Comeback Season — Dame Dash FTW

Everybody loves an underdog and nobody was more counted out than Damon Dash when the Roc crumbled back in 2004. First, there was the short-lived, Universal-distributed Dame Dash Music Group, then, he kept it pushing in the fashion world for a bit with his ex-wife Rachel Roy (are they divorced yet? I’m actually not sure).

Sure, we’ve seen Dame with Jim Jones, helping to promote Capo’s Pray IV Reign; still, most folks didn’t expect the cocky executive to be back on top. But now, with a host of projects—including his new Blak Roc, Creative Control, 24 Hour Karate School, DD172 production compound—one has to wonder: is Dame on to something?

With old business models crumbling and most moguls already trying to look for the next Drake, Dash takes a different approach. Building a facility that creatively houses artists like Mos Def, Ski Beats, Jim Jones, The Black Keys, Curren$y, Jay Electronica and Stalley (don’t sleep on Stalley) doesn’t exactly sound like Jimmy Iovine’s, Lyor Cohen’s or L.A. Reid’s recipe for success; but it feels right doesn’t it?

Part of the reason hip-hop is suffering is that the shit has been feeling too manufactured for a minute. The same artists, rockin’ with the same producers, churning out same-sounding singles, recycling the same concepts; I mean, the shit has gotten real predictable. It seems to me that in order to make this thing exciting again that we have to take hip-hop back to its grassroots. Who knew bottle-poppin’, dice rollin’, Dame would be the one?

Most expected the former Roc-A-Fella Co-CEO to try to make another Hov, but truthfully that would’ve been a long road to nowhere. Instead, why not take dope artists that have been kind of ignored (for one reason or another) by the major machine and create something new and anti?

We already know that Mos marches to the beat of his own drum and Curren$y has been signed to big name labels No Limit and Cash Money, with neither working for him. Plus, Jay Electronica may be the most elusive artist EVER. But damn if they aren’t talented (I really hope this Center Edge Territory group project with the three of ’em comes out).

Back in September, when NYC was celebrating Fashion Week, I bumped into Dame in Macy’s and he was going on about this Blak Roc project, it sounding interesting as hell (XXLMag.com eventually broke the story—shouts to J. Gissen), but I had no idea everything would snowball into this.

The fact of the matter is that it’s still too early to crown Dame’s latest endeavors successful. Still, there is strength in a union of like minds. I mean, the old business model and major label record system is broken down already, and it seems in order to win and sustain and uphold artistry, folks have to try something totally different. I can’t say that I know exactly what Dame has up his sleeve next (seems like some of this is just being made up as he goes along), but in 2010 I won’t bet against him. What do y’all think? —Rob Markman, The Deputy!

  • WILL

    HE WON’T COME UP ON TOP, COMPARED TO JAY AND HIS ROC NATION

    • James

      Maybe not but i have a feeling dame got something going on i been checking the videos he got something going. and dame probaly do a lot more than these labels are doing now a days artist. how many get money and clubs records can you take.

    • kellz

      Fuck Jay its his turn to get fucked. He shitted on every nigga he could to get to the top. And its the same with Diddy bitch ass. I hope Dame hop on a plane and shit on them faggots!!

      • valdez

        co-sign to an extent. honestly, i could care less what happens with dame, but i really would LOVE to see jay AND puff FOLD just off the strength of how they’ve capitalized at everyone else’s expense.

  • LOL

    If throwing on a pair of nerd glasses , leeching of young ny blipsters and ass kissing fringe indie rockbands for a hipster co-sign is considered a comeback , then so be it.

  • http://bookibluntz.tumblr.com/ Booki Bluntz

    You have to respect Dame Dash as a Businessman. He sees opportunities to capitalize and seizes them. He’s taking artists who have large fan bases despite major label marketing and media standards and giving them a platform to receive the respect and attention that is in most cases long overdue. Roc Nation can eat a dck. Fck the majors!

  • capcobra

    bottomline is dame can’t stay behind the scenes..if he could then he’d still be good…plus that sticky fingaz verse kinda tuff.

