Although Roc-A-Fellas Records’ co-founders Jay-Z and Damon “Dame” Dash went their separate ways back in the mid-2000’s, former label artist Freeway now reveals the entire roster was dropped a few years ago.
According to Free, shortly after the release of his 2007 solo album, Free At Last, he was let go.
By 2005, the Jay-Z/Dame Dash feud was dominating headlines, but for Free, the reality didn’t set in until after he dropped his 2007 sophomore album. “It definitely was a point in time when I was like, ‘Oh sh–, what am I gonna do?’ ” the bearded MC recalled, saying that it was former Roc-A-Fella A&R Lenny Santiago who broke the news to him and State Property. “I think it was the time when it was really over and everybody got dropped, after [’07’s] Free at Last, probably like a couple of months after that, that’s when we realized. Lenny S. came to Philly to talk to us. “He was like, ‘Look, man, it’s gonna be some changes again; everything ain’t how it was,’ basically, ‘It’s over.'” (RapFix)
Last summer, former co-founder Dame Dash opened up about splitting ways with Jay.
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 $10 million, while controlling interests in the remaining clothing, film, and alcohol ventures were sliced up. Jay signed a three-year contract to become president and CEO of Def Jam–a position he would leave in 2008 for Live Nation. He offered the rights to the name “Roc-a-Fella” to Dash and Biggs in exchange for the recording masters to Reasonable Doubt, but the pair wouldn’t make the deal. “We all earned those masters,” Dash says. This turn of events remains bewildering. “The people that I was helping, once they realized their dreams, they did what a criminal would do,” Dash continues. “They stabbed you in the back. Think about the frustration of building a brand for years that should be taking care of your family, and then the person that was the closest to you saying, ‘Nah, you can’t have no parts of it,’ and flushing it.” (Village Voice)
In May 2010, Dame talked about bringing back Roc-A-Fella Records to release his artist Curren$y‘s 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)
The same month, Free took an optimistic look at his post-Roc situation and talked about moving forward.
“I did my thing at The Roc, learned a lot over there so I feel as though it’s time to try my hand with the independent thing,” Free told television personality DJ Envy. “It’s crazy man, it feels real good… I still speak to everybody. I keep good contact with everybody, it’s all good with me man, we rocking… [In State Property,] everybody’s good. Hopefully, hopefully we’ll put [a State Property album] together. Shout-out to Peedi Crakk, he just came home from the joint, we’re working on his stuff. And we grinding, everybody’s grinding, trying to put a nice situation together for themselves. So hopefully we can come together after that.” (“Sucker Free”)
Check out some recent Freeway footage below: