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Murder Inc. Records
The Inc. Records (formerly known as Murder Inc. Records) is a popular hip hop record label, owned by record producer Irv Gotti. It features many current hip hop and R&B artists, such as Ja Rule, Ashanti, Vita, Caddillac Tah, Charli Baltimore, and, most recently, Bobby Brown. Murder Inc. is responsible for jump-starting Ashanti's career, as well as for bringing Charli Baltimore and Bobby Brown back into the music scene in 2002. Both Brown and Baltimore were featured on Ja Rule singles that year, "Thug Lovin'" and "Down Ass Chick," respectively. They also both plan to eventually release new full-length albums on the label before the end of 2005.
The label releases its product through distributor Def Jam Records, retaining control of its copyrights and masters. The label's big break came in 1999 when Ja Rule's Venni Vitti Vicci LP was a multi-platinum success. The roster grew from there, expanding to include R&B with the addition of Ashanti in 2002. Elektra Records artist Lil Mo was a frequent collaborator with the Murder Inc. artists, and recorded two popular duets with Ja Rule, "Put It On Me" and "I Cry". In late 2002, she parted friendly company with the label, as her collaborations with them dwindled after the addition of Ashanti. She, 50 Cent, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Truth Hurts, were all the subjects of an underground freestyle record on which Ja Rule disses each of them.
After witnessing Murder Inc.'s string of hits in late 2001 and 2002, and realizing that "featuring" musicians on Murder Inc. songs could potentially boost languishing careers, Michael Jackson contacted Gotti in late 2002, in hopes of collaborating with him on Jackson's next album.
On November 14, 2003 Gotti decided to shorten the name of the label to "The Inc", most likely to appease music video channels and music stores that were uncomfortable with the label's use of the word "murder". In 2004, Gotti's label came under investigation for laundering money through his record label for New York City drug kingpin and childhood friend "Supreme" McGriff. On January 25 2005, Gotti and his brother Chris turned themselves in, claiming innocents and uninvolvement in drug trade. They were released on $1 million bail, and will be tried alongside McGriff for the charges against them.
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