NEW YORK — The dynasty will never be the same, Damon Dash says — the Roc isn't what it used to be.
Of course not, it can't be. The principals of the company sold their interest in the storied hit factory, and Jay-Z has been appointed president and CEO of Def Jam (see "Jay-Z, Dame Dash Sell Roc-A-Fella Records; Jay Named Def Jam Prez "). Many people speculated where exactly that left his partner Dame Dash, and on Friday Dash shed a little light on his plans. He said Jay may own the name Roc-A-Fella, but he'll be taking the artists with him.
"For the artists [already on the label], like a Beanie Sigel, N.O.R.E., Joe Budden or Cam'ron, I will control their projects," Dash said. "The same way Lyor [Cohen] was still controlling Def Jam and Jimmy Iovine was controlling Interscope, it's just that it'll probably be under a different name. They gave Jay the name.
"[The artists] will be with me through Def Jam," he added, "but I'll still control their projects. Probably 'cause Roc-A-Fella don't mean the same thing to me no more and I don't control the name, I'll probably put [the projects out] through a different name. I'm not gonna build value in a name I don't own. It's a different kind of movement now."
In the immediate future for Dash, he said, is putting out a myriad of artists in the first quarter. N.O.R.E.'s One Fan a Day is slated for January, the official Ol' Dirty Bastard album is coming out in February, and the next Beanie Sigel album should be out in February or March. Beanie himself, according to Dash, should be out of prison by May and ready to promote the film "State Property II." Dash confirmed that Cam'ron has the option to become a free agent, but said he and the leader of the Diplomats are still very close and Cam has asked him to stay involved in his career.
"He doesn't want to operate in that system anymore," Dash divulged. "I'm cool with it. I would even be cool with letting him go 100 percent without me. He's shown he can be a boss and control his own destiny. Cam, he's like my little brother. Whatever he wants to do, I'm gonna allow him to do. Like him doing all those records on Koch, that was direct pass from me" (see "Cam'ron: Fly Guy").
Dash also said passing the Roc-A-Fella torch is going to be strange.
"It's like seeing somebody else drive your car, but it's kinda old," Dash explained. "The reason I don't have the car no more is 'cause it's time to move on and drive a new one. It might be a little weird seeing [an artist] represent Roc-A-Fella — if that be the case — that I don't feel represents Roc-A-Fella."
Dash also made it clear that his onetime label partner will not be his boss. While operating in the Def Jam system, he'll deal directly with Island Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid.
"Jay is the president of Def Jam. That's Kevin Liles' old job. I never dealt with Kevin Liles. That's why I had such a problem with people acting like I was underneath that infrastructure. One has nothing to do with the other. I never had to ask Def Jam for anything. Lyor ran the Island [Def Jam] music group. Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella were two equal entities under the Def Island umbrellas."
While negotiating their buyout, Jay and Dame worked as separate entities as well.
"The negotiations was sketchy because me and Jay negotiated separately," Dash said. "I would have rather we negotiated together. We negotiated our new deals separately. A lot of times they were using that thinking that me and Jay had a beef against each other. They were like, 'Jay said this.' I'm like, 'Get outta here, Jay would never say that.' I would have rather we do it together, but negotiations are hairy regardless. I watched Russell [Simmons] and Lyor go through it and it was hairy. It's the nature of the beast. I'm happy with the outcome of it."