Damon Dash Talks Being Stabbed In The Back + His “Beautiful” New Movement

Interesting interview with Hip Hop mogul Damon Dash in Village Voice this month, exploring his regret of the superficial messages encouraged by his lavish past, how the Roc-a-Fella empire crumbled and his feelings of being “stabbed in the back” – plus a look at his current, organic movement with DD172 and its roster of artists including Curren$y, who recently released Pilot Talk.

Some excerpts from the feature:

‘He now regards the Roc-a-Fella heyday with some regret: “I didn’t really understand the ramifications of being so influential, of saying things that could potentially be negative,” he says. “At the time, it was about getting money at any cost and talking about buying nice things that most people couldn’t afford. I think it put a very superficial mentality into the world. If you’re rapping about doing criminal things, the majority of your fans are criminals or fans of criminals.”

‘Tension had been mounting for more than a year, starting when Dash appointed Cam’ron, a crony from Harlem, one of the label’s vice presidents, while Jay-Z was vacationing in the Mediterranean. Eventually, 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.”‘

“I wasn’t aware of this beautiful movement of artists that stick together, that don’t rap about negative things,” he says. “They have swag, style, and they’re with me because they love the fact that I preserve their independence. I’m not exposed with them. I didn’t have to give them any money to get down with me.”

“He’ll be bigger than anyone I’ve ever worked with,” he says with conviction undiminished by the statement’s unlikelihood. To him, things are always possible: “A lot of things I’m saying now will not resonate to the average individual for five years,” he says. “So five years before it happens, I sound crazy.”

Read the full article over at VILLAGE VOICE