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Suge Knight blames Dr Dre for hit and run death, claims he’s due cut of Beats sale money

By | Published on Tuesday 25 October 2016

Suge Knight

Few stories involving Suge Knight are ever dull. The one-time hip hop mogul has claimed that he is due 30% of the money Dr Dre earned from Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of the Beats company. Oh, and that efforts by Dre to keep Knight at a distance in no small part led to the death of Terry Carter, over which Knight is now battling murder charges.

We know all this because of a new lawsuit filed by Knight who, of course, co-founded Death Row Records with Dre in 1991, which then released the latter’s debut solo album the following year. It was a relatively short-lived business partnership though, Dre famously quitting Death Row in 1996 to launch his own rival label.

The new lawsuit brings together a little bit of that hip hop history with much more recent events. First of all, Knight alleges that, despite their working relationship ending acrimoniously in 1996, he had a lifetime management agreement with Dre meaning that he is due 30% of the rapper-producer’s earnings in perpetuity, which would include 30% of all that Beats dosh.

With Knight seeking to enforce that alleged arrangement following the big Apple/Beats deal, he says that Dre and his business partners hired a man called Cle Sloan to “handle the Suge Knight problem”.

It was an altercation between Knight and Sloan on the set of NWA biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton’ that led to the incident from which Knight’s murder charges stem. Outside a burger bar nearby the film set Knight drove his vehicle towards Sloan and one of his associates, Terry Carter. Carter was then hit by the vehicle and killed.

In addition to the criminal proceedings around that incident, Knight and various other people have been sued by Carter’s widow, although Dre was recently removed as a defendant on that case. However, Knight argues that it was Dre’s actions that led to the run in between him and Sloan that in turn resulted in Carter’s homicide.

In his countersuit to the legal action being pursued by Carter’s widow, Knight alleges that Sloan wasn’t just hired to keep him away from Dre as prep for the release of the big NWA movie got underway. Actually, he claims, the intent was to use Sloan to pressure Knight into waiving his rights under the alleged management contract. This would reduce Dre’s financial commitments to his former business partner, and ensure that Knight had no formal links to the Apple deal, Dre’s new corporate allies not keen on having direct links to the former Death Row boss.

Or, in the words of the lawsuit itself, according to Rolling Stone: “Apple and [Dre] developed a mutually agreeable scheme that would result either in Knight relinquishing his rights under the management contract or [Dre] gaining the appearance of legal separation from Knight and the management contract through bankruptcy filings”.

To that end, it is alleged, Universal Music, as producer of the NWA biopic, “provided [Dre] with capital, employees and the staging area through which to intimidate Knight and to ensure that Knight relinquished his right in the management contract payouts”.

Knight then adds that he is at “an extreme disadvantage in defend[ing] himself or prosecuting his claims herein because portions of the evidence that would help Knight prove his claims are sealed by protective order”.

Which might all sound a bit far-fetched, though Knight also claims that Dre hired the man who shot him multiple times at a Chris Brown party ahead of the VMAs in 2014, so it’s not even the most dramatic of the allegations contained within the lawsuit.

Knight’s lawyer Thaddeus Culpepper says that the new legal filing “explains what happened to Suge in the past year and a half”. Knight, who is pleading not guilty in the murder case, argues that Carter was killed by accident as he tried to escape Sloan, who was targeting him at Dre’s request.

The new lawsuit, Culpepper tells Rolling Stone, provides the context for that incident. Knight isn’t just “a crazy man” who “ran some people over”, he adds, there was a reason for the events that led to Carter’s death and “we think we set it out pretty well”.

Needless to say, legal reps for Dre are having none of it. Responding to the new litigation, they simply remark that: “Given that Dre has had zero interaction with Suge since leaving Death Row Records in 1996, we hope that Suge’s lawyer has lots of malicious prosecution insurance”.

Like I say, never dull.