When It All Falls Down…

I use the title above to document my series of drops regarding the Roc-A-Fella Records dynasty and it’s subsequent downfall. Whether we realized or not, but this isn’t so much the G-unit era of rap music in as much as it’s the extended demise of one of Hip-Hop’s greatest success stories. Roc-A-Fella Records which was founded by Jay-Z, Damon Dash(t.r.), and Kareem Burke was the most influential brand ever in the business of promoting rap music. The could fill an arena with artists from their label only. Jay-Z, Bleek, Sigel, Freeway, KanYe, Cam’Ron and the Diplomats were totally poised to take over the music entertainment industry and then the gravity of ego made the wheels fall off. There’s no doubt in mind that if Jay-Z and Cam’Ron had been cool there would be no oxygen in rap music left for NaS or Fifty Cent to breathe. Speaking of breathing, Fabolous would have been signed to the Roc on G.P. I’m talking about invincibility.

Instead we see that Jay-Z, Dame and Cam’Ron are all human and ultimately flawed. Even with Jay-Z’s tremendous success in recent years what is obvious is that he elected to cash out early. The millions from the sale of Roc-A-Wear and his various “ownership” arrangements are still just dividends from the capital that was invested over a decade ago. In a short while the residuals will dwindle and the only thing that will remain will be Dame Dash’s bitterness. I can’t totally blame him one way or the other, but to compare Dash with Diddy; at least Diddy could dance if he had to. Let me give Dash some credit though. He did sign up O.D.B. after his last stint in rehab.

When I spoke about O.D.B. last week someone said that Dirty wasn’t great because he was a drug addict and a criminal. I will admit now that was the first comment ever on this website that has hurt my feelings. I just realized then at that very moment this rap shit was really truly dead. I don’t know who that dude was but he reminded me how misunderstood people are about the ways an addiction can steal a genius from you. How many of you have ever been addicted to something? If you are an American then you definitely addicted to something. No matter who you are. Cocaine, sex, television, weed, sugar, pr0n, whatever. All addictions transform the addict and shape their personality. Some addictions transform those that come in contact with the addicts. It isn’t fun and often it’s dehumanizing. I say this from my experience on both sides of the spectrum. I was transformed and my life was forever changed.

What do you think about all the people that would have bought drugs from Jay-Z had he been a drug dealer that earned enough money to start a record label with his earnings? That sounds like a lot of addicts to me. Considering the fact that he would not only have needed to raise the money to start recording music, but also enough money to shelter the illegal money. I assume we all understand that in order to launder money it will cost you a shitload of money. You have to pay lawyers and accountants and other crooks to move your cash around like a shell game. And if you’re a Black man for every hundred bucks that gets put inside Dante’s fourth circle you might get only fifty bucks in return. This means that there should be a lot of addicted persons left in the wake of Jay-Z’s ascension to the pinnacle of the rap music pantheon. What if all these people filed a class action lawsuit against Jay-Z for the damages caused by drug addiction? That would be the addicts, their parents, their children, their families and friends, their employers and maybe even their neighbors. All of a sudden Jay-Z’s billions don’t seem all that much.

In New York State we have a law enacted that prevents convicted criminals from profiteering off crimes they have committed. Although Jay-Z has never been convicted for anything, let alone even indicted for jaywalking, I don’t know what these people could use as the basis for their lawsuit other than say… His entire discography. This could be pretty interesting since there are many artists that claim to have occupied a space on the avenues where narcotics distribution prevails. This could effectively end the notion of rappers who use the drug trade to supplement their album sales. The only problem with this plan is that it requires Blacks to be proactive socially progressive trendsetters. We all know that those aren’t the trends that Blacks are interested in starting. Instead I can imagine that there is some Black kid somewhere starting a new dance right now called ‘The Drug Addict’.

Roc-A-Fella y’all

  • HNIC

    What type of addiction that you’ve struggled with or have personally witnessed are you alluding to? I’m just curious.

