Tha Row topper to delve into controversial rise in music

Riverhead Books has secured world rights to West Coast rap entrepreneur Marion “Suge” Knight’s autobiography.

Set for release in 2003, the yet untitled book will chronicle Knight’s emergence as a rap music impresario, as well as the controversies that have swirled around his career. Knight founded Death Row Records in 1992 and later served a five-year prison sentence for assault-related charges.

Knight said the book will examine his sometimes tumultuous relationships with such characters as Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Snoop Dogg, Vanilla Ice, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and John F. Kennedy Jr., as well as his years in prison.

“There have been a lot of allegations about Death Row and me. I felt I owe it to the public and the fans to hear the truth,” he said. “I want young people to know how terrible prison is. I want them to understand the importance of education — that there are more ways to get out of the ghetto than by being an athlete or a rapper.”

Riverhead VP and co-editorial director Julie Grau called the book “a classic American rags-to-riches saga that also illuminates the most significant revolution in popular music of the past several decades. He is a singular combination of showman, businessman and gangster, and a natural-born storyteller.”

Mickey Freiberg, lit head at Acme Talent & Literary, and Knight’s attorney, Arthur Barens, said the book will serve as the foundation for Knight to expand the Death Row franchise into film and other arenas. Death Row — now known as Tha Row — produces direct-to-video pics, and has been the focus of various docus by other companies, including “Welcome to Death Row,” a video title produced and distribbed by Xenon Pictures.

Knight was repped by Literary Group Intl. prexy Frank Weimann.

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