ENCINO, California — What do Prince, Diddy and Irv Gotti all have in common? They've all sold millions of records, and yet they can't get people to listen.
When Prince changed his name to a symbol, people still called him Prince. More people say "Puffy" now than "Diddy," and Irv has heard folks still saying "murder." And that's fine with him.
"It's a funny thing with the name change, because it never changed even when I changed it," a grinning Gotti said, sitting poolside at his California residence. "Everyone still said it was Murder Inc. No one, no one called it the Inc. I had a big press conference [in 2003] and we stood up and said, 'Listen, it's the Inc.' and everyone went, 'Yeah, so Murder Inc. went and tried to change their name.' "
Laughing, he continued, "So I tried to change it, but it didn't change. Am I officially changing it back? I think it officially never left. And I like where it is right now, so you know it's officially the Inc., and if certain people out there don't like saying the word 'murder,' a'ight, well then it's the Inc., but for the streets and most everybody else, it's still Murder Inc. and it's a true testament to me doing pretty good. Once you do something well, that's who you are."
Irv's track record over the past 10 years is one of the most storied in the music biz. As an executive, he's had a hand in dozens of hit records and was once a key player in helping Def Jam raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Well, Gotti is way past his breaking point. He's done with Def Jam and looking for new distribution for his label. Although he insists that there is no bad blood between himself and Def Jam, he feels utterly betrayed by the imprint's parent company, Universal Music Group.
Check out the feature "Irv Gotti: Can't Sink The Inc." for Gotti's take on the label's future.