Author Topic: Story About Chris Lighty Signing Warren G And Being Confronted By Suge Knight  (Read 823 times)


I've been listening to this podcast called Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty. It's really interesting and episode 3 even features an interview with Warren G because Chris is the one who signed him to Def Jam. Apparently Chris is the one who heard Warren rapping on Indo Smoke and knew he had the potential to be a star (not just a producer). One of the other things discussed is this story about Chris running into Suge Knight after the fact. I found an article about the incident below.

In 1992, Lyor Cohen employed Lighty’s services in liquidating Rush management, which by then had outlived its usefulness. Around this time, Lighty formed Violator management and secured a production deal with Relativity. Not wanting to lose such a valuable asset to the competition, Cohen, who had begun working for Def Jam full time, gave Chris an offer he couldn’t refuse: work for Def Jam as Creative Chief. Lighty left his deal with Relativity in the rear view, optingto work for the most storied label in rap history.

I offer this brief run though of Lighty’s history only to set the stage for a fascinating anecdote that speaks to what I believe to have been his true character. It also appears in Dan Charnas’s book. It involves a confrontation that Lighty had with a rather fearsome CEO from another legendary rap label.

When forming Death Row records, Suge Knight famously passed up the chance to sign Dr. Dre’s talented step brother Warren G. That oversight would prove costly, as Warren would become a hot commodity in his own right. He went on to sign with Def Jam/Violator. His 1994 debut Regulate…G Funk Era was a multi-platinum smash that saved Def Jam from extinction. Its lead single, “Regulate,” also appeared on Death Row’s Above the Rim Soundtrack, helping that compilation to sell millions of copies. Having seen the error of his ways, Suge badly wanted Warren under the Death Row banner. He figured that his penchant strong-arm/shakedown tactics would do the trick. He put Lyor Cohen in his crosshairs.

Luckily for Lyor, Chris Lighty caught wind of Suge’s plans beforehand. He prepared the necessary counter measures. When accompanying Lyor to a De La Soul performance in Los Angeles, Chris enlisted the services of Lite, who was A Tribe Called Quests bodyguard at the time. While at the show, Suge and his entourage approached Lighty and Cohen. Lighty instructed Cohen to hang back while he handled the situation. Suge demanded to speak to Lyor. Lighty flat out refused. When Suge pressed the issue, Lighty gestured to Lite, who flashed a firearm. Lighty then addressed Suge. “We can both leave out the door, or one of us can leave in handcuffs.” Lighty then turned his attentions to Eric B (yes, that Eric B) who was a part of Suge’s entourage. “Eric, you should tell him about us, because you’ve to come back home (New York).”
Suge and Eric left without incident.

However, Suge had one card left to play. In childishly vindictive fashion, he barred Death Row artist Nate Dogg from appearing in the video for “Regulate.” This caused quite a problem, as the song is basically a duet between Warren and Nate. Again, Chris wasn’t having it. On the day of the video shoot, he stopped at Interscope’s office building on Wilshire Boulevard. With Lite again by his side, Lighty made a Beeline to Suge’s office. Once there, he appealed to Suge’s sense of logic. Nate appearing in the video would prove lucrative for all involved. When Suge asked Chris why he was being so protective of his white benefactor, Chris replied “fukk this ‘fukk the white man’ shyt. I don’t give a fukk about ‘the white man,’ because you’re fukking up my money right now.” Needless to say, Nate appeared in the video.