PnB Rock's former label Empire Distribution mourns its sixth slain artist

Alexandra Ciufudean September 14, 2022
PnB Rock's former label Empire Distribution mourns its sixth slain artist


Rapper PnB Rock, once signed to Empire Distribution Records, died on Monday (September 12, 2022) after being shot in a robbery. A source close to the rapper confirmed the circumstances of his death to Vulture.

The fatal incident happened while PnB was at a Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles restaurant in Los Angeles. A graphic video of the incident’s bloody aftermath was first published by TMZ.

He was shot multiple times and robbed of his jewelry. According to PHL17 journalist Doc Louallen, he was still conscious and breathing when police reached the scene. However, the rapper’s condition quickly deteriorated and he died from his injuries shortly after.

In a tragic streak for Empire Distribution, PnB Rock is the label’s sixth signed rapper to be killed in the past four years. Now, musicians are calling on labels to step up to protect their artists.

Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage

PnB Rock is Empire Distribution’s sixth slain rapper in just four years

In a tragic streak, six former Empire Distribution artists, including PnB Rock, have been murdered in the past four years. Most of those deaths were considered gang-related.

Rock, who was born Rakim Allen, was signed to Atlantic Records in 2015 and two years later released his second retail mixtape album, GTTM: Goin Thru The Motions, through Empire Distribution. He found widespread fame with hit single Selfish, released in June 2016, which peaked at number 51 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In June 2017, Rock was named by XXL Magazine as one of its ten Freshman Class graduates, alongside established names such as Playboi Carti and XXXTentacion.

Rock’s more recent works pay tribute to a number of late rappers. His January 2020 track, Ordinary, features the late Pop Smoke and January 2021’s Rose Gold includes a feature from King Von. The late O Block rapper was also signed with Empire Distribution.

Artists signed to Empire Distribution who have died

Founded in 2010 by San Francisco native Ghazi Shami, Empire has offices in New York City, Nashville and Atlanta, and across the pond in London, UK.

Its artist roster includes big names such as Busta Rhymes and recently expanded to include Nigerian artists such as Asake, signed through Empire Africa.

Over the past four years, however, Empire has lost a significant number of its current and former signees to murder.

The tragic streak seems to have started in 2018 with the death of XXXTentacion. The rapper burst on the scene apparently overnight and struggled psychologically under the weight of his new-found fame.

Tentacion signed with Empire in 2017 and in 2018 renewed the deal, now worth $10 million. A few months later, the artist was gunned down outside a South Florida motorcycle dealership and died from his injuries.

In 2020, tragedy struck Empire Distribution again when signed rapper MO3 was shot and killed on the I-35 highway outside Dallas, Texas. MO3 had released his mixtape, Osama, on Empire just a year before his death.

Chicago rapper King Von was also shot to death in 2020 in an altercation with a rap rival’s crew. In the early hours of November 6, a fight outside a club in Atlanta, Georgia, escalated and two of the people involved were killed, including the rapper.

Von had signed with Empire in 2018 and enjoyed rising success until his untimely death.

Memphis artist Young Dolph died in a shootout in his home town on November 17, 2021. He had been distributing his projects through his own label, Paper Route Records, but had signed a deal with Empire in 2018.

Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage

Lastly, rapper Drakeo The Ruler was stabbed to death by an anonymous mob backstage at LA festival Once Upon A Time, where he was scheduled to perform in late December 2021. His brief deal with Empire resulted in only one project, Because Y’All Asked, released in 2020.

Rappers call on labels to protect artists

The world of hip-hop is sadly no stranger to violence. The LA scene alone has had a number of these indicents over the past couple of years.

PnB Rock himself acknowledged this disturbing trend in the last interview he gave before his death. Talking to DJ Akademiks on September 2 about rappers getting robbed in LA, Rock said: “It’s so common.”

“I never got robbed,” he added. “Ever in my life.”

As news broke of rapper PnB’s death on Tuesday, rappers started calling on labels to protect them from such attacks in future.

Ohio rapper Trippie Redd, who had been close to Rock as he rose to fame, urged labels to include “a guard or two” in their contracts.

“I keep losing my friends to gun violence,” he wrote. “I want all my friends to start having a guard or two – it honestly should be on the label to get you protection.”

“That’s one thing I used to tell xxx [Tentacion],” Redd added, “let’s stop riding around in the i8 just me and you while your paid security sleep at the house we in the club just us.”

Although bodyguards are a fixture with big-name celebrities, Redd believes rappers such as PnB Rock and XXXTentacion could also have benefited from protection while out in public.

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Alexandra is Head of Entertainment at The Focus, managing a growing team of outstanding graduate and experienced writers. She has worked previously as an editor, writer and content specialist across web, video and social platforms and has a bachelor's in English Linguistics and a master's in Comparative Literature.