During his and Hitmaka’s conversation on DJ Self’s Apt. 5H show, the Harlem rapper reflected on the gaping hole that the label’s breakup had on East Coast rap, particularly in the Big Apple.
The collective had a stronghold on the region with the level of talent they had on its roster, and according to Capo, the damage that was done following its dissolution was lasting.
“The confusion at the Roc-A-Fella breakup did a lot of damage for New York music,” he said. “Remember, Roc-A-Fella had so many different types of music. They had The Diplomats, they had State Property, they had Brooklyn shit. They really had a strong hold on East Coast music, so when that shit started to happen…”
Hitmaka chimed in to say the label even dabbled in the reggaeton market thanks to the Roc-La-Familia sublabel, which released N.O.R.E.’s Latin-flavored album N.O.R.E. y la Familia…Ya Tú Sabe in 2006.
Roc-A-Fella’s time at the top of the Hip Hop mountain in the early 2000s was filled with classic albums, memorable beefs and plenty of success. At one point, the label was stacked with heavyweight talent from JAY-Z, Kanye West, The Diplomats, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, State Property and more.
The magic didn’t last long, though, as the label went through some difficult moments during their prime. In 2002, JAY-Z teased his retirement following the release of The Blueprint 2, prompting co-founder Damon Dash to go on a spree signing several rappers to the legendary imprint.
Once Hov accepted a position as the CEO and president of Def Jam in 2004, the label would begin to lose its footing. The Roc-A-Fella breakup became official when Jay, Dame and fellow co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke sold their stake in the label to Island Def Jam. Since Jay was president, he retained control of the label and his masters, leaving his former partners with nothing.
Dame and Biggs formed their own label, Roc4life (later called Dame Dash Music Group) and each artist on Roc-A-Fella was given a choice to decide which imprint to join.
During an appearance on Math Hoffa’s My Expert Opinion earlier this year, Young Chris of the Young Gunz said Jay came to him and Freeway while on the road and attempted to persuade them to join him, informing them that this “shit about to be over.”
“I remember Dame was telling me to do a solo project,” the State Property MC recalled. “That’s kind of why I went with Jay, you know? My loyalty to Neef [Buck]. We already did the first album and I’ma follow up, you feel me? That was my situation.”
He added: “I think back on it sometimes ’cause I never looked at it as being the Bobby of the group. Dame was probably looking at the shit, but we went with Jay and we did what we did.”