Damon Dash

In 1994 Damon Dash, Jay Z and Biggs launched Roc-A-Fella Records a Revolutionary company that battled it s way to the top of the music, fashion and entertainment industry. Now with the purchase of a vodka company and the release of Paid In Full the Roc influence will be at every party and on the big screen. We talked to Damon Dash to find out what Roc has planned next

Q: Tell me briefly how Roc-a-Fella Records got started?
A: I was managing and needed a name for my crew. My man T -Strong who was down with Original Flava came up with the name, Roc-a-Fella. While I was shopping my demos with Jay Z, I felt we weren t getting the response we deserved so we started to do things ourselves. Luckily we did this because now, instead of being a manager we now own a record company, clothing line and things like that. I think our success is due to the way we capitalized on every opportunity that was presented at the time.

Q: Was Jay with Jaz-O at the time?
A: They were always cool. Jay came with a crew.

Q: Tell me about the movie Paid In Full ?
A:Paid In Full is a true story, I personally witnessed about three cats going through different situations growing up in Harlem. As a young dude, I watched these dudes and looked up to them for a minute. In the hood everyone thought they were cool, and in some shape or form they influenced a lot of things around us. The things that happened to them changed my life. I always wanted to have the flash, the glitz and glamour but when Rich s brother got kidnapped and killed, it made me switch games real quick. I felt like if it could happen to him it could happen to anyone. I wanted people to see and understand that if you re man enough to get in the game and hustle you have to deal with the repercussions such as your little brother getting kidnapped or your mother crying because you just got kilt. I thought it was good story to do, and what came out is a movie that s well produced, well scripted and well acted. I just wish it was distributed a little bit better.

Q: Did you pick the actors and directors?
A: I picked everyone except Wood Harris. I felt like you had to be from Harlem to really understand the subtlies in this movie but he s an actor who takes his craft seriously. He studied AZ very carefully and when he showed up he showed up.

"...There can't be any problems at Roc-a-Fella right now because everyone s making money."

Q:So how s it going over there at the Roc?
A: Beautiful look at the team I have Jay Z, Beans, Freeway, Bleak, MOP, Diplomats, Getlow.

Q: You guyz are definitely in attack mode over there?
A: We are always in attack mode. I claim to be the Heavyweight Champion of the world. If any challenger steps in the circle and we engage you, feel complemented that we acknowledged you because we have been doing this for 10 years. In Hip Hop if you say you re the best you have to defend your throne, it s a very competitive game. You just have to keep things on vinyl.

Q: Why didn t Cam (Cameron) take that presidents position at the Roc?
A: As far as I m concerned he did but Cam has his own record company. I want Cam to run the Diplomats. I want Bleek to run his record company. I want Beans to run his record company. You can call it what you want to call it, titles don t mean anything but that s how it got portrayed and blown up. I see the power that we hold and every time we say something or get into an argument it s world wide press. They all have their own labels and it s really not that big a deal. Cam has his cologne and stars in movie. Beans has a clothing line, stars in his feature film and is getting ready to make a cartoon. Bleek has his own label. They are all entrepreneurs and following in Roc-a-Fella s foot steps.

Q: Is there problems between Cam and Jay?
A: Nah, there s no problems they re just two different people. There can t be any problems at Roc-a-Fella right now because everyone s making money. If there was a problem it would be ego and that s corny and we re not corny dudes. Just because two people go in two different directions doesn t mean there s a beef. I m very close to Cam and very close to Jay so how could there ever be a problem.

Q: Well Jay doesn t give him any love on interviews?
A: Well, what type of love is Jay suppose to give him?

"... I don t think I m ever going to star in anything unless I really earn it or Martin Sorsese calls me"

Q: Big him up on interviews?
A: That means Jay is suppose to big up everyone he knows. Jay just met Cam he really doesn t know him like that. Cam is at the helm of his own empire and Jay is at the helm of his empire which all falls under the same umbrella. For some reason, the press wants to make something out of nothing and that causes problems. Jay and Cam are cool, that s why they did a record together but Cam works in one studio and Jay works in another. It s really no big deal. Jay doesn t have to rap another word in his life because he has made so much money. He raps for the love of the game. Cam is trying to make a lot of money so he s consistently on the paper chase so they perform in two different venues and go in two different directions.

