It's hard to even write this: Toronto-based Death Row Records announced today that the company will be issuing a sampler in conjunction with National Record Store Day, which takes place around the country on April 18. The label, founded in LA by Dr. Dre and Suge Knight, released some of the most important rap albums of the 1990s before crashing/burning in a much publicized, and prolonged, fall.

At the beginning of 2009, Death Row was acquired by Toronto-based WIDEawake Entertainment Group for $18 million. The new owners Suge Knight promptly auctioned off some of the company's more unusual and lucrative knick knacks. WIDEawake went to work planning the return of one of the most storied hip hop labels of the past 20 years. “Only 10% of the music, videos, and artwork of this extraordinary catalog has ever come to market,” claims the company in a new press release. “The company is now free to open these vaults and plans to release the best of the best.”

Up first is a free sampler including, curiously, a new Petey Pablo track called “Pay for the P*ssy.” We say curiously because it's news to us that the North Carolina-born Pablo is affiliated with Death Row. His previous two records, each of which had a few menacing tracks (“Freek-a-Leek” and “Raise Up”), came out on Jive, but his third ended up being shelved. He's now on Death Row and issuing the unfortunately titled “Pay for the P*ssy,” which we're assuming isn't about expensive pure-bred Persian kittens. (For the record, we think Petey's incredibly underrated; he's got the menacing tone of Howlin Wolf, that deep baritone/bass mix that means business.)

Here's the rest of the press release:



(New York, NY) — WIDEawake/Death Row Entertainment LLC announces a hot offer to all rap, urban and hip-hop music lovers. The company has issued a free Death Row “Record Store Day” CD sampler to be given away exclusively at over 750 participating retailers in the U.S. on Record Store Day, April 18, 2009. This special free CD offer is redeemable exclusively on Record Store Day 2009 and at participating Record Store Day retailers only. All three songs are never before heard Death Row music from the Death Row Vault. Fans can then log on to TRYSOMETHINGNEW.TV to download a free ringtone of another unreleased, new song.

The Death Row sampler celebrates the return of one of the most influential music catalogs at retail and features tracks by classic Death Row artists Petey Pablo “Pay for the Pu**y,” Crooked I “Hoodstar” and Danny Boy “Do What You Do.” The CD artwork will include a special link for fans to download an additional free exclusive bonus ringtone and sign up for more info on the new and highly artist and fan friendly Death Row Records.

WIDEawake Entertainment Group acquired the Death Row catalog in early 2009. Only 10% of the music, videos, and artwork of this extraordinary catalog has ever come to market. The company is now free to open these vaults and plans to release the best of the best in North America via its exclusive distribution deal with E1 Entertainment Distribution throughout North America. Forthcoming titles will be officially announced by the label in the near future.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The original post of this contained a factual error. Suge Knight auctioned off old Death Row holdings, not WIDEawake Entertainment. We've corrected the text to fix the error.

LA Weekly