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‘I Was Always Confused By That’: Dame Dash Speaks on the Rift Between Him and Jay-Z Being a ‘Chess Move’ and Not a Years’-Long Beef

Hip-hop fans may be the only people waiting for the seemingly long-standing rift between former friends and business partners Dame Dash and Jay-Z to come to an end. 

The two men who co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records, along with Kareem “Biggs” Burke in 1995, have been publicly distant and at times at odds since the early 2000s, when the label owners parted ways. The fallout between Dash and Jay-Z has been the topic of speculation throughout the years, from the breakdown of ownership of the Roc to disputes over the rights of the rapper’s first album “Reasonable Doubt.” But for Dash, the turmoil has been strictly business and not a by-product of friends turned foes who let money and notoriety come between them. 

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 08: Damon Dash attends The 2015 Grammy Awards: SESAC Brunch at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles At Beverly Hills on February 8, 2015, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

“Jay and I never had a beef, number one, it just got made up or maybe it was just leverage so certain things could happen,” explained the mogul on the Showtime podcast “All The Smoke,” hosted by former controversial NBA stars Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. 

From comments made by Dash during interviews and Jay-Z’s mention of his former friend on the record “Lost One” — where the artist, whose real name is Shawn Carter, raps “I heard m—s sayin’ they made Hov, made Hov say okay so make another one, n—s wasn’t playing they day role, so we parted ways like Ben and JLo“— any interaction between the two has been perceived as anything but copacetic. 

“And I was always confused about that. I’d be like ‘Why everyone keep saying we’re beefing?’ ” But I guess it was a move, a chess move. One I wasn’t expecting,” said the “Paid In Full” co-producer.

He continued, “It was always a business thing for Jay. He just said, ‘Why pay two other people when I can just pay one?’ And he went with that. On a business level it could have been the right move, but on a friendship level I didn’t appreciate it. I don’t really care so much about business; the friendship always meant more to me than anything. It was our bond as friends so it was hurtful. The business was hurtful.”

Hurt feelings and bruised egos aside, fans and Hov acknowledge that there was an undeniable time when the duo was making the most waves in hip-hop. When Hov was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October, he made sure to acknowledge Dash in his acceptance speech. In part, the “Roc Boys” emcee said, “I know we don’t see eye to eye, but I can never erase your accomplishments, and I appreciate you and thank you for that.”

While onlookers hoped the shoutout meant the two men were finally getting back on good terms, Dash however, did not read that far into the mention. “It was cool. It was good for the culture,” he said during his “All The Smoke” appearance. When asked how the mention specifically made him feel, he added, “I was happy for the culture. I was happy about how happy it made so many people.”

Beef or not the two men are still embroiled in a fight over digital rights of Hov’s first album “Reasonable Doubt” — Hov, Dash and Biggs each own a portion of the 1996 album’s masters, despite the dissolution of a working business relationship. In June 2021, the Grammy Award-winning rapper sued Dash, alleging he attempted to auction a digital NFT of the album. Dash claims he was only attempting to auction his portion of rights to the album.

Last month, it was reported the former business partners were in talks of settling the NFT legal battle. However, Dash shut down any speculation of the legal feud coming to an end with a single post on social media. “Please don’t believe the hype we are no where near a settlement..they accused me of doing something I did not do and now they have to prove it…and I can sell my share anytime I want #askhejudge and #jayz and @biggsburke if you wanna settle this holla at me…we use to hustle together…count is corny…let’s talk like me for the culture…I dare y’all to respond #doitfortheculture.”

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