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Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Hip-hop boss to leave jail
Hip-hop star Tupac Shakur, who was killed in 1996
Tupac Shakur was signed to Knight's Death Row label
The hip-hop world is preparing itself for the release of one of its most successful and notorious moguls, Marion "Suge" Knight, from state prison next week.

Knight, head of Death Row records, will leave Mule Creek State Prison near Sacramento, California, on 25 April, after four years behind bars.

He is one of those executives that will be written about in history books

Kevin Liles
Def Jam/Def Soul
He was famed for turning Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur and Dr Dre into superstars, and was jailed for getting into a brawl while on probation.

He will be taken to a federal halfway house or work-release facility for two months before being fully released.

Knight has remained head of Death Row and was a central figure in the booming American hip-hop scene before his imprisonment.

"Jail's given me time to put things in perspective," he told Newsweek magazine.

"Before I came in, I hung out at clubs all the time, spent a lot of time on the streets. When I get home, that's going to change. I'll be handling my business, making sure it's back on top."

Death Row records
Death Row became the home of gangsta rap
He was jailed in October 1996 following his involvement in a fight with a rival gang just hours before Tupac Shakur, who was signed to Death Row, was killed in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting.

Knight was driving Shakur's car at the time and was shot in the head. He was also on probation for assaulting two musicians in 1994.

He turned Death Row into one of the major forces in American music in the 1990s, but often became involved in hip-hop's gangland disputes.

A federal grand jury has been probing Knight and his label for allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering for the last five years.

Mass audience

Death Row has just had a number one hit in America with Shakur's posthumous Until the End of Time album.

The label launched Dr Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg to a mass audience, although they have now both left the label.

Dogg is reported to be fearful of Knight's release. "What I'm supposed to do? Go hide?" he was quoted as saying.

Kevin Liles, president of hip-hop label Def Jam/Def Soul, said: "I expect [Knight] to do what he did previously which was to find great talent, build superstars and incorporate a lifestyle in the label.

"He is one of those executives that will be written about in history books."

See also:

03 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Rappers lead Grammys list
14 Mar 01 | Entertainment
US music fans prefer rap to country
17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Puff Daddy's life of rhyme
20 Nov 00 | Africa
Hip hop 'comes home'
17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Puff Daddy cleared of gun charges
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