Back in the day, Damon “Dame” Dash, Jay-Z, and Kareem “Biggs” Burke formed Roc-A-Fella Records in 1994. They signed some of the biggest artists, becoming leading forces in the music industry, with billionaire Jay-Z as their largest. The label that signed Beanie Siegel, Memphis Bleek, Freeway, Cam’Ron, and more, was dismantled in 2004 and became a subsidiary of Island Def Jam Music Group.
Dash spoke about their former empire during an interview with Tony the Closer that was uploaded this week. The music veteran was asked if he regretted anything about their beef and if they “could have had more together.”
“Yeah, all that, but we were friends,” said Dash. “So I just didn’t want to hurt him as a friend. Like, how would you feel if your brother just betrayed you for money? Would it hurt?” He added, “That’s the algorithm.”
Dash said he wasn’t as surprised at how things happened because “that’s what always happens.”
“That’s what it was. We were breaking the algorithm, we were doing it a different way and sticking together, but that’s what always happens,” he explained. “They make one sell out the other, their friend, divide and conquer, that’s a normal story.”
He said he was caught off guard considering he and Jay were such good friends who “never argued.” He said he had no clue what was coming in regard to the early reports they were mad at each other. He claims it was “some slick s—t” but that’s what comes with the territory.
“Name a good n—-a that didn’t get stabbed in the back…That’s why you a good n—-. Pause. You’re not gonna do everything someone does. You’re gonna let your guard down,” Dash stated. “The only people that can hurt you — ’cause you don’t let people next to you — are the people closest to you.”
When asked what he hopes his legacy will be in 50 years when people bring up his name, the music producer and filmmaker said he wants to be remembered as one of the greats.
“You know, like Alexander the Great. You know, the one that lived longer … a conqueror. A person that fought wars for the ones that he loved,” the 51-year-old shared. “I don’t want to be known as an actor or singer or entertainer. I want to be known as someone that rumbles.” He added, “I like to fight.”
After their split in the 2000s, Dash and Jay’s continued feuding over the future and direction of the label. Jay eventually went onto become president of Def Jam, while Dash stayed with Roc-A-Fella. Last year the pair were battling in court after the rapper alleged the Harlem native attempted to auction off his 1996 debut album “Reasonable Doubt,” as a non-fungible digital token, NFT, without his permission. Dame denied the claims, as previously reported, and accused the “Big Pimpin'” rapper of trying to buy him out of his ownership for $1.5 million.
Despite their troubled past, the Roc Nation founder gave Dash a shoutout during his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech in November 2021.
“Shout out to Dame. 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,” the 52-year-old expressed. “And shout out to Biggs. He’s one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met. We created something that will probably never be duplicated.” Afterwards, Dash expressed that he wanted to officially quash their beef.
The legal battle over “Reasonable Doubt” was resolved in June. Court documents reveal that Dash is prohibited from selling the album as an NFT, since all rights are owned by Roc-A-Fella Records.