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Probe of Rap Label Looks at Entrepreneur Behind Bars

Music: Inmate says he helped start Death Row Records, which is under FBI scrutiny. Firm's founder denies claim.

September 01, 1997|CHUCK PHILIPS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Harris' wife started a record company earlier this year called New Image Entertainment, whose music is being marketed and promoted through a deal with Acworth, Ga.-based Alexia Records and its distributor Ichiban Records.

Harris says New Image was funded with money generated from a variety of deals his wife has cut over the past four years. Last week, the company released its debut album, "Life after Evolution: Reality Check," a two-CD compilation that showcases a dozen new rap and R&B acts as well as Ms. Lydia.

The album's title track, "Reality Check," features a scathing lyric singling Knight out by name and accusing him of ripping off people who trusted him. The song, performed by rapper Ruff Dogg and the L.A. Grinders, ends with a warning to Knight to prepare himself for a "reality check."

Harris didn't write the song, but he says he likes it.

"The magnitude of what happened at Death Row is pretty deep," Harris said. "Death Row took rap to another level and the benefits bestowed from this venture were many--and many people cashed in. From Interscope to Time Warner to EMI to PolyGram to Universal. In the end, I was the only one denied the fruits of my own creation."

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