Murder Inc Records
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|Founder||Irv Gotti |
|Distributor(s)||Def Jam, Universal, Universal Motown|
|Genre||Hip hop, R&B, Rap|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||29th Floor, One Worldwide Plaza, Manhattan, New York City, U.S.|
Formation and success (1999–2003)
After helping Def Jam with the success of DMX and Ja Rule, Russell Simmons gave Irv Gotti his own label under Def Jam. While watching Biography on A&E during gangster week, a Murder, Inc. logo appeared on the screen which gave Irv Gotti an idea what to call his label. He got the inspiration because Murder, Inc. put out hit murders and Irv wanted to put out hit records. In 1999, Murder Inc. released its first album, Venni Vetti Vecci by Ja Rule. The album featured the hit single "Holla Holla" and soon went Platinum in the U.S., which made Ja Rule and Murder Inc. among the most popular artists and labels in the industry, respectively.
In 2000, the label began to associate itself with Lil' Mo, who would record two popular duets with Ja Rule, "Put It on Me" and "I Cry". That same year, Irv Gotti released the first Murder Inc. compilation, Irv Gotti Presents: The Murderers.
Murder Inc. would sign Charli Baltimore and Ashanti during that year. Also in 2001, the label's friendship with Lil' Mo would grow sour as her tracks that were set to be released on Ja's third studio album were cut and/or replaced with other female artists.
This would cause a minor feud with Lil' Mo as she cut ties with the label. The label reached its peak of success from mid-2001 to early 2003. Ja Rule's release of his multi-Platinum-RIAA selling album Pain Is Love was soon followed by Ashanti's multi-Platinum-RIAA selling debut, Ashanti, which broke Guinness World Records and spawned three hit singles on the Billboard charts.
During that year's award shows, Ashanti and Ja Rule both performed numerous times and won big, along with fellow Inc. artists like Charli Baltimore. Charli Baltimore scored two hit singles that year with both Ashanti and Ja Rule ("Down Ass Bitch" and "Down 4 U", also featuring Vita). During this time, Murder Inc. started associating with Nas as he started hinting to signing with the record label and then collaborated with the Inc.'s top two recording artists on several records (such as "The Pledge"). Murder Inc. would even sign Bobby Brown to the label. Ja Rule's next album (The Last Temptation) went Platinum in the U.S.
It is speculated that much of the money involved in starting up the Murder Inc. label came from Irv Gotti and his associates' involvement in crime with ties to former drug kingpin Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff. On January 3, 2003, Murder Inc.'s office was raided by federal agents trying to find evidence that Murder Inc. was funneling and laundering drug money for McGriff.
The Inc. (2003–2008)
On December 3, 2003, Irv Gotti held a press conference about the recent changes at Murder Inc. Ja Rule, Ashanti, Russell Simmons, reps for the Minister Louis Farrakhan and Lyor Cohen were there. At the press conference, Irv Gotti announced that Murder Inc. would be changed to "The Inc." to be marketable after the raid. He also addressed Murder Inc.'s feud with G-Unit and Eminem)). In 2004, Lloyd was signed and released his debut album Southside.
At the end of 2004, they were ordered to leave Def Jam offices while the investigations were on. When the trials began in early 2005, Def Jam made them honor their contracts and release compilation albums; then they were not re-signed.
Murder Inc. spent 2005 and part of 2006 searching for distribution. Lorenzo first went to Lyor Cohen at Warner Bros. Cohen offered a deal that would make Gotti the head of not only Murder Inc., but also Atlantic. In the deal it involved them buying Murder Inc. and Gotti getting paid the same as he did at Def Jam. Murder Inc. then ended talks with Warner as Gotti felt they would not get paid enough money.
Gotti also held short talks with Capitol and Interscope. Although it seemed as if they were going to sign with Atlantic, Universal then offered Gotti a 7-year deal and 50% ownership of his materials and the label along with the job as A&R, a higher-paying role. A portion of the deal was financed by National Talent Agency out of Southern California.
The Inc. would sign on to Universal (like Def Jam, a division of Universal) in early 2006 and soon began releasing music. After settling in at Universal, Lorenzo would sign Vanessa Carlton, who had been recently been recruited by Robert Krout and Christopher Dixon of National Talent shortly before the company's financial contribution.