Q: So who did you know first?
A: I grew up knowing Cam because I m from uptown but Jay s my son s godfather, and I m like Cam s big brother.

Q: What s up with Jay s album?
A: Jay s album comes out November 12 it s a double album the s@!t is hot death. There s a high expectation with Jay, but he deliveries all the time. I have an album coming out November 26 which is a double album. Half of it is a Dreamteam album with Jay, Beans, Bleek, Freeway, MOP forming together like Voltron on one CD. Then the other CD has the movie soundtrack. The old school is hosted by Brucie B and new school is hosted by Clue.

Q: Why did Freeway s album get pushed back?
A: Freeway s album is done we are just waiting to put out a single. I m not going to put it out until it s properly marketed. Once I have a video on Free, I will put out his album. It will probably be in January.

Q: What about Bleek and Sigal?
A: Bleek s album is just about done and when you see a video on him same thing. Beans is working right now because he s doing a lot of things with State Property. He s about ten songs deep when he makes another ten it s a rap. We re also coming out with State Property 2, I m going to direct the movie this time.

Q: Any more acting projects for you?
A: I always act in the the movies I do. I don t think I m ever going to star in anything unless I really earn it or Martin Sorsese calls me for some ill role. For me to act it has to be on my terms though. I m not playing anything other than me a real cool cat.

Q: How s Clue doing?
A:Clue is doing his thing, he s an entrepreneur doing his Desert Storm. He shows up when he shows up. He s like a free agent but it s all good. When I see him I joke on him and he jokes on me and everything s cool. He s doing his own thing. I like entrepreneurs around me I don t want any yes men because when I retire I retire. I don t want anyone depending on me.

Q: What s up with your other partner Biggs how come no one ever sees that guy?
A: He doesn t want to be seen.

" I love all them dudes. It s cool when we can grow with people. I watched them evolve"

Q:What s your relationship with Irv and Ja?
A: We are all cool. Irv use to be Jay s DJ, we used to be on the road all the time. They are doing their thing we re doing ours. We didn t have the time to do it.

Q: How about Waah and DMX?
A: I love all them dudes. It s cool when we can grow with people. I watched them evolve, they have watched us evolve, now we re all millionaires.

Q: Any more movies planned?
A: I directed a comedy called Paper Soldiers and a comedy called Death Of Destiny about Jay and I. In the movie I m not playing me and Jay is not playing Jay. I like directing comedies. I m a light hearted dude but I m going to lay it down like Martin Sorsese did with Goodfellas on State Property 2.

Q: How is Roca Wear doing?
A:Roca wear is doing good 300 million good.

Q: How come Roc-a-Fella has been so successful?
A: We are honest people, we are good people,we are culture conscious, we care about our souls, we take care of our kids and we represent well for our community. We have no egos.

Q: So is that Nas stuff over with?
A: Thatís really nothing, itís just a battle. Weíre the heavyweight champions of the world and if anyone wants to step in the circle weíre going to engage. If Nas wants to go at everybody we go back at him. Itís props for Nas we even considered him for a battle because we donít engage everybody, half the battle is getting us to respond.

Q: So what did you guys think when Nas responded with ìEtherî?
A: It was cool, it took him a long time to do it. He did a whole record just because Jay did three quarters of a verse about him. He threw my name up in it that was cool because I like attention so he could say my name whenever he wants. I just think he contradicts himself on a lot of things but I can understand where his frustration lies. He owns nothing in records, owns nothing in movies, he doesnít own a clothing company and heís about to sign to Irv Gottiís label. Ten or eleven years in a game and heís living in a town house meanwhile we have drivers, cooks, yachts if I had to sign to Irv Gotti I would be sick.

Q: Where do you see Roc-a-Fella in the next two years?
A: Weíre doing movies, we are going into the liquor business. We are trying to run the world.

Q: Whatís up with that liquor company?
A: We brought a Vodka company (Roc-a-Fella recently purchased Armadale Vodka.) Itís good Vodka itís better than Belvedere, better than Grey Goose. We are sick of blowing people up when theyíre not giving us any checks. So now we are going to do it for ourself. Iím going to learn the business and the distribution like everything else, and we will see what happens.

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