Hip-hop mogul Irv Gotti doesn’t mince words. During Memorial Day weekend, he had a big announcement to make to the hip-hop world. Rather than let a publicist draft up a press release, he shared news on his Instagram that Murder Inc has partnered with 300 Entertainment. “Me. Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles. Back at it again,” he wrote.
In another post, he shared some details of the partnership. Though it is unconfirmed, 300 and Murder Inc likely struck a distribution deal. Representatives for Irv Gotti and 300 did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.
Two artists signed to Murder Inc/300 are Washington D.C.’s own Boogiie Byrd and Atlanta by way of St. Louis duo Fitted Circle. The artists will be featured in an upcoming compilation of songs inspired by Gotti's Tales, a scripted anthology series of “song stories” weaving classic and current hip-hop songs into visually stunning narratives in which he is creator and executive producer.
After nearly a decade, Gotti announced the now defunct label was relaunching with new artists he planned to develop.
“Everyone had a lot of fun,” he wrote. “While I had to regroup from the Feds coming after me. Had to plot and plan and fall back while I watched everyone else eat. I watched gracefully. I applauded and congratulated everyone who deserved it. Never one bone of hate in my body. I love to see my ni**as win and eat. BUT ITS MY TURN NOW!! My Money is right. And I'm back!!”
Since ‘90s nostalgia is a trend now (we're looking at your reunion tours Bad Boy and Ruff Ryders), Murder Inc’s place in hip-hop history is an interesting one. It was the label that made hit records. It was also home to Ja Rule—the flagship artist at the time—Ashanti, Lloyd, Charlie Baltimore, Caddillac Tah, Lil’ Mo, Bobby Brown, Vanessa Carlton, and more.
Some of Murder Inc’s successes include:
- Ja Rule’s career. Venni Vetti Vecci, Rule 3:36, Pain Is Love, The Last Temptation, Blood in My Eye and R.U.L.E. have either gone several times platinum or gold. Irv was eating.
- Ashanti’s career. Ashanti has so many solo classics: “Foolish,” “Happy,” “Rock wit U (Awww Baby),” “Rain on Me,” “Only U.” Duets with Ja: “Always on Time,” “Mesmerize,” “Wonderful,” “Down 4 U.” And must-hear songs: Fat Joe’s “What’s Luv?,” Fabolous’ “Into You,” Lloyd’s “Southside.” Last year, Ja and Ashanti embarked on their Natural Born Hitters tour and appeared on the Hamilton soundtrack for a song called “Helpless.” In short, people still love her.
- The Murda Inc. supergroup that never was. Even though Ja, DMX, and Jay reunited at the final show of Beyonce’s Formation tour in 2016 to tease fans, we’ll probably never know what an album from these guys would sound like. At least we got “It’s Murda.”
Some of Murder Inc’s failures include:
- Ja Rule losing to 50 Cent and G-Unit. This feud damn-near ended his career. To this day, him and 50 are still not on good terms.
- Irv Gotti’s murky relationship with Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, who was once the leader of the Supreme Team. According to MTV, the Supreme Team was “a gang that controlled crack cocaine distribution during the late 1980s in the Baisley Park housing projects of South Jamaica, Queens.” FBI agents and NYPD investigators believed Gotti allegedly had ties to drug trafficking, money laundering, and gang activities. In 2003, they raided Murder Inc’s Manhattan office under a federal probe, which was the start of their decline as Def Jam refused to renew their contracts.
- A failed resurgence. After Ja Rule served time for weapons possession and failing to pay federal taxes, he attempted to restart his music career, but couldn’t get the support he was looking for. Remember that “Uh Oh” record with Lil Wayne? Or did you know he released a sequel to Pain is Love? Yeah, barely anyone did.
Does Gotti have his work cut out for him? As long as Liles and Cohen are in his corner every step of the way, he could get the self-proclaimed "Most Dangerous Label" popping again. But he’s going to have to sign some heavy hitters—maybe even get a few artists from the original roster back—if anyone is going to pay attention to The Inc. And if his new artists miraculously pop, we’re in an oversaturated music market where streaming is king and unpredictability garners excitement. Irv needs to be innovative, break rules, and stay ahead of the game for a Murder I-N-C revival to happen in 2017.