Fans may not know the history and controversy around EMPIRE Records. Throughout the years, the record label company released music from various genres by dozens of the most popular artists. After losing seven artists over the past few years, many may wonder: What is EMPIRE Records?
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EMPIRE Distribution has been home to dozens of artists for over two decades.
Here are five things about EMPIRE that music fans may not know:
1. San Francisco Headquarters
EMPIRE Distribution, Records, and Publishing was founded by Ghazi Shami and is headquartered in San Francisco.
They also have New York, Nashville, London, and Atlanta offices.
2. A Hip-Hop-Focused Label
EMPIRE is known for releasing projects from young artists, particularly in hip-hop.
The label was the first to release projects from Trinidad James, Rich Homie Quan, K Camp, and the Migos.
All artists had singles and albums on the Billboard charts.
3. Blackground Records Affiliated
EMPIRE deals with Blackground Records, which re-releases discography, most notably Aaliyah.
4. Top Dawg Entertainment
Nina Etminan, the A&R who helped sign Kendrick Lamar, is also signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, distributed by EMPIRE.
Other artists such as SZA, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul are also signed to Top Dawg Entertainment.
5. 7 EMPIRE Artists Killed
EMPIRE has lost seven rappers since 2018.
These rappers include XXXTentacion, King Von, MO3, Drakeo The Ruler, Young Dolph, and PnB Rock. Another artist that adds to the list is Lil Uzi Vert’s signed rapper Lotta Cash Desoto.
Lotta Cash Desoto was shot and killed in Houston, just one week after PnB Rock’s passing. In the past, other artists that died while on the label included singer Aaliyah and Tupac Shakur.
PnB Rock’s murder shocked hip-hop. After his death, a TikTok video of comedian Katt Williams resurfaced.
The “Pimp Chronicles” comedian brought up insurance policies labels have on rappers and how much money they could make from a rapper’s death.
One speculation on social media circles around a conspiracy that labels kill artists who go independent. PnB Rock released an independent mixtape earlier this month.