Damon Dash is going to relaunch the Roc-A-Fella hip hop label after signing a distribution deal with Universal Music’s Island Def Jam division. Universal now owns the Roc-A-Fella label which was originally set up by Dash, Jay-Z and Kareem ‘Biggs’ Burke in 1996.
Mr Z will not be involved in the next generation of Roc-A-Fella, though Dame Dash says he’d be happy for Jay to have a role if he wanted one, even though Jay allegedly did a very good job of freezing Dash and Biggs out of the label venture following its acquisition by Universal in 2004. Which is very nice of the Dame. Though given that Jay-Z is currently reinventing the music industry via his multi-million joint venture with Live Nation – Roc Nation – I’m not sure he’d be all that interested in returning to an imprint of Def Jam, a Universal division he previously headed up.
Talking about the all new Roc-A-Fella, Dash told MTV that it all began with a plan for Universal and him to co-release music from rap newcomer Curren$y. He says: “Then we was like, ‘Fuck it, let’s put it out through Roc-A-Fella’. It was really more something he wanted to do. Basically, cos we havin such a good time, and the opportunity’s there, we was like, ‘Why not?'”
He continues: “Def Jam or [actually and] Universal bought the brand. I think the ‘beef’ with us and Jay-Z was that Jay made it clear he didn’t want me or Biggs to be a part of it [after Universal bought the label]. That’s really where it was at. Now that he doesn’t work for Def Jam any more, he doesn’t have the right to use the name. So there’s no reason for us not to use it. It’s there, and it’s a brand that’s not being used. So I was like, ‘I’ll take it’. It always meant something to me”.
Asked about criticism in parts of the hip hop community about there being a Roc-A-Fella Records without Jay’s involvement, he added: “If Jay wanna come through and do something, he can come holla at me. I ain’t got no beefs with Jay. Just off the strength that it’s Roc-A-Fella, I could never tell Jay he can’t be a part of something he helped create. So maybe it felt ridiculous that he said me and Biggs couldn’t be a part of Roc-A-Fella once we sold the company and a Roc-A-Fella purists didn’t appreciate that. If I walked away from Roc-A-Fella, then that would be different. But the option should always be there. So the option is there for him. He helped build that. And I don’t hold grudges. I think one of the most important things in evolving is forgiveness. If he did something wrong or if I did something wrong, we’d have to forgive each other, or we’d still be children”.