    Secondly, are you suggesting that Jay-Z should have a class action lawsuit levied against him, since he’s made millions from his alleged former history in the drug trade?

    Even though, it has been chronicled in detail on many of his albums, what artist in recent history hasn’t alluded to doing many of the same activities? By using that logic, should those artists also be prosecuted?

    Personally, I think that Jay wasn’t exactly glorifying that lifestyle, he was telling a story from his perspective from his past experiences, whether it be his own or what he’s witnessed from others.

    If fact, he’s stated; “Niggaz actin like I sold you crack
    Like I told you sell drugs; no, Hov’ did that
    so hopefully you won’t have to go through that…” from “Izzo (H.O.V.A)”

    From that perspective, it seems like he’s providing a cautionary tale, not glorifying those deeds.

  • Hip Hop since 79′/ Raised under Reagan

    I often think about drug addicts… and the reality of the impact on our communities. However, the taint of the drug trade, pretty much touches everybody
    in this country. It like the slave trade built and maintains the status quo.

    “If there’s a hell below, we all gonna’ go.” (c) the late great Curtis Mayfield.

    p.s. ODB, will always be a talent to me; even as a drug addict he had value. We the Hip Hop community and we black people; reaaly need to stop throwing people away. ‘ALL’ hands on deck… we can use the man power.

    peace

  • Ryan

    First. I agree with the O.D.B. thing, he was great no matter what he was addicted to. He was an emcee, an entertainer, and he didn’t give a fuck what other people wanted him to make. A lot of todays so called artists could learn a lot from Dirty.

  • http://www.myspace.com/byggbwoy BYGGZ

    Damn,you’ve been getting deeper than Atlantis,what’s the deal man??Oh yeah,let me say that xxlmag.com is better than the fucking mag,hear that YN????

    ok,to all you lil’ e-thugs out there,I know that you are readying your keyboards to bomb back @ Sunday,but what he said is the real—what is it that we are so quick to believe that Jigga sold dope and never caught a case?I’m from the south and folks in Ga. will tell you that Jeezy is a fuckin’ fake,there are cities/hoods that he can’t roll thru because of his bullshit stories that you are buying.And T.I–he can’t bust a grape,yet he sells damn near 500,000 out the gate—damn!Lil’Wayne would have you to believe that he’s piru now—gimme a fucking break,and now he’s GOAT???You kids need to get a fucking clue,this is not what hip hop’s about,the shit is sickening to me.What happened to individuality and bringing a new style to the game?Rap will be dead in a few years,not because of the new War that’s being waged on it,it has survived these battles before.It will fall because of being made weak by the laziness to step out of the box and creating something new and keeping it fresh and innovative-not this cookie-cut, d-boy bullshit.

  • Incilin aka This Post Is About Something I Said

    “When I spoke about O.D.B. last week someone said that Dirty wasn’t great because he was a drug addict and a criminal. I will admit now that was the first comment ever on this website that has hurt my feelings. I just realized then at that very moment this rap shit was really truly dead. I don’t know who that dude was but he reminded me how misunderstood people are about the ways an addiction can steal a genius from you.”

    Billy, I was that guy but that’s not what I said. Your misquoting me. I did not say that ODB wasn’t great, I said I loved him but that in the eyes of God (At least the God I believe in) he would have been considered a sinner. My exact comment was this;
    “I love ODB too (The fact that he called himself a bastard because “there aint no father to his style” is brilliant) but come on. The guy was a drug addict and a criminal. He lived an insane lifestyle. He was buckwild crazy. God was not on that man’s side.”

    I don’t question his talent, his passion, nor his value to the Clan and hip hop in general. I never said he wasn’t great. The part your upset over is that I have an opinion of ODB as a rapper and ODB as a man.