On August 1, 2007, Ja Rule would return to radio and television on Sucker Free on MTV, where he debuted his single "Uh-Ohhh!!" with Lil Wayne and his return to recording music. Irv Gotti and Eastwood created Murder Inc. West with Eastwood serving as its president and Gotti on A&R. Techniec also signed to the label and was appointed Vice President. Techniec's group Dynamic Certified also signed to the label. Irv Gotti later gave Ja Rule his own label, MPire.
In May 2009, Irv Gotti announced to MTV that he was releasing Ashanti from her contract with Murder Inc. A month later Lloyd—who had been with Murder Inc. for 5 years—asked to be released from his contract. Lloyd cited the need for more control and change as reasons for his departure from the slowly shrinking label. "I'm ready for a change. There's no bad blood. I just feel I need to take more control over my career and get a fresh start. Hopefully Irv can understand my position," Lloyd explained in a press release.
"We find ourselves in limbo for the second time in three years," Henry Lee, Lloyd's manager said in a statement. "It's frustrating to know that opportunities to advance Lloyd's career are out there but we can't exploit them due to our current situation. Even though Lloyd is appreciative of the opportunity that has been afforded him by Murder Inc., he feels it's time for him to move on and seek opportunities that will allow him to build and enhance his brand."
That same year, Ja Rule announced that he was no longer signed to Murder Inc. as well, the same label he had been with since its beginnings in 1997. Ja Rule decided to go independent on his own label, Mpire, which is distributed through Fontana. Although Ja Rule had departed from Murder Inc., he revealed he was still on great terms with Irv Gotti and the two worked together for Ja Rule's next album, Pain Is Love 2. Baltimore soon left the label in 2010 for new opportunities.
Partnership deals (2013–present)
In September 2013, Murder Inc. was relaunched as an umbrella label under Irv Gotti's new label, Visionary. On September 27, Murder Inc. released its first songs in years, Ja Rule's "Fresh Out da Pen" and "Everything", both produced by Murder Inc./Visionary producers Reefa and Myles William.
Feud with 50 Cent and Shady/Aftermath
50 Cent's past with Ja Rule, Irv Gotti, and Murder Inc. had been less than pleasant and once he became big in the industry in 2003, he and G-Unit once again took aim at Murder Inc., Ja Rule, and Ashanti. Due to 50 Cent's rising popularity at the time and Murder Inc. being affected musically due to a federal investigation, much of the public seemingly took 50 Cent's side of the feud. Ja Rule's next album, Blood in My Eye, took aim at 50 Cent and G-Unit but was a commercial and critical disappointment.
Conversely, Ashanti's second album, Chapter II, topped the charts and scored two hit singles, "Rock wit U (Awww Baby)" and "Rain on Me". She received three Grammy nominations in late 2003 for the album. Although still featured on the "Rain on Me" remix with Ashanti and Ja Rule, Charli Baltimore struggled to release her next album, The Diary, before it was eventually shelved.
- Ja Rule (1997–2009, 2010–2013)
- Ashanti (2001–2009)
- Lloyd (2004–2009)
- Charli Baltimore (2001–2003, 2008–2010)
- Vanessa Carlton (2006–2007)
- Black Child (1994–2009)
- Caddillac Tah
- Murder Inc. (1999–2000)
- Christina Milian (2001–2003)
|Venni Vetti Vecci by Ja Rule|
|Irv Gotti Presents: The Murderers by The Murderers|
|Rule 3:36 by Ja Rule|
|The Fast and the Furious (soundtrack) by Various Artists
|Pain Is Love by Ja Rule|
|Christina Milian by Christina Milian|
|Ashanti by Ashanti|
|Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc. by The Inc. Records|
|The Last Temptation by Ja Rule|
|Chapter II by Ashanti|
|Ashanti's Christmas by Ashanti
|Blood in My Eye by Ja Rule|
|Southside by Lloyd
|Concrete Rose by Ashanti|
|R.U.L.E. by Ja Rule|
|Exodus by Ja Rule
|Collectables by Ashanti by Ashanti
|Street Love by Lloyd|
|Heroes and Thieves by Vanessa Carlton|
|The Declaration by Ashanti|
|Lessons in Love by Lloyd|
- "#9: FEDS RAID MURDER INC". XXL.com.
- "Irv Gotti Says Nas May Sign With Murder Inc".
- "Irv Gotti Explains Label's Name Change, Won't Forgive Eminem".
- "Irv Gotti Resurrects Murder Inc. Records - XXL".
- Platon, Adelle. "How Irv Gotti Brought Murder Inc. to 300 Entertainment". Billboard. Retrieved 21 June 2017.