  • DetroitDraper

    Im highly anticipating that Curren$y, Mos and Jay Elec album

    MAYN HOL’UP

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    The n*gga never left…but HOPEFULLY he’s humbled…

  • datdude

    name 1 sucessful artist jay put on u cant name any when the roc was hot it was mainly cause dame was pushin dem jay aint even push jada and he was already a sucessful artist and lets not evebln talk about wale….

    • RDS

      Jay co-signed Kanye before Dame did. Kanye’s Rocafella connection goes back to Sigel’s “The Truth” record. Dame wanted the beats; despite an initial “whatever”, Jay eventually saw the “genuis”.

      Jada’s main project lies with Ruff Ryders and The Lox. Those projects are still on the table and that’s where his loyalty is. However, as a solo artist, Jada did what was best for his career. The move to a larger major with more visibilty (the co-sign from Jay ain’t exactly a small detail) helped him turn in some decent numbers on his recent effort (I really don’t get into the conspiracy theories of labels purchasing thousands of records for their artists…there’s no real profit in it for them).

      Jay also introduced The Neptunes, and Just Blaze to mainstream music via the “Roc La Familia” album. Didn’t Just Blaze just have several major singles, including T.I.’s “Live Your Life”? And weren’t The Neptunes just named producers of the Decade (not that I agree, but my opinion doesn’t change the fact)?

      And even though Vol. 2 went 5x platinum, Jay boycotted the Grammy because he felt DMX should’ve had the nomination. I’m still failing to see how he’s a crab and a horrible person for that…

      I can name you quite a few artists Jay’s co-signed that may not have had multiplatinum success, but managed to put artistry and craftsmanship before the dollar. And how exactly did you manage to connect Wale’s situation with Jay-z? Wale’s signed to Interscope and Allido (Mark Ronson). We’ve known how horrible Interscope has been handling its artists for awhile now and they’re the one’s responsible for the shipping of the music. The fact that they undershipped Wale and he still landed on Billboard 200 at #3, selling over 28,000 of the 30,000 albums physically on shelves is good sign that Wale could achieve a moderate level of success as compared to many other new rappers with far greater amounts of marketing dollars behind them. Wale didn’t have a major single ala’ Kid Cudi, but he’s locked in his core audience. He can only grow from that. He was repped 2009′s House Band at the VMA’s and as of December 5th, he’s 3 spots ahead of Kid Cudi in the rap category on Billboard’s chart (#34 overall).

      I’m not sure how you gathered he’s somehow a failure because of Jay-Z, but I hope some of you don’t actually believe the bullshit ya’ll write.

      -R

      • DETROIT

        @ RDS, you gave jay credit for a lot of shit that he had no part of. you must be a jay fan! not tryin to diss, but do a lil research before you start crediting Jay for EVERYTHING! I gotta go, but i’ll correct you on one thing…NORE PUT THE NEPTUNES ON! Remeber superthug, oh no, etc?

        • John Cauner

          I would say Mase/Puff put The Neptunes on. Remember that track “Lookin’ At Me?” That came out in ’97. But of course, Nore linked up with them in ’98.

      • NotoriousAGC

        to my knowledge i could be wrong but i remember someone sayin DAME put kanye on for jayz, jayz originally just wanted to eat his beats and sleep on everything else..
        your notoriously wrong about a whole other stuff we just dont know where to start(or like me am too lazy to go one by one with you about)so…just keep your bp3 record on loud so you cant hear OUR reason.. aight?

      • RDS

        @ Both of you above,

        I NEVER said Jay put the Neptunes on. I said Jay was the vehicle that introduced them to the mainstream. There’s a big difference between the mainstream audience from the time Mase was hip-hop to the time Jay-Z came into his own as hip-hop. Jay was about to do The Hard Knock Life Tour when Mase dropped the “Double Up” album. That album was a complete failure in every regard (The Neptunes were on Harlem World…I know…I remember dancing to that “Lookin’ At Me” shit…lol). Mase left for the ministry. Jay moved on to Vol. 3. The biggest difference between time period’s was consistency. The Neptunes got a shit-load of work after that single. Up until then, they were still relative unknowns.

        Nore had a hot single, true and in no way shape or form am I trying to take that away from him. But nobody knew who the Neptunes were. It just so happened that Jay had the right lyrics and Pharrell, Chad and Hugo had the perfect beat and hook because they all benefited. “I Just Wanna Love Ya” was Jay’s first single on the Hip-Hop chart to go #1 (apparently…and all this time, I thought it was “Hard Knock Life”). That elevated the focus that much further.