    I find it strange that my comment alone made you believe hip hop is dead. I’ve heard a lot of ignorant shit on the internet and I know you’ve heard even more, and yet my comment is the one that makes you sad? Apparently I hit a nerve (Although, it is nice to see you actually read the comments) and like I once wrote to Tara after she wrote an entire post responding to one of my comments; “If there is indeed a pissing contest between the clevers, then apparently my clevers have pissed her off”

    * I’m worried where this debate will lead because I’ve foolishly interjected religion into my argument. On forums like this we can’t even discuss if Wayne is a good rapper or not without resorting to name calling, so I sincerely doubt we can talk about such a heated item like religion. But I do want to say that I’m not trying to force any religious babble on anyone here and that everyone is free to believe what they like.

  • LOL

    I agree about the Roca FELLA SHIT.

    THEY WOULD KEPT THE EAST COAST ALIVE.

    THEY COULDNT KEEP IT TOGETHER THO

  • John Brown

    The could fill an arena with artists from their label only. BLEEK? Are you fucking serious?

  • John Brown

    just realized then at that very moment this rap shit was really truly dead.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    NO Billy this rap shit aint dead. Whats dead is new york rap. Instead, NY rappers always take shots at the south. I would never agree that rap is dead. The only thing that its dead its the spirit of the NY rapper. 90′s NY rappers would never do that. Imagine the west taking over (like they did in 90′s) and NY rappers not doing nothing bout it. That its whats happening now. Like I said I stay in Miami, FL and I know we are from the south but we have that east coast breeze. Thats why I dont buy the bullshit that its out and thats why I dont think that this rap shit has died.

  • BirdsFlySouth

    O.D.B. – I have no love for anybody that get’s addicted to crack. What makes you try something that’s have you selling yourself on street corners? Screw crackheads that goes for my mother and brothers to if they choose to start smoking.

    And while I’m on the subject to hell with drug dealers as well. My uncle doing a bid right now b/c he was trafficing. And he wonders why I don’t come visit. Screw him b/c he obvisouly didn’t care enough about his mother, wife, and newborn son to stay out of jail.

    Agreed with the Roc statement.

  • Rues

    Whew!
    I’ve got to say, I feel a whole lot better knowing that Mr. Z sold all that crack so I wouldn’t have to. Makes my life easier, to say the least.

  • Hip Hop since 79′/ Raised under Reagan

    Billy,

    got an idea for you. Create a monthly blog, that addresses these type of issues. The way “WE”, celebrate the most degrading, repugnant, ass backward philosophies and ‘codes’.

    Address the issue and sign off each one with this, “..and that’s why, niggas stay losing.”

  • rob

    my my…that wasan interesting read…

  • rob

    my my…that was an interesting read…

  • NAWLEDGE

    O.D.B = LEGEND MOST DEF!!!!

    I COSIGN WITH BYGGZ.

    Im from Miami and all these niggas and females on Plies dick like he’s the best to come out the south! Everbody is ganna co sign when I say that

    PLIES IS A FUCKIN FRUITY! He has garbage lyrics, a whack flow, his swagger sounds like he’s drunk, fake ass stories which are all about things HIS BROTHER DID, the list goes on. And dont even get me started on lil boosie! I love the south and our music but im bumpin Lupe Fiasco in my car. he speaks about some real shit and real issues. this d-boy shit is ganna get old unless someone comes out with a new fresh way to talk about it.

    myspace.com/hustleman123
    myspace.com/ghostp19
    go listen

  • yolanda

    “Roc-A-Fella Records which was founded by Jay-Z, Damon Dash(t.r.), and Kareem Burke was the most influential brand ever in the business of promoting rap music. ”

    Idiot. that’s not even remotely accurate.

  • http://www.rich-arte.blogspot.com Rich Arte

    lol @ billy having a hissyfit over someone’s comments. shame on you billy. btw…odb was garbage.

  • Tek

    Don’t forget The ROC signed Big L a week before he was murdered too. Imagine if Big L took Bleeks spot. Unstoppable!

  • Cuban Link

    Good post, but I dont think Jay should have a lawsuit up his ass.We have freedom of speech, and you shouldnt be able to hold someone to their lyrics.

