Dr. Dre Wants Death Row Books
Andre Young, aka Dr. Dre, is seeking the books of Death Row Records Inc. to determine how much the record company owes him for unpaid royalties from sales of “The Chronic,” which was released in 1992. Young informed the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles that he wants to determine the value of a claim he holds against Death Row for unpaid royalties accruing after the record label’s bankruptcy filing. Dre seeks permission to obtain this information under Rule 2004 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which allows bankruptcy judges to order companies to turn over documents related to their assets, liabilities and financial affairs.
Dr. Dre has tried to sue the record label for royalties on several occasions but has suffered some setbacks recently. Last month, a California district court agreed to hear his appeal of the bankruptcy court’s dismissal of one of those suits. The documents that Young’s requesting include those with information related to contracts between him and the record label, revenue from the sale of his recordings and agreements to release his recordings as part of compilation albums.
He asked the bankruptcy court to make Death Row hand over the documents on Feb. 29 and to order its representatives to be available for deposition on March 7. Young, who co-founded Death Row in 1991 with Marion “Suge” Knight and initially held a 50 percent ownership stake in the label, granted Death Row a license to distribute this album in exchange for royalties. In 1996, Young agreed to surrender his ownership interest in the label but retained his right to continue to receive royalties for all recordings released prior to the agreement. Young has argued that Death Row hasn’t lived up to its end of the bargain and further broke the contract by granting another company distribution rights to his recordings.
The court-appointed administrator running the record label’s bankruptcy estate recently asked to sell Death Row’s music-related assets to Warner Music Group Corp. for $25 million, subject to higher bids at auction. The sale includes “The Chronic” as well as several compilation albums featuring Dr. Dre’s recordings, and Young also wants access to documents related to the marketing and sale efforts. Death Row Records filed for Chapter 11 protection in April 2006, after struggling for several years amidst Knight’s stints in prison. The label was also home to rappers Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.