Five of EMPIRE Music Label's most popular artists have died in the past four years. Tragic coincidence or sinister scheme?
EMPIRE Distribution, Records, and Publishing has faced its fair share of tragedy in the past few years. Hip hop artists XXXTENTACION, King Von, Mo3, Young Dolph, and PnB Rock were all signed to EMPIRE Records and all lost their lives due to gun violence. Is this merely a tragic coincidence, or is there a more sinister scheme at play?
Ghazi Shami, Founder of EMPIRE Records, was born in San Francisco and founded the record label in 2010. Although EMPIRE has released several albums in various genres, the distribution's most notable releases have been in the hip hop genre.
More times than not, record labels are founded and operated by people who are outside of the target audience for the genre. This has always been an interesting fact. People like Ghazi Shami, Fat Joe, and DJ Khaled built success and fame by riding the coattails of talented Black men and women. But why does that success never amount to much in the long run for the Black community?
While label CEOs, deejays, and producers are counting their racks, hip-hop artists are trapped in 360 deals, shady business practices, and cycles of violence that ultimately harm the audience it influences. Young men and women in the Black community aspire to achieve the heights of mainstream hip-hop artists with record deals, and sadly, the Black community sees the damaging effects of the messages it puts out.
But what's really going on at EMPIRE? It's tragically ironic that in the past four years, five of the label's most popular artists have fallen victim to robberies and gun violence.
Let's take a look at this track record:
Florida rapper, XXXTENTACION, died on June 18, 2018, at the age of 20 during a drive-by shooting as he was driving away from RIVA Motorsports in Deerfield Beach, FL. Investigators claimed that it was an apparent robbery.
Chicago drill rapper, King Von, died in a shooting on November 6, 2020, in Atlanta at the age of 26. Sources say that the violence ensued after an argument erupted between two groups leaving 3 dead and 3 injured outside of Monaco Hookah Lounge. Two off-duty police officers working security outside of the venue intervened which led to the shooting. King Von was shot during the initial shooting between the arguing groups.
Rapper Mo3 was shot and killed at the age of 28 on I-35 in Dallas on November 11, 2020. Mo3 was approached by the suspect as he was sitting in his car. Mo3 got out of his car and started running down the freeway where he was chased by the suspect and shot multiple times. He later succumbed to his injuries and died.
Memphis rapper, Young Dolph, was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on November 17, 2021, at the age of 36. Young Dolph was about to head to his event when he was killed outside of Makeda's Homemade Butter Cookies. Although a second suspect has been arrested and indicted, a motive has not been clearly identified.
Philadelphia rapper, PnB Rock, was fatally shot on September 12, 2022, in Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in an attempted robbery. In a case of tragic irony, days before his death, PnB Rock spoke about rappers being targets of robberies. Some fans and social media critics have blamed his girlfriend who shared their location in an Instagram story post moments before the robbery and shooting.
Ghazi Shami has yet to release a statement on the recent death of PnB Rock. Many on the Internet are questioning why EMPIRE's artists are dying back to back.
Ghazi Shami, whose name means "conqueror" is certainly conquering the lives of Black men who are signed to his label. Whether indirectly or directly conquering, that will be up to the masses to decide until the truth be revealed.
Dejyah Yisraèl contributed to this article through The Kingdom Magazine.