    I never though Jay was glorfying that lifestyle.Go all the way back to, say, Dead Presidents II.That was an amazing song, but didnt glorify the drug trade, look at the lyrics.

    And if you got a problem with Dirt McGirt GTFOH

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    this is why i keep coming back to xxl blogs – brilliant post, esp towards the end, Sunday.

  • Dr Flav

    This week, its become evident that you are on longer, if ever, qualified to be taken serious when discussing these issues, specifically when it deals with people of color. FREE LOL, STOP THE BANNING IN THESE STREETS, FREE SPEECH IS DYING!

  • blackman

    ODB got to fuk Mariah Carey, how was God not on his side? He was arguably the biggest star of one of the greatest rap groups of all time, how was God not on his side? If he was “just” a drug addict, then so was Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, and so many others who left a a name and timeless music as their legacy. I dont think anyone here is in a position to say how God saw ODB. Last but not least, Jay just capitalized on the way things are, that’s what all hustlers do in a capitalist society. To sue him for his guap would just be another hustle. Peace

  • around and around

    Check out the drop on “The Starting Five” by D.K. Wilson…called Two Sides and a Middle.

  • Sin-cere

    There’s no doubt in mind that if Jay-Z and Cam’Ron had been cool there would be no oxygen in rap music left for NaS or Fifty Cent to breathe.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Although i’m a big Jigga fan but I have to disagree. to me when Nas drop Ether (even thou neither won the battle-Draw) Nas took the sail out of Roc-a-fella and exposed some flaws in The Rocs and Jay Z make up.

    “is he Dame diddy, Dame daddy or dame dummy..oh i get it you biggie.. he’s puffy. roc-a-fella die of aids that was the end of his chapter..That the guy you named your company after. put it together I rock hoes yall roc fella”…lol

    need I say more.

    Fifty would still be living of GRODT anyway! But good post!

  • http://www.myspace.com/crockerishiphop Crocker

    Whoever downed O.D.B. needs to be place in front of the firing squad. That dude did more in his short life, than most of these so called, “rappers,” could do with a fucking eternity and three albums worth of Dr. Dre instrumentals.

  • Purple Hulk

    LET ME GET THIS SHIT STRAIGHT, INSTEAD OF POSTING THE 2ND PART TO THIS SERIES AFTER THE FIRST PART, YOU WAIT 4 MONTHS?
    YOU DUMBASS, LAZY PIECE OF SHIT, BLOGGING IS EVEN TO MUCH FOR YOUR LAZY ASS.

  • Lonestar

    Jesus christ can you ever stay on topic?

  • N.O. 4 life

    i said a while back and i’ll say it again…your the rex grossman of bloggin…your last thing was trash with no thought process or point but this was good.

  • Lllim

    good post,am i right in saying 50 has had convictions sellin drugs and in sum eyes he is profiting from it in a sense.EXAMPLE.”wen jayz n beyonce were mwah mwah kissin, i was cookin a hundred grams in my kitchen”…jus a thoght,anyone agree disagree.

  • jg420

    yo, lol get your fuckin racist ass off of this board and go learn to fuckin spell

  • Manka Cat

    Incilin what up.
    Right or wrong at least you see the idiocy of trying to debate here. I don’t understand people wasting their time to actually reply to a post with stupid, ignorant insults.
    Billy, I feel you though. I remember the response coming out, and it was an eye opening blow about the current state of hip-hop. But after reading the response on this post, I can see the confusion. I can see that this guy isn’t the reason for Hip-Hop’s ever approaching final demise. “On forums like this we can’t even discuss if Wayne is a good rapper or not without resorting to name calling…”. Thats the real shit right there. I don’t bother writing that he’s a posing piece of shit whore (word to 50) or commenting on any of the other meaningless dabates – 50′s gay. Fuck you. Repeat. It’s just a waste of time I could be using researching some underground shit, hunting for somthing freash to offer us hope in the darkest time in Hip-Hop. (Word to Marc Billz, Technique, Akir, Slug, and Vinnie, just to name the “mainsteam” underground guys).

