It’s hard to meet your financial obligations when you’ve lost everything
In an undated photograph posted on Dame Dash’s Instagram, Dame, Jay-Z, Kareem “Biggs” Burke and Russell Simmons all wear ill-fitting, possibly “irregular” clothing that may have been purchased from Ross for Less.
The three co-founders of Roc-A-Fella Records may have just signed a joint venture with Rush and Lyor’s Def Jam. It’s a tradition in the music industry to pose for a photograph after signing a recording contract.
There’s a famous photo of Russell Simmons, Run, DMC, a white guy and a random Hispanic guy, the day Run-DMC signed to Profile Records. The white guy, like his descendant Lyor Cohen, is dressed in “normcore” fashions. The Hispanic guy has a Hüsker Dü mustache and could be the white guy’s sex slave.
Run still has a full head of hair and that lecherous gaze he had before his emergency conversion to Christianity. Morally, if not legally, you would have been at fault if you brought your girl around him and something bad happened to her—but I don’t want this discussion to be sidetracked, especially in light of what happened to Cee-lo Green.
Jam Master Jay doesn’t appear in this photograph, because he wasn’t really in Run-DMC. Run and DMC paid him a straight fee to DJ, rather than a cut of the royalties, and that’s why he had to resort to trying to be a drug kingpin later in life and ended up getting killed.
In the Roc-A-Fella Records pic, the four black guys’ facial expressions range from mildly upset to deeply upset. They definitely don’t look like four people who just made a shedload of money. Lyor Cohen, on the other hand, looks as happy as a gay guy at the YMCA.
To hear Dame Dash tell it, this is because Lyor Cohen is happy to be making money from the black guys’ authentic experiences; they’re upset they can’t make any money from him because he’s never done anything cool a day in his life. His background, apparently, is as plain as his wardrobe.
Look how happy the culture vulture Lyor Cohen looks to be getting money off all of us and our authentic experiences… We’re all mad cause we can’t make money of his him cause he never did anything cool ever…I wonder what sell out from our culture that has been employed by them for years is gonna stick up for him like@djfunkflex did for that clown joi It’s funny how they try to make us fight each to take the focus off them robbing the us…Old trick and I m not going for it… Let’s keep the focus on them… The divide conquer game is over…”
That was the caption of the pic on Dame Dash’s Instagram. It was part of a series of posts in which “culture vultures” were put on notice. Funkmaster Flex and Joie Manda, mentioned in the caption of the Lyor Cohen pic, came in for abuse in their own separate posts.
In the caption of the pic Dame posted on Instagram, which I think really captures his essence, Dame refers to him as being a culture vulture’s dimwitted assistant, the charge presumably being that Manda doesn’t have the talent manage a record label, and yet has ascended to such a position anyway on the basis of being a culture vulture.
This clown right here is joi manda… I’m not even going to give him the respect of calling him any type of ceo… Hes is like the culture vultures Dimwitted assistant that does what he’s told… I’m putting him on blast because I’ve personally witness him start war between two creatives from the same culture so he could benifit… Which is what they always do… Divide and conquer… You would think when 2 young guys have a problem with each other the older guy would sit them in a room and squash it…
That’s actually less than half of it. It’s decidedly lengthy for a caption of a pic on Instagram. The fact that he would spend the time it took to type it on a smartphone keyboard, typos notwithstanding, goes to show the importance of this issue to Dame.
Though perhaps he should have spent more time clarifying his thoughts before he began tapping away at his screen. The rest of this screed is in a similar vein, and reading it doesn’t bring you any closer to understanding what his beef with this guy.
My guess is that Dame is upset with Manda, who goes by Joeyie, because Joeyie got in Curren$y’s ear about the fact that Dame never paid him for the music he put out as part of Dame’s DD172 arts collective, not to be confused with Didi7, the stain remover featured in a popular infomercial in the 1980s, and the fact that Dame probably wasn’t authorized to release a Curren$y album in the first place.
Curren$y was Dame’s last best hope to make any money in the music business, and now here Joeyie was trying to drive