NEW YORK — Damon Dash officially began life after Roc-A-Fella on Wednesday (January 26), holding a press conference to unveil new ventures in music, sports, fashion, film, jewelry and electronics.
At first it felt more like a party than a press conference as freestyles from Dame's new mixtape blasted through club N/A by everyone from Joe Budden and Raekwon to Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek. Industry tastemakers, athletes and artists all filled the club as Dame and company took the small stage.
Dash's biggest announcement was the formation of the Damon Dash Music Group, which will be distributed by Universal Records and will incorporate several smaller labels under its umbrella. Included under the Dash-led group will be N.O.R.E.'s Militainment Musica, producer 7 Aurelius' Dream Factory, M.O.P.'s First Family and an unnamed label spearheaded by the RZA that will release a posthumous LP by ODB. Dame also said Beanie Sigel has a label within his structure and strongly hinted that the Dash Music Group may be the new home for Diplomat Records.
"I was thinking to myself, 'What can I do to compare to what we just did with Roc-A-Fella as far as being a label and empowering people who deserve to be empowered?" Dash said after the conference. "I affiliated myself with people who deserve to be empowered. I affiliated myself with people like 7, Noreaga and RZA and gave them labels."
One of the first acts coming from the Dash Music Group will be the Dream Factory's female act, a soul singer/gypsy from London named Anita. There's also a movie in the works called "The Dream Factory," loosely based on the life of 7.
The press conference started with Dame and boxing promoter Lou DiBella announcing they're joining forces to form Dash/DiBella Promotions. The roster of boxers they will promote and market include Andre Berto, Jaidon Codrington and Curtis Stevens; the latter two are managed by Chris Gotti.
Gotti, who had been in court earlier Wednesday with his brother Irv answering to money-laundering charges (see "Irv Gotti Pleads Not Guilty, Released On $1 Million Bond"), showed no signs of being shell-shocked. He was all smiles as he took the stage with his fighters.
Dame spoke of the Gottis as being stand-up individuals.
"I think it's unfair," Dash said of the indictments. "I don't think they should black-eye our culture like that. I think Irv Gotti will stand strong, and I'll stand by him. Once he gets through this, I think he'll be an amazing force in the business as he has always been. I grew up with Irv Gotti as far as the business. He taught me all about it and he's always been a good friend."
On Friday, Dash is releasing his new Pro-Keds sneakers to stores and soon to follow will be a new version of the Roc Box portable music player with a color screen and a line of watches.
Dash also said he and Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield, who was in attendance, are putting their heads together on a line of Pro-Keds for the slugger. "I've always admired him from afar," Sheff said. "I like the way he conducts himself, businesswise."