Murder Inc. Records (formerly The Inc. Records) is an American record label, owned by Irv Gotti.
Formation and success (1999-2003):
After helping Def Jam Recordings with the success of DMX and Jay Z, Russell Simmons gave Irv Gotti his own label under Def Jam. While watching Biography on A&E during gangster week a Murder Inc. logo appeared on the screen which gave Irv Gotti an idea what to call his label. He got the inspiration because Murder Inc. put out hits and Irv wanted to put out hit records. In 1999, Murder Inc. released its first album, Venni Vetti Vecci by Ja Rule. The album featured the hit single "Holla Holla". The album went platinum, which made Ja Rule and Murder Inc. among the most popular rappers and labels in the industry respectively, even though after 10 years, in 2009, Ja rule left the label.
In 2000, the label began to associate themselves with Lil' Mo, who would record two popular duets with Ja Rule, "Put It on Me" and "I Cry". That same year, Irv Gotti released the first Murder Inc. compilation, Irv Gotti Presents: The Murderers.
At this point, Murder Inc. was more popular than Bad Boy Records. They would sign Charli Baltimore and Ashanti during that year. Also in 2001, their friendship with Lil' Mo would grow sour because her tracks that were set to be released on Ja's third album were cut and replaced with duets with Ashanti.
This would cause a minor feud as Lil' Mo would cut ties with the label. The label would soar to new heights during late 2001 and the summer of 2002 as Ashanti would release her multi-platinum debut, Ashanti, and it had three hits and Ja Rule had another big year.
During the VMAs, Ashanti and Ja Rule both won big and did the same at the BET Awards, Murder Inc. would even sign Bobby Brown to the label. All of this success was quickly coming to an end despite Ja Rule's album still going platinum. It sold well but did not live up to its expectations.
The label left Universal Motown searching for a major distribution deal.
It is believed that much of the money involved in starting up the Murder Inc. label came from Irv Gotti and his associates' involvement in organized crime, specifically drug dealing. He has ties to incarcerated Queens drug kingpin Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, who was a major investor in the label's beginnings.
The Inc. (2003-2007):
On November 14, 2003, Irv Gotti held a press conference about the recent changes at Murder Inc., the feuds, the scandal and Ja Rule's trouble. In the end, he talked about changing the name from Murder Inc. to The Inc. Records. This became official in 2004, with the signing of Lloyd and the release of his debut album Southside.
Ja Rule would see his music return to form, with his platinum-selling album R.U.L.E., and his popularity somewhat restored. Ashanti would also release her successful album, Concrete Rose.
At the end of 2004, they were ordered to leave the Def Jam offices while the investigations were on. When the trials began in early 2005, Def Jam made them honor their contracts and release compilation albums; then they were not re-signed.
The Inc. Records spent the year of 2005 and parts of 2006 searching for a new home. Lorenzo first went to his friend Lyor Cohen at the Warner Bros. labels. Cohen offered a deal that would make Gotti the head of not only The Inc., but also Atlantic Records Group. In the deal it involved them buying The Inc. and Gotti getting paid the same as he did at Def Jam. The Inc. then ended talks with Warner Bros. as Gotti felt they would not get paid enough money.
Gotti had short talks with Capitol Records and even Interscope Records. It was beginning to seem as if they were going to sign with Atlantic, then Universal Records offered Gotti a seven-year deal and 50 percent ownership of his materials and the label along with the job as A&R which pays a large amount of money. A portion of the deal was financed by National Talent Agency out of Southern California.
The Inc. Records would sign on to Universal Records (like Def Jam, a division of Universal Music Group) in early 2006 and begin recording their respective albums. Soon after settling in at Universal, Lorenzo would sign singer Ashley Joi and Adult alternative singer/pianist Vanessa Carlton, who had been recently been recruited by Robert Krout and Christopher Dixon of National Talent shortly before the company's financial contribution.
In 2011 Ja Rule said over the phone the there was no more Murder Inc Records and said he was glad to be a part of that era of music. However, following Rule's release from prison Irv Gotti resurrected Murder Inc Records, under a label named Visionary.
Decline of The Inc. (2007-2012):
On August 1, 2007, Ja Rule would return to radio and television on Sucker Free on MTV, where he debuted his single "Uh Oh" with Lil Wayne and his return to recording music. Irv Gotti and Eastwood created The Inc. West with Eastwood serving as its president and Gotti on A&R. Techniec also signed to the label and was appointed Vice President. Techniec's group Dynamic Certified also signed to the label.
Irv Gotti later gave Ja Rule his own label, Mpire Records.
In May 2009 Irv Gotti announced to MTV News that he was releasing Ashanti from her contract with The Inc. Just one month later in June 2009 singer Lloyd--who had been with The Inc for five years--asked to be released from his contract. Lloyd cited the need for more control and change as reasons for his departure from the slowly shrinking label. "I'm ready for a change. There's no bad blood. I just feel I need to take more control over my career and get a fresh start. Hopefully Irv can understand my position," Lloyd explained in a press release.
"We find ourselves in limbo for the second time in three years," Henry Lee, Lloyd's manager said in a statement. "It's frustrating to know that opportunities to advance Lloyd's career are out there but we can't exploit them due to our current situation. Even though Lloyd is appreciative of the opportunity that has been afforded him by The Inc., he feels it's time for him to move on and seek opportunities that will allow him to build and enhance his brand."
Lloyd notified fans that an announcement regarding his "label situation" would be made earlier this week via his Twitter page writing, "I've been meeting with my management team and my attorneys for the past 2 days. Expect an announcement today regarding my label situation..."
In 2009 it was also announced that Ja Rule is no longer signed to The Inc., the label he had been with since its beginnings in 1997. Ja Rule decided to go independent on his own label Mpire Records, which is distributed through Fontana Distribution. Although Ja Rule had departed from The Inc., he is still on good terms with Irv Gotti and worked with him on his album, Pain Is Love 2.
Return of Murder Inc. (2013-present):
In September 2013, Murder Inc. was relaunched as an umbrella label under Irv Gotti's new label, Visionary. On September 27, Murder Inc. released its first songs in years, Ja Rule's "Fresh Out Da Pen" and "Everything", both produced by Murder Inc. Records/Visionary producers Reefa and Myles.William.
# Albums released under Murder Inc.
D.O. Cannons (Deceased)
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