        And yeah, I’m a Jay fan, but then, I’m a fan of a lot of different people. That said, I’m a Jay fan because I see how he allows people to be creative without attempting to control said aspect. For example, I’ve physically watched A&Rs dictate how someone is supposed to dress, sing, behave, etc. for the sake of the dollar. Jay’s gotten to a certain point financially and people start saying that’s all; he’s selfish and won’t let anybody else eat. 50 was talking about how fast Jay had Drake on a track, but shitted on his own artists, but Jay’s feature on Lupe’s “Food and Liquor” was a MAJOR co-sign for a relatively new guy (to radio, anyway). He also co-signed Mike Shinoda’s “Fort Minor” project, like…wtf? The rapper in a rock band? This dude’s lost his marbles. But it’s funny, the same people that trashed that album just gave Gucci Mane the biggest co-signs I’ve ever seen. FOH…

        I just feel like people aren’t actually looking at any particular situation objectively and they’re running their mouths and other people, instead of thinking for themselves, are taking those ideas to an entirely different level. For example, the whole “called the cops” thing. NOBODY actually saw Jay call security, (not saying he didn’t though), but Bean’s running around pointing fingers. Didn’t he JUST say “believe half what you see, none of what you hear?” And now he’s got 50′s battery in his back? That’s stupidity in action, to me. No grown man should ever allow another grown man to think for him, whether it’s about music or which of your two bathrooms to take a piss in every morning. Period.

        And thank you to the both of you for actually being respectful in your rebuttals.

        -R

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

    Damn shame. Bol has 2 posts yanked in one week.

    Talk about an abusive relationship…

    Anywho, Dame has been around the “game” long enough to have some good connects & insight of the business. Men like that don’t just go away (see: Storch, Scott). I don’t doubt he has some tricks up his sleeve.

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      Word is bond Bol is being Toby’ed by XXL…

    • that nigga

      @ Tony $$’s: Damn, I missed the second blog they pulled. What was that about, fill me in?

  • http://slaprap.com Don Elevation

    Man, I hope Dame makes it happen. He made mad mistakes in the past but who hasnt. As long as we get some good music then its all gravy.

  • John Cochran

    This post is ironic because I just copped like my 3rd copy of Sigel’s B Coming album last night. It made me really miss the Roc era and how hard Dame got behind his artists. He let Beans be himself that whole run. The game needs guys like Dame. Hopefully he’s successfull with these new projects, if not financially then at least make some really good music. On another note, please hold the Jay comparisons. they’re two different men with different ideas. Jay wants to be the biggest thing in the world while Dame concentrates on keeping his independence and bucking the system.

  • http://theinfamoussyndicate.blogspot.com/ Noles506

    Anyone who says shit about that Blakroc album in the negative sense, you didn’t listen 2 it..or your just a flat out moron, shit is dope.If you have listened to it or even heard about who may be on it….it’s obvious the man has respect amongst a majority of his peers….that can’t be bought.

  • Brooklyn

    dame is a smart dude, he’s gonna find some way to get back in business. but word, mos, jay electronica, and curren$y on the same album is bound to be fire.

  • BIGNAT

    if dame can get Jay E working on a regular basis it will be over.

    “The fact of the matter is that it’s still too early to crown Dame’s latest endeavors successful”
    no because i think dame is like fuck the super paper strategy big pimping not happening no more. he going back to grass roots with the people he got. break like even on the albums make on all the cash on the road and features. make good music so that lead into other things. mos def seems to have a good relationship with undercrown. limited edition tees with every album drop dame can make this work. the return of the cakeaholic the smart cakeaholic.

  • yeah

    At the end of the day he had the artist as a manger. They might not be as big as Jay-z but the mass seen the exposure. Big L , Jay-z , Kanye , Jim Jones. Just to name a few. Roc-a-fella was the poster child for alot of people today. Dame and biggs open that door for Jay to be what he is today

  • http://www.myspace.com/dresproduces D-Res

    Stalley is in Center Edge Territory…you wrote three mcs, but it’s four…

  • http://www.paemepromotions.com JMack

    I follow all those artists named more than any signed to rocafella so i think on the big scheme of things jay will always be balling but this IMO is going to churn out better music. may not lead to anyone being on oprah but better music is all we need right now really no einstein formula.

