Irv Gotti's Office Raided

Feds looking for connections to drug dealer

January 6, 2003 12:00 AM ET

A federal task force raided the New York City office of Def Jam imprint Murder Inc. last week as part of an investigation into alleged connections between the label's head, Irv Gotti, and the convicted leader of a drug gang.

At the center of the investigation is Gotti's (born Irving Lorenzo) relationship to Kenneth McGriff, who during the Eighties headed the notorious Supreme Team street gang, which sold crack cocaine in the Jamaica, Queens, neighborhood in New York. McGriff and several other Supreme Team members were arrested in 1988, and he served ten years in prison after a conviction on narcotics charges. According the Los Angeles Times, investigators are looking into the possibility that Gotti funneled money from that drug trafficking activity into what was once a fledgling music career.

Gotti grew up in Hollis, Queens, the same neighborhood as Run-DMC. As a teen, he began working as a DJ, but also made some connections with local drug dealers. "I got lured into the bullshit," he told Rolling Stone last year. "I don't recommend it." By the early-Nineties, he had severed those ties, and after his discovery of, and recording with, rapper Mic Geronimo, he began working an A&R job at TVT Records. He also worked briefly as DJ for an up-and-coming Jay-Z.

Gotti eventually hooked up with Def Jam and in 1996 did production work on Jay-Z's debut, Reasonable Doubt. He was responsible for discovering DMX and Ja Rule, and recorded their first albums, 1998's It's Dark and Hell Is Hot and 1999's Venni Vetti Vicci, respectively. In 1999, he struck a deal with Def Jam to launch Murder Inc., which found its flagship artist last year with Ashanti, whose self-titled debut was one of the year's biggest sellers.

Gotti also released Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc., a various-artists compilation last year, and told Rolling Stone he has plans for his first solo album this year. "I wanna think of a word that sums up heaven and hell, 'cause I think that's my life," he said. "I'm an angel and a devil at the same fuckin' time. So a word that encompasses both is gonna be the name of my album."

McGriff also has ties to Crime Partners, a Murder Inc. film based on the Donald Goines novel. McGriff is credited as a co-writer and producer on the film, which features appearances by Ja Rule, Snoop Dogg and Ice-T.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

More Song Stories entries »