Dame Dash Talks Jay-Z, Roc-A-Fella

The dynasty continues - according to Damon Dash.At a kick-off event celebrating Roc-A-Fella Record’s 10th anniversary Wednesday (November 3) at New York University, Roc CEO Damon Dash discounted rumors of a conflict between he and Jay-Z and spoke on the future of hip-hop's legendary Roc-A-Fella empire.The event opened with a performance by Roc artist Rell, followed by a presentation of Kanye West’s rap video “Through the Wire,” shown as a testament to The Roc’s "underdog mentality."During a live onstage interview with Dash, NYU Professor and journalist Jason King interrogated the Harlem-bred entrepreneur about the buzz surrounding Roc-A-Fella Records. Dash denied that he and Jay-Z have been at odds.“Jay and myself are grown men, and thorough,” said Dash. “These petty things they say that we argue about make us less of what we are,” Dash said.Dash added that he and Jay-Z are able to carry out their respective businesses and still be friends.“He’s my son’s godfather,” said Dash of their relationship. “I’m not mad at him at all.”Dash also addressed Jay-Z’s recent beef with R. Kelly regarding the now defunct “Best of Both Worlds” tour.Dash stated that he was in London at the time of the incidents, but still defended Jay-Z.“Jay’s a smart guy. I don’t think Jay would do anything stupid and that’s really just because I know him,” Dash said.As Dash promoted everything from Pro Keds to a new portable music player called the Roc Box, he compared his business ventures to street hustling.“In hustling, you’re just trying to get a buck, you’re trying to stay ahead,” said Dash. “You have to capitalize off every opportunity, so I’m hustling now.“I’m always a little paranoid about going broke,” he added.When King brought up criticism about Dash straying from his loyal urban base, with rock artist Samantha Ronson and the fashion-based magazine America, Dash responded that he was broadening his horizons.“In the same breadth that I’m putting out C. Ronson [clothing], I’m putting out Team Roc and State Property. You can’t get no harder than that.”Dash said the success of his companies is evidence of the scope and influence of The Roc on urban trends.He cited an instance when Roc co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke used to sport Iceberg jeans.“He couldn’t have the best jeans in our crew, so I had to go buy them,” said Dash. “Jay would buy them. Jay would talk about them in his rhymes, and the next thing you know the whole rest of the world is buying them.”The urban fashion movement inspired Dash to start Rocawear in 1999, now a $300 million a year empire.Dash also commented on the direction of Roc-A-Fella Records in lieu of Jay-Z’s retirement.“Jay-Z’s been retiring since Reasonable Doubt,” Dash joked. “He just dropped a record last week [Unfinished Business].”Dash went on to push artists like Cam’ron, Noreaga, M.O.P and Young Gunz, who are among the 27 acts signed to The Roc label.The anniversary event was capped off with a performance by Roc artist Nicole Wray, who sang her hit “If I Was Your Girlfriend” and an old song “Make it Hot.”Roc-A-Fella Records was birthed in 1995 by Damon Dash, Kareem “Biggs” Burke and Jay-Z, as a startup label to release Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt.The $500 million hip-hop empire now includes urban fashion companies, Dash Films, America magazine and Armadale Vodka among other ventures.