Murder Inc. Records


Irving "Irv Gotti" Lorenzo June 26th, 1970 Hollis Queens, NY
Christopher "Chris Gotti" Lorenzo (unknown by author)

The Inc. Records was founded in 1997 by Irving "Irv Gotti" Lorenzo and his brother Christopher Lorenzo. At the time Irv was a DJ under the alias of DJ Irv. He was a developing producer and helped produce cuts for a young Sean Corey "Jay-Z" Carter. He also knew Earl "DMX" Simmons, both New York emcees. After overhearing a Ca$h Money Click recording he took a kind ear to one of the emcees, Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Aitkins. His deep growling vocals were similar to that of DMX. These connections had landed him a job in A&R at Russell Simmons' Def Jam Recordings. He recruited Jay-Z and the Roc-A-Fella Records imprint and DMX who laid nothing but platinum eggs for Def Jam. However he kept Ja Rule for his next definitive career move, Murder Inc.

In early 1997, Gotti approached Def Jam president Lyor Cohen to ask for his own label, Cohen agreed. During that summer Murder Inc. Records was registered. Gotti then untied Ja Rule from a stagnant TVT Records contract and sign him onto Murder Inc. Black Child and Caddillac Tah were also signed on solo deals. Parent label boss, Russell Simmons created the idea of forming a promotional package with Jay-Z, DMX and Ja Rule to form a rap group with the same name, Murder Inc. They released several joints on their respective albums and recorded with other artists under this moniker. This helped promote the label, but the first major break came in '98, when Jay-Z featured Gotti's artist Ja Rule on his hit single "Can I Get A..." which catapulted Ja Rule into a long and successful career.

The first Murder Inc album came out in 1999, Ja Rule's Venni Vetti Vecci executive-produced by Irv Gotti featuring the hot track, "Holla Holla". At this time the label also signed female rapper Vita and worked with Lil Mo on a few popular Ja Rule duet tracks "Put It On Me" and "I Cry" in 2000. The following year Lil Mo would break ties with the label as these tracks were dropped from Ja Rule's third album line up and replaced with Ashanti duets. Gotti put out the label's first compilation album, Irv Gotti Presents: The Murderers. After signing Charli Baltimore and Ashanti, Murder Inc were one of the most dominant labels on the East Coast, more popular than Bad Boy and Roc-A-Fella. The label reached it's height of success in 2002 with Ashanti's self-titled début solo album going multi-platinum. It was another strong sales year for Murder Inc with Ja Rule's new album. Both Ja Rule and Ashanti took top honours at both the BET Awards and VMAs. Even R&B prince Bobby Brown was signed to the Inc.

The Lorenzo brothers formed a business relationship with local Queens drug kingpin, Kenneth McGriff who sold cocaine with his crew, The Supreme Team through the 1980s. McGriff formed deals with Murder Inc. including a financial injection into the film adaptation of a Donald Goines novel, Crime Partners. Involving Murder Inc, Irv and Chris Lorenzo and Island/Def Jam this appeared to be a money-laundering operation for McGriff's illegal cash gains. With McGriff involved the label had connection and muscle at their side.

In 2000 before the surfaced bitter dis-tracks and beef in print, Murder Inc.'s top earner, Ja Rule had an altercation with an associate of 50 Cent resulting in Ja having his neck chain snatched and mugged for other jewellery. Ja informed Gotti who in turn told McGriff. Not a man to take lightly, McGriff knew 50 Cent as a local growing up within the boundaries of his drug empire and was reportedly responsible for the execution-style killing of Run DMC DJ and record producer, Jam Master Jay. 50 Cent and associates were threatened by McGriff to return the items. Gotti stirred events into further turmoil when he and Chris attacked 50 Cent at New York club, The Hit Factory. After assaulting him, the Lorenzo brothers ordered the stabbing of 50 Cent to be carried out by upstart rapper and small-time thug, Ramel "Black Child" Gill. He cut deep into 50's torso. 50 later survived an attempted murder when he was ambushed outside his grandmother's home in Queens by a gunman. He suffered nine shots to the body, arm and face. Investigators believed the incident was tied to McGriff. However, the case is still unsolved as of 2008. 50 Cent and G-Unit's public spat with Murder Inc. included the full weight of Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment which left them crippled in comparison. Record sales were drastically cut due to their failing to defend thsemselves against 50 Cent's commercial bullying. Murder Inc. seemingly wilted away as label chiefs were under heavy fire from pending legal proceedings which also caused the company to cease all operations. The label name was shortened to "The Inc." Letterheads were officially changed over on November 14th, 2003. This was due to several building complications on the legal side and marketing. Music video executives insisted the name change after refusing to air any chart-topping videos from Murder Inc. artists who were uneasy with the term "Murder" appearing. This change also appealed to any judge and jury who were gearing up to meet the Murder Inc. label heads over serious charges were put on the Lorenzo brothers and associates. The first album drop for the newly named label was R&B new act, Lloyd with his début solo, Southside.