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  • TeedyBum3wd

    Fuck Rock&Roll!! Is this what Hip Hop has come to? The Rebirth, Dame, and Onyx? After centuries of having mainstream (white) America follow our trends, we’ve now reverted to following them. Who are these dudes’ braintrust? Who is telling them that its best to make white music to appeal to white america? Make the shit from your heart and soul and everything will be fire.

    • MXL

      Blacks created Rock & Roll. For argument’s sake, one could say rock’s just goin’ back to those who created it.

  • Young 50

    Cosign DatDude I be saying the same shit about jay never putting anybody on for the longest but nobody listening. When they split in 2004 everybody who went with Jay either didnt sale or never came out at all. Selfish ass negro!!!!!

  • GregSIDE

    I never been a huge fan of Dame but I respect dude. Shit like this is what Hip-Hop needs. 4 the Fans and Artist. 2-3 years ago everybody was talking about Hip-Hop needing to go back to its grass roots. It’s about time somebody wit some clout did it or is trying to anyways. I ain’t saying Dame’s gonna be Hip-Hops savior, though I’d love to see Hov’s face if he was, but it’s a start. Hip-Hop is in a cycle and where we’re at right now is fucked up. The “industry” is not gonna fix it so it’s up to people, like Dame, who’s been in the game and knows what’s what. So I say to Dame, Fuck the Big Pimpin’ and bottle poppin. I say leave all the old shit alone from the Roc era. All of it! Well… except that fuckin dance you do. That shit’s great. There’s 2 things that separate you and Puff. You don’t rap and talk all over the records and when you dance in a video it’s funny as hell.

  • HR

    How is he hip hops savior, and the Blacroc project aint move units, also if he really is a exec. why cant he scout and discover and break new talent, those people he got been out and aint never move units thats why they been aroud to a lot of different label

  • Chris(rocarican)

    He might have his own way but the game aint the same without him. Alot of imitators, and haters shit this nigga is good money. where rocnation at shit, who on da roster, beside the same old recycled flow. “Where did the originallity go in this rap game”

  • lil dizzy aka junior jabbi

    ok all those artist are hugeeeeeee minus stally done knoe homie hes gunna be back on top no tyme flat we are gunna hear something new exciting. we can only go along for tha ride real talk

  • http://www.myspace.com/slotchmusic ms_spittuh

    I think its funny when niggas dont realize that if it wasn’t for Dame and Biggs there would never be a Jay-Z. What goes around will come back around. Dame is the person that I have always rooted for and he will be back on top…

    • Curtis75Black

      Basically because all they saw and heard was the emcee !! That’s why every fan of the “Rocafella” brand followed Jay. Dame and Biggs don’t rap. Easy to comprehend.

      • Sincere

        How about there would be no Dame and Biggs without Jay. There would be no Jay, Dame or Biggs without Clark Kent.

  • txl17

    Great post, Rob. It is interesting to see Dame Dash make his big comeback in such a peculiar way. Dame always has a trick or two up his sleeve; that’s what being a good business man is all about. Whether or not his intentions with all these incredibly talented indie acts are noble,well, only time will tell.

  • Wess

    I hope things work for Dame. As far as trying to compare him to Jay as far as business is concerned, STOP! You can say what you want about Jay as far as who he didnt put on. The fact of the matter is Jay-Z the artist, kept the ROC alive for years and kept Dame paid. Them other guys, from Siegel on down werent making no cash. Where is all of the former ROC members now? They arent with Jay and they arent with Dame either. Jay is doing his thing and that’s great. Dame is trying to do his thing and that’s great. I hope things work out for Dame.

  • esco702

    Jay Elec ppl if you never heard sons music your not hiphop welcome back Dame.

  • Vic De Zen

    Don’t sleep on Dame. Rocafella Records wasn’t successful just because of Jay. You have to know Dame did a great deal of marketing for the record label to make such significant profit even before signing to Def Jam.

  • FrankTalk

    Combat Jack called it. Dame is back like muug.

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