In 2009, notorious Los Angeles-based label, Death Row Records, was acquired by Toronto’s WIDEawake Entertainment Group for $18 million after facing bankruptcy. Now, the reincarnated label — WIDEawake Death Row Records — is in the process of releasing the classic music stored in its vaults.
WIDEawake/Death Row president John Payne told Vibe that after working to climb out of debt, the label plans to release several albums throughout the year, including a new Tupac Shakur album for the Christmas season. “This is unreleased 2Pac … no remastering or remixing,” Payne said. “The songs are from a collection of tracks that were recorded during his Death Row days around ‘All Eyez On Me.’ I believe that the songs could have been 2Pac’s next record if he were still alive.”
Payne, who has been a part of the Death Row family since his time as a studio engineer for Dr.Dre and Suuge Knight in 1991, says that the label is in the process of rebuilding their reputation via their music. “The good thing about Death Row is the music has always stood the test of time,” Payne said. “You can pick up albums like ‘The Chronic’ and ‘Doggystyle’ and still listen to them. But the problem with the label is people as well as the media have swelled on the negative. It’s kept Death Row in a one-dimensional place. So in order to sell records, they pushed negativity when it wasn’t necessary because the artists were talented enough to let that speak for them.”
2Pac’s last posthumous release was 2006’s ‘Pac’s Life.’ The album commemorated the ten-year anniversary of his death.