When Dame Dash starts talking you have two options: 1. shut up or 2. shut up and record. In AllHipHop's exclusive interview with the always loquacious entrepreneur, Dash reveals to us his tips to becoming a successful businessperson through his retelling of good, bad and ugly business stories. Check out Dame Dash's Rules For The Successful Businessperson below:
Don’t Invest Unless Your Heart Is In It
By the summer of 2010, Curren$y, Stalley and Big K.R.I.T. performed at Dame Dash’s Blu Roc Festival, made music videos with his Creative Control and were frequent visitors of Dame’s DD172 organization. By Spring of 2011, all had signed major label deals. By February of 2012, less than two years after first working with Curren$y, Dame Dash was sued for releasing Muscle Car Chronicles following Curren$y’s signing with Warner Bros, which entitled the label to exclusive rights to his music.
I only invest in my friends. I didn’t invest in Curren$y, or Stalley or any of them. They were just coming around and making music.
Back in 2012, Dame’s attorney stated “Curren$y’s defection from DD172 caused my client to suffer damages in excess of $5,000,000 to his business reputation.”
All those guys, I gave them platforms, from K.R.I.T. and on, but when they got hot, I didn’t see them no more. [Laughs] I don’t know, I must be that creative sucker. They all came through, got deals and never came back and broke bread with me. I don’t know, seems like the artists sometimes turn into corporate once they get with corporate.
Don’t Be Afraid To Sue
Dash's old business partner Jay Z once said "rap game, crack game, ain't that different, ya know" and could have interchanged "crack game" with "film game" and Dash might still agree. Following Roc-A-Fella Records' 2004, Dash spent a considerable amount of his money investing in two movies: the Lee Daniels-produced The Woodsman and the Lee Daniels' directed Shadowboxer. A decade after his first investment in a Lee Daniels project, Dash says Daniels' duplicitous business actions have been so "flagrant" that he may be forced to break a rule he seldom has in the past: sue another Black man.
Be Corporate Without Being Corporate
Here’s an overview of the two sides of Dame Dash’s life from 2008-2013:
-Sold 50% stake in Rachel Roy to Jones New York (June 2008)
- Started DD172 and Executive Produced a Billboard Top 10 Rap Album Blackroc (November 2009)
-Relaunches Roc-A-Fella Records (w/ Curren$y’s Pilot Talk as first release) (May 2010)
-Started motor oil company called Dash Motors (September 2011)
-Opens 1st art gallery in Hong Kong, Poho 66 (March 2013)
-Wife filed for divorce (March 2009)
-Beanie Sigel Alleges He Has Documentation Showing Dame Dash Stole $11 Million From Him (December 2010)
-Admits He Owes Over $2 Million In Tax Debt (August 2011)
-Sued by Curren$y over illegally releasing Muscle Car Chronicles after Curren$y signed with Warner Bros. (March 2012)
-Claimed To Be On Verge of Eviction Amidst Financial Debt (May 2013)
Both sides make up the entirety of Dame's life, however what is not as publicized is Dame's quiet formation of a mutlilayered media company:
What I have been doing the last five years is lining everything up where I can do every single thing on my own. From making music, making fashion, making movies, everything. I don’t want to have to ask somebody to cut me a check to make a record. I didn’t want to have to ask someone to cut me a check to make a movie. I definitely did not feel like asking someone to cut me a check to be doing fashion.
According to Dame, public perception is often times skewed and should not influence a successful businessperson's actions too drastically. However, Dame also accepts the racial aspect of the skewing of public perception for successful Black businessmen but laughs it off:
By 2003, Dame Dash’s legacy was that of a volatile record label head with a penchant for aggressive persuasion techniques(to put it lightly) and five years ago the world got a taste of that side of Dame. In the infamous footage of Dame Dash berating Def Jam employees, Dash claimed “they trying to take our franchise from us” as Def Jam execs held a marketing meeting regarding Jay Z and failed to inform Dame via telephone(he admittedly did not check emails back then).
You have to understand, I put Kevin Hart in business. I put Lee Daniels in business. I put Jay in business. I put all these people in business. I don’t feel a way. I don’t feel no connection with making money with them moving forward but I do expect a certain level of respect.
Creativity Is King, Trust Is Queen
In the past 10 years, Dame has had former artists, directors, record label execs and even his ex-wife has had issues with him, but Dame still understands the value of trust. Dame's continued trust is a result of a man who says his business model is to "do cool sh*t and then once I do it I figure out how to monetize it". Dame understanding that paradox of being independent is that in order to truly achieve it you need other people:
I start companies, I create companies, but my agenda is not to run them because there are too many companies that I have under my umbrella. First, I’ll run the cash register, figure out how to run the store. Then I’ll hire somebody so I know if they robbing me or not. But, I can’t sit in the store all day.
Dash says his Poppington Art Gallery, curated by Raquel Horn, David Chang and Dave Barnett, is an example of the good that can happen when blind trust meets creativity: