Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon “Dame” Dash recently discussed his falling out with Jay-Z around 2005 and said the rap mogul ultimately betrayed their relationship.
Recalling when Jay offered rights to the trademark name “Roc-A-Fella” in exchange for his Reasonable Doubt masters, Dash expressed his shock in the unexpected request.
Jay decided to sever business ties with his fellow founders; their stake in the company was sold back to Island Def Jam for a reported $10 million, while controlling interests in the remaining clothing, film, and alcohol ventures were sliced up. Jay signed a three-year contract to become president and CEO of Def Jam–a position he would leave in 2008 for Live Nation. He offered the rights to the name “Roc-a-Fella” to Dash and Biggs in exchange for the recording masters to Reasonable Doubt, but the pair wouldn’t make the deal. “We all earned those masters,” Dash says.This turn of events remains bewildering. “The people that I was helping, once they realized their dreams, they did what a criminal would do,” Dash continues. “They stabbed you in the back. Think about the frustration of building a brand for years that should be taking care of your family, and then the person that was the closest to you saying, ‘Nah, you can’t have no parts of it,’ and flushing it.” (Village Voice)
Last May, Dame talked about bringing back Roc-A-Fella Records to release his artist Curren$y‘s debut album.
“[Curren$y] inspired me to dust off the chains. We brought ‘em out for kicks, just ’cause we could. Then we was like, ‘F— it, let’s put it out through Roc-A-Fella.’ It was really more something he wanted to do. Basically, ’cause we havin’ such a good time, and the opportunity’s there, we was like, ‘Why not?’ … Def Jam or Universal bought the brand. I think the ‘beef’ [with us and Jay-Z] was that Jay made it clear he didn’t want me or Biggs to be a part of it. That’s really where it was at. Now that he doesn’t work for Def Jam anymore, he doesn’t have the right to use the name. So there’s no reason for us not to use it. It’s there, and it’s a brand that’s not being used. So I was like, ‘I’ll take it.’ It always meant something to me.” (MTV)
In November 2009, Dash accused former Def Jam president Lyor Cohen of inspiring 2005’s Roc-A-Fella break-up.
“I’m very disappointed where Roc-A-Fella went,” Dame explained in an interview. “I’m very disappointed, it’s like the brand is compromised. I never thought that could ever happen where Roc-A-Fella is just not relevant. Lyor is a funny dude, he’s a mastermind. He’s not scared, I think his influences are what broke up Roc-A-Fella. It’s just all business man and even though I’m not running it no more, you still don’t wanna see something go down. It feels good but it feels bad, it’s bittersweet. It’s hard. I got love for everybody, really. But sometimes people do things that are uncharacteristic of what I thought they were. I wish [Beanie Sigel] could have done a little more. I’m surprised at that certain position he took. But you know, he’s a man and he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do…Kanye is a funny cat to me, I can never know whether he’s acting or not…The Kanye I see on television isn’t the Kanye that I know — but I always will admire his hustle, his work ethic…” (Mixtape Monster)
Dash recently talked about his past financial troubles and blamed the media for building too much hype around him.
“I started to go through a lot of bad press all of a sudden,” he explains of the period following the sale of his shares in Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear Clothing. “Like, the recession hit everybody, but me being a businessman and motherf*ckers getting caught up in the storm, all my issues were completely public. And completely exaggerated. So the recession sh*t happens, I don’t give a f*ck.” (YRB Magazine)
Check out some footage of Dame Dash & Jay-Z below: