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Record label drops Murder, keeps Inc.

The Inc.
Irv Gotti, at podium, announces that his company's name will be changed to The Inc., with singer Ashanti and Dr. Benjamin Chavis.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Hip-hop record executive Irv Gotti said Wednesday he is changing his company's name in hopes of returning people's focus to the music.

Gotti, whose real name is Irv Lorenzo, said he is dropping the word "murder" from his record label Murder Inc. The company's new name: The Inc.

"People focus on the negative energy of the word murder," Gotti said at a midtown Manhattan news conference Wednesday. "Hopefully everyone will focus on our talent."

Gotti was flanked by two of his record label's stars: rapper Ja Rule and singer Ashanti, as well as hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Hip-Hop Action Network head Benjamin Chavis.

Murder Inc. has been the focus of a federal investigation involving charges of money laundering and possible connections to a drug dealer. At the news conference, Gotti made only a passing reference to the investigation.

"Although a lot of things over the past year has been said about us, about the label and about the artists, up here is good people," he said.

Gotti said he thought up the name Murder Inc. after seeing a documentary about mobsters who called their crew "Murder Incorporated." He thought it was catchy and appropriate, since his company creates chart hits.

But he said some people didn't get the double-meaning.

"The hip-hop world really, they get it 100 percent, what we're doing," Gotti said. "But that's always the case. It's the people outside hip-hop that don't get it."

The label's first release under its new name is Ashanti's "Christmas Album."

Gotti decided to change the name after a meeting with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The two met to talk about the ongoing feud between Ja Rule and another rap star, 50 Cent, which has been the talk of the hip-hop world.

Gotti said the feud is at a standstill.

"Everything with 50 is quiet," Gotti told reporters. "We don't have to say anything more about him."

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