    Anyway, word to Sunday for the insight, word to Incilin for the wisdom, and for trying to set it right without name calling.
    Peace.

  • Incilin

    Manka Cat,
    Good looking for understanding where I was coming from and actually taking the time to read what I wrote.

    But your comment notes another larger problem I’ve noticed. Most people don’t bother to read other people’s comments (I am very guilty of this myself)which is why I’m so glad that you did. Notice how Billy mentions me in this post but not by name, and I went and identified myself as the guy he was talking about. And yet a lot of the comments are like “whoever said that” or “whoever that guy was” which means they didn’t bother to read my response. I admit, I’m sorta glad because it means I don’t have to deal with the nonsense name calling and such.

  • AkaTheRealist

    Not to just jump on the bandwagon, but I’m glad to see there are insightful commenters like the two above me on XXLMAG.COM blogs. When I do take the time to read some of the other comments, I’d think not.
    Great Post Billy, but I still wouldn’t say Hip Hop is dead yet, or even dying. As much love as I have for it, I’d like to believe its simply in a slow stage. A Dark Ages if you will. Similar to the Medieval Times, which was subsequently followed by an age of enlightenment, and creative talent thrived through The Renaissance and what have you. Maybe Hip Hop’s Age of Enlightenment and Renaissance will come some time soon.
    Like Sam Cook said, change gon’ come.

  • http://xxlmag.com Kane Corleone

    Real talk the game has been around for a long time the only thing is some fans cant tell the difference,some cats think when some rappers say the game they think they’re just talkin bout the record industry,some of them are,then you have rappers that have been in the street and they try to go legit(ie-signed to a label)and even they cant tell the two.I’ve did that,and I’m not gonna knock nobody who’s been in the game and wants to make a career talkin bout it,if it sells it sells,A mafia dude did it,even yo fav mc did it,the public love to hear about crime then you turning shit around and start doin BIG THANGS,this is America land of muthfuckas who decided that 1 route aint they only way u can go

  • http://xxlmag.com Billy X. Sunday

    Incilin,
    Between creating content for a few different blosg and making videos sometimes the commenters names get lost in the sauce. I’m glad your proud of your comment. ODB was the fuckin’ truth no matter what drugs he may have taken. That didn’t diminish his manhood or his ability to rock the mic.

    Take a minute and study the man.

  • http://www.msn.com west philly’s finest

    I don’t think Jay glorified selling drugs some of his songs talked about the fucked up things about hustling like Regrets for example. And ODB is one of the greats because he brought that unpredictable flow to the table. Plus he wasn’t afraid to be himself. Their isn’t one man or woman walking the earth without sin so its not fair to judge him on his vices.

  • Ryan

    I have super religious in laws, they always try and interject religion into every convorsation. I have a more objective view than they do cause I look at the human aspect of most things and am not religious, where as they are more swayed towards whatever the church believes. I wish more people could be religious, but formulate their own opinions rather than letting their “god” be the judge. Seriously, if you like someones music, who gives a fuck what some “god” thinks, cause who knows what’s real. That’s why I don’t take the Athiest stance, cause I don’t know if there’s a god or not. No one does, I don’t care what they tell you.

  • FADE

    i agree with the odb comment

    outside of that what the fuck are u even saying tho…? word up on goin off on a tangent that makes no sense whatsoever..

    YO DIG UP THAT ODB JOINT FROM THE TALES FROM THE HOOD SOUNDTRACK MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL…
    LOST ME ON THIS ONE

  • .44 killer

    jay is irrelavent

  • Rizzop

    Old dirty was unlike anyone in this rap shit, or just life in general. He rocked the mic with damn near anyone you can think of and held his own. Name one person that really lived through his words…Oh baby i like it raw? He got burned how many times? He wore his heart on his sleeve…. Its fucked up but drugs have brought out some of the best music in every genre of music. Snoop, jimi hendrix, pink floyd, even scarface (mary jane anyone?)So as bad as it is we owe drugs a debt for some of our favorite music….But dont do drugs kiddies! Either way, other then wu-tang and the dungeon family, which crew of this generation had more talented artists? If you cant give the roc their probs, you must have been asleep through the 90′s. Too bad greed fucked it up, which aint gangsta at all whatever happened to loyalty?

