Stranded on Death Row: The artists who never made it.

Stranded on Death Row: The artists who never made it.

Preamble: Suge Knight- if you’re reading this, I assure you it’s all done in good fun. Please for the love of god don’t take any of this the wrong way. And if you do, just remember Death Toll Scholl wrote every last word printed here.

The Chronic changed my life. Not the actual hydroponic substance (though it certainly didn’t hurt), but the album. In 1992, I was in 6th grade and my entire musical repertoire consisted of what MTV told me I should listen to.

So while basking in the sights and  sounds of Guns N’ Roses and Kriss Kross, the good doctor and his faithful sidekick stepped on the screen.

In the immortal words of Private William Hudson: Game over, man.


I was hit with so many questions, the answers to which my young mind couldn’t handle. Who were these guys? What the hell were they talking about? Who was Eazy-E and do they hate him so much? Why did they all wear blurry jewelry?

dre day

All I knew is that I had to own that album. A quick trip to Tape World and one unsuspecting parent later, and I was the proud owner of The Chronic. To this day, it remains one of my favorite albums and Death Row Records holds the distinction of releasing some of the most classic albums of all time.

But what about those that got left behind? Here are three of their stories.

Sam Sneed

Here’s a pretty simple rule for getting into the rap game: wait until you’ve established a successful career and released albums before you start touting a catchphrase.

Sam Sneed decided to go about this ass backwards. he appeared on a grand total of one song, a skit and a bit cameo in a Snoop Dogg vanity project film and in each instance shoehorned in his trademark phrase:

“My name is Sam Sneed, you better recognize!”

sam sneed 2

Granted this would be pretty badass if anyone actually recognized Sam Sneed.

Sam Sneed 2

As it stands, Sam would go on to record an album that was never released, followed up with a mixtape seven years later and a collection of even more unreleased material seven years after that.

So here we have a dude who coined a catchphrase before doing anything of note, and then subsequently failing to do so.

This would be like if I ran into the MBQ offices after getting retweeted by them once and yelled “My name is Kevin DeLury, swallow my pork sword!”

Which come to think of it is actually how I got this gig.


The Outlawz

If you ever wanted a shot at being a successful Death Row Rapper, a posse was mandatory. Snoop and Dre had Tha Dogg Pound, who did well in their own right. On the flip side of the coin, 2Pac had The Outlawz.


Listen to “Hit Em Up.” You know all the guys who are not 2Pac telling Puff Daddy to go fuck himself? Those are The Outlawz. I couldn’t tell you any of their actually MC names, but I will never forget their alter egos and neither will you.

See, 2pac decided to reinvent himself as “Makaveli.” In light of several unsuccessful attempts on his life, he took a more…um, Machiavellian attitude towards life.

The parallels between Pac and the 16th century Italian philosopher were uncanny. They both believed in misdirection and deception to thwart one’s enemies and both had no love for a trick ass ho.


So since Pac was Makaveli, The Outlawz decided to make the totally rational move to rename themselves as genocidal warlords and dictators from history. Now his posse consisted of Yaki Kadafi, Kastro, E.D.I. Mean, Hussein Fatal, Napoleon and Mussolini.

outlawz 2

If it means the kids are beefing up on their history, I’m for it. Anyhow, they rapped on a bunch of songs until 2pac was shot and killed (presumably!). The members of The Outlawz fell apart, moving on to do motivational speaking, squash beefs, die, get new members and pretty much never be heard from in any meaningful again.


Just to be crystal clear, I am in no way trying to sully the majesty that is The Chronic. But stop and ask yourself something. How did this dude…


Get so incredibly fucking gangster? The answer: ghostwriters.

Basically, you get some dudes to pen your verses and then you rap them. Much in the same way I get a room full of monkeys with typewriters to write these articles and then put my name on them.

blurst of times

Which brings us to J-Flexx. “California Love?” “Natural Born Killaz?” “Keep Their Heads Ringin?” All J-Flexx.  This guy even ghost wrote for Sam Sneed and Shaq, so he’s a humanitarian to boot.

And yet the world never got a J-Flexx album. Unless you count all his unreleased Death Row work finally being put on an album in the timely year of 2007. Which we are not.


Somewhere in a volcano hideout made of $1,000 bills, Dr Dre is busy not giving a shit.

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  1. 1

    Awesome primer for me…in 1992 I had two kids and hadda sneak into the basement to “listen to music” (ahem…cough,cough). Guess I’ll have to git me some o’ this Chronic.

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