing a true death row.
So will Suge speak? Only time will tell.