The day the Rocafella Records empire(well mainly Co Founders JayZ and Dame Dash) officially made their split came across as a total shocker to many. Here was a small record company that got formulated into a major conglomerate in the mid to late 90s. JayZ whom is a solo rap superstar opened up doors for the Rocafella brand as they would soon conquer the clothing business with Rocawear as well as start their own brand of movie productions, vodka, along with breaking new acts such as Kanye West, The Young Gunz, Beanie Sigel, Freeway and many others
The Roc had everything on lockdown and had the potential to be the next Hip Hop superpower similar to Death Row Records in the early 90s. They had the backpackers(Kanye West), The thugs(Beanie Sigal) the acquisition of Camron and the Diplomats along with a megastar in JayZ and an aggressive take no prisoners co partner in Dame Dash. So the question remain is how or where or why did everything go wrong so fast?
Since there have been so many stories and opinions over the years on this breakup. I’m gonna take the devil’s advocate approach and break down my opinion with some undeniable facts on the two that are mainly responsible for the breakup. I’m gonna start off with JayZ:
The tension between Jay and Dame seemed to have started around 2002 when Jay went on vacation. While Jay was away, Dame went ahead and started making moves without JayZ’s input. The start of the relationship turning sour was when Dame announced to the world that Camron was gonna be the Vice President of Rocafella. Jay and Camron seemed to have issues dating back to 2000 where Camron took a jab at Jay on his Let Me Know Single.
There were also instances where the Diplomats may have made some very sly remarks that didn’t sit well with Jay and the company. Example is on the song Dipset Anthem where Juelz Santana wanted to pop “one shot for Cam for taking over the Roc” may have further infuriated Jay as well considering that he already planned to have the Vice President position for Memphis Bleek. But the two did the song Welcome to New York City and whatever animosity between Cam and Jay seemed to be put under the hatchet.
The song could have been a big hit but for some reason JayZ backed out of doing a video with Camron for Welcome to New York City further igniting rumors of hidden tension going on between both Jay and the Diplomats.
JayZ would soon grow more into power as an artist and found interest in taking a new position as Def Jam President. JayZ while a brilliant business man for himself showed his ruthless side once he aligned himself with the same people who Dame Dash was torturing(Verbally) and humiliating. Jay would show his vengeance by shutting down the Diplomat projects as well and proceeded to go after Dame for Rocawear, The label, and exchange that Dash would give Jay the masters to his first album Reasonable Doubt. Dash refused claiming that “This was a representation of their blood, sweat, and tears coming up together” and ended up getting everything takened from him by Jay.
My opinion on the situation is that I feel that Jay was wrong for going behind Dash’s back and cutting deals with the same people who Dash felt were trying to violate their relationship. It showed a lack of character and loyalty considering Dame while could be a pompous asshole showed loyalty to Jay over and over by taking on Greedy executives, A&Rs and even his own artists to keep the Roc Independent. Despite the fact that alot of Jay’s decisions whenever it been blackballing, shelving and rarely promoting artists, JayZ still today is one of the highest selling artists in the rap game as well and eventually crossed to megastar status. This had to be a bitter pill for Dash to swallow.
JayZ’s former right hand man and probably one of the most fearless business men in the rap game was heavily responsible for the rise and fall of Rocafella as well as Jay was. Dames heart was in the right place and was one of the few in the game full of cutthroats and snakes that was willing to die for his company and his principles. He didn’t mind giving people a piece of his mind when they got out of line either:
While Dame’s heart may have been in the right place, It was his inflatable and reckless business decisions along with his indulging spending habits that may have done more harm than good for the Roc. There were also factors of Dame’s ego becoming more of burden as he would just sign any random artist and give them a Rocafella chain just to be doing it. Dash spent lot of crazy money on guys like Nore, M.O.P, ODB, Peddi Crack, and even had Twista wearing a Rocafella chain and he wasn’t even signed!
The Rocafella split became so ugly that everybody was taking sides during the split. The Diplomats decided to roll with Dame in their war of words with the New Rocafella. Kanye West, Freeway, Young Gunz Peddi Crack and a few others decided to roll with JayZ in thinking it was a better opportunity since Jay sold himself so well as a hustler/businessman. Beanie Sigal would flip-flop back and forth over the years as he would side with Jay on his battle with the Diplomats. Beans and Jay had a fallout then that started a new beef between them two thats been going on since this past winter:
My opinion about the whole thing that it’s just sad that another black owned label crumbled before our very eyes out of jealousy, greed, egos, and not playing right by the game. Both parties whenever it be Jay or Dame are just as responsible for taking the company into high heights as they are making the empire crumble. It was like watching the movie Casino where both Deniro and Pecsi lost their fortune and allowed their entire conglomerate to fall out of pettiness, egos, and being sloppy. If both would sit down, work things out and reunite then it would be a win win for the culture but right now its very unlikely.