On December 30, while everyone was busy posting aggressively filtered pictures of themselves from both ends of the last decade, Hasbro Toy Company completed its $3.8 billion acquisition of Entertainment One Ltd. (eOne), a Toronto-based multimedia company. Although the massive cash deal was presumably so that the toy giant could get its hands on eOne-produced kids' shows like Peppa Pig and PJ Masks, one of the other properties it picked up in the purchase was music label Death Row Records—yes, the one that defined West Coast gangster rap in the 90s.
"We are excited about what we can do together and see tremendous opportunity for shareholder value creation through this acquisition,” Brian Goldner, Hasbro's chairman and CEO said in a statement. “Our businesses are highly complementary with substantial synergies and a great cultural fit. The addition of eOne accelerates our blueprint strategy by expanding our brand portfolio with eOne’s beloved global preschool brands, adding proven TV and film expertise, and creating additional opportunities for long-term profitable growth."
Substantial synergies. A great cultural fit. Yes, the company behind My Little Pony and Furby now also owns a music catalog for the that includes "Bitches Ain't Shit" and "Murder Was the Case."
Hasbro, as everyone who watched Saturday morning cartoons knows, is responsible for now-iconic toys like Transformers, Power Rangers, G.I. Joe, Mr. Potato Head, the Monopoly board game series, and Magic: The Gathering. Death Row Records was co-founded in 1991 by Dr. Dre and Suge Knight and, over the next five years, its reputation was fully cemented thanks to also-iconic releases from Dr. Dre ( The Chronic), Snoop Dogg ( Doggystyle), and 2Pac ( All Eyez On Me).
According to Rolling Stone, eOne already has a profitable independent music division, Entertainment One Music, which generated more than $30 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2019. eOne Music—formerly known as Koch Records—has released albums from artists ranging from DJ Khaled and Public Enemy to Opeth and Hatebreed. (Koch also released the debut record from awful-but-endearing American Idol contestant William Hung.)
The original incarnation of Death Row Records filed for bankruptcy in 2006, and was re-launched under its new owners as WIDEawake Death Row Entertainment—but that company went bankrupt in 2012 too. A few weeks later, EOne reportedly spent an estimated $280 million to purchase "the iconic music library assets" of Death Row Records from WIDEawake.
Last October, Suge Knight—who is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter—announced that Ray J would be handling the "music side" of Death Row Records going forward. "Ray J is not just a friend of mine, that's little brother, that's family," Knight said, according to XXL. "And I respect Ray J and his business dealings, that's why I choose him as one of the guys to deal with the music side of the future for as Death Row Records, anything to do Death Row."
The deal between Hasbro and eOne was announced at the end of last summer, but it wasn't finalized until December 30. In addition to Death Row Records, eOne Music also owns Artemis Records, which released "Who Let the Dogs Out" into a world that didn't deserve it, and Americana-slash-indie label Dualtone Records.
We look forward to Peppa Pig's inevitable mixtape. Gonna be fire.