  • J.R.O.

    Is it true that Big L (RIP) was supposed to sign with Roc-A-Fella?

  • Lone

    Jesus Christ. Have you ever stayed on topic for any of your posts? You’re like the Lil Wayne of this blogging shit..

  • dolo

    Im tired of hearing about the Rocafella Dynasty .. THey were not a dynasty .. they had one artist .. no one cares for anybody else. (kanye joined when the ship was sinking) how much did the dynasty sell for ?? They really did not do anything new .. clothing line?? Drug money to create the label ?? thats a blueprint (no pun intended) that has been rehased in rap before and after the Roc . CAn we say thet the Roc is also responsible for the downfall of nyc rap (with bad boy) and the rise of the “jiggy” era ?? The only other thing the Roc did was resuscitate Nasty’s career

  • Elie

    Yes if Murder Inc was hurt than so should the others be just not enough hip hop cops to want to prove this. When you do wrong you should pay, just like if i mess up get caught i’m going to pay, think about letting others pass when your ass sitting back looking stupid singing shoulda,coulda,woulda. Pass my ass that’s why people always talkinga bout stoy of my life. Damn straight. You control your destiny to an extent. Dames just mad at himself right now that’s all, and Jay he’s not mad at all. Get it Jay just did it first. Like on The Wire Avon did it better than Stringer at the end. One of two things that will save us as black people is to stick to our word. If you say you a certain person than be that person don’t change becuase someone pisses you off, if you say, “this is you” then make sure it’s you.Second make sure that your partner or the company you keep is doing the same damn thing “keeping it real”. If everyone did that there wouldn’t be splits when a bunch of creative talent gets together. No limit, Old era Bad Boy, Recent Dipset news, Cash Money, Roc a fella, Death Row. Blacks (only) can’t ever get together and make a bunch of money off of this music forever.

  • http://xxlmag.com DARK

    yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnn hmm……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………
    billy is a bitch……zzzzz….billy is a slave…..zzzzzzzzzzz….billy is a borin ass bitch.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • Ryan

    YO DIG UP THAT ODB JOINT FROM THE TALES FROM THE HOOD SOUNDTRACK MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL…
    LOST ME ON THIS ONE

    ^^^
    I actually have that soundtrack on cassette, I’m going to break it out and listen to it now. “Ol Dirty’s Back” featuring 12 o clock.

  • powerplay2k6

    billy i used to hate your blogs but by God over the past month or so you’ve grown and now you may be the best writer on this site

  • MZA

    um. okay.

  • BirdsFlySouth

    ODB What’s so great about being a crackhead? What’s so great about having the world at your finger tips but you choose the suck on the glass ****? That doesn’t make you a great that makes you an example of what not to be. That punk died broke and left his kids broke. Big time rap star but had to spend time in jail for failure to pay child support. If you wanta praise his music fine. But don’t talk like that fat punk was a credit to our race.

  • VLsteve

    ^^^
    well spoken

  • http://www.hoodgrownrecords.com/myhood Hoodgrown

    Damn! I never thought of it like that. Hell. yea.. the ROc was really putting it down for a while. If they had all stayed together… would Camron have kept stepping up his game.. or become the dude he is now…?

    Cartel
    MyHood – http://www.hoodgrownrecords.com/myhood
    The Adventures Of An Underfunded Hip Hop Label In It’s Quest To Be Seen And Heard!
    http://www.myspace.com/hoodgrown
    http://www.youtube.com/hoodgrown

    Real Talk: Rapper Remix Contest
    http://www.hoodgrownrecords.com/brix-contest