Roc-A-Fella Records was founded by Damon Dash, Kareem “Biggs” Burke and JAY-Z in 1995 under the Def Jam Recordings umbrella. Responsible for albums such as JAY-Z’s The Blueprint, Kanye West’s The College Dropout and Memphis Bleek’s The Coming Of Age, the legendary Hip Hop imprint was one of the most lucrative labels in late ’90s/2000s rap. Ultimately, Roc-A-Fella crumbled due to rumored friction between Hov and Dash.
But according to a recent interview with the Social Proof Podcast, Dash says JAY-Z’s real issues were with Burke — not him.
“The reason Roc-A-Fella Records broke up in the first place was ’cause he didn’t want to break bread with Biggs no more,” Dash explains in the clip. “I was like, ‘Yo, we could start something different,’ but I can’t do that to Biggs. He didn’t want Biggs to be a part of it anymore. That’s what happened.”
He added, “They weren’t speaking for like two years and no one knew, though. I don’t know why they would want to devalue my third — I don’t get it.”
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JAY-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records sued Damon Dash in June for allegedly trying to auction off JAY-Z’s 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt in a non-fungible token (NFT) form. Although the auction never took place, Dash was accused of “frantically scouting for another venue to make the sale” in efforts to cash out what he feels he’s owed.
Dash quickly fired back and claimed the lawsuit was “full of inaccuracies,” pointing out it’s not just Reasonable Doubt he’s trying to sell. Rather, it’s his entire one-third stake in Roc-A-Fella Records.
He says JAY-Z attempted to buy his share of Roc-A-Fella in March at a price he “deemed unacceptable,” so he was looking for another buyer. When and if he finds the buyer, Dash said, “Under the terms of the deal with a potential buyer, the buyer would buy my share of Roc-A-Fella Records and JAY-Z will have exclusive administration rights.”
Dash believed the lawsuit was simply “a scare tactic to prevent him from selling something he believes he has the legal right to sell.”
Days after the lawsuit was made public, JAY-Z commissioned “multidisciplinary” artist Derrick Adams to carve out a Reasonable Doubt NFT to be unveiled on June 25, exactly 25 years after its initial release, almost like a slap in the face to Dash.
While Biggs has been silent on the matter — at least publicly — he admitted he wasn’t a fan of JAY-Z early in their partnership during a December 2020 interview for Kevin Durant’s The ETCs with Kevin Durant podcast.
“Actually when I heard Jay early on, I wasn’t even, I wasn’t necessarily a fan,” he said. “It wasn’t until Jay battled DMX and I became a fan. And he started to talk more. Before that he was real lyrical and had a different, you know, talked about different content. And then, there he was talking about things that resonated with us, you know. I became a fan then.”