How Damon Dash got Roc-A-Fella Records back
If I’d known that any ol’ douche can resurrect the name of a defunct record label, I would have relaunched Roc-A-Fella Records myself a long time ago.
Alas, Damon Dash beat me to the punch. He recently gave an interview to MTV News in which he explained to them why he decided to relaunch Roc-A-Fella, and it sounds like his claim to that label is hardly any more legitimate than my own. Yeah, he co-founded Roc-A-Fella back in the mid ’90s, along with Jay-Z and that other dude (who must have had pictures of Jay-Z doing something gay); but it’s a well known fact that Jay-Z let the TIs talk him into paying Dame Dash $20 million or some shit for his stake in Roc-A-Fella, Rocawear, and anything else the two of them may have co-owned, back when Jay-Z was installed as the straw boss at Def Jam, Because obviously they couldn’t have had two black guys drawing a substantial paycheck at the same time, and Jay-Z was seen as the most useful of the two of them, even in a label exec capacity. Damn.
Now, you guys know I was pre-med (which is to say I did a lot of self-medicating, for the culturally illiterate amongst us), but I’m pretty sure that was meant to be the end of Damon Dash’s association with Roc-A-Fella Records, regardless of what would ultimately become of the label. But to hear Dame himself tell it, the rights to the label now revert to him, since Jay-Z isn’t doing anything with it.
And I quote:
“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.”
We know Dame didn’t actually go to Universal and purchase back the rights to the name Roc-A-Fella, because (a) I’m sure the crack team over MTV News would have thought to mention it; and (b) how in the fuck is Damon Dash gonna buy the rights to the name of a famous record label, when everyone knows he doesn’t have any money? A story in New York magazine a while back broke down the current state of Dame’s finances: It might look he’s still got some of that $20 million left, because he’s got that fancy art studio/illegal concert venue down in Tribeca (or some place expensive – I don’t know NY like that), but he doesn’t. He’s still just as broke as he was back when it was revealed that he couldn’t make the note on his Chevy Tahoe. The guy who owns that DD172 building lets him stay there for free, probably in hopes of getting hit with some pussy shrapnel. In that article, it sounded like the place was crawling with extremely tall, extremely skinny modeling chicks, probably drunk and high as shit. Even Mos Def was said to have been walking around with a Rolling Rock, though he later wrote angry letter refuting the claim.
It’s worth checking out the video of Dame announcing the resurrection of Roc-A-Fella, just to get an idea of his thought process at this point. It looks like he may have just spent the entire day smoking weed, and then it occurred to him: why not just relaunch Roc-A-Fella? He’s sitting next to this guy Curren$y (presumably Dame’s attempt at another Jay-Z, per the line on “Lost Ones”), and I don’t know if it’s because he’s from the South, or he was just really high at the time or what, but he sounds downright retarded. He actually kinda sounds the way deaf people sound when they try to talk – like maybe he got his hands on some of the weed that guy was trying to sell Katt Williams. (“This shit right here, nigga!”) Curren$y’s album Pilot Talk(?!) is set to drop June 15th, on Roc-A-Fella Records. Whether that means Dame secured real distribution, or if this is just gonna be a mixtape with the Roc-A-Fella logo on its cover art remains to be seen. Either way, he’ll probably be receiving a call from the legal department at Universal. If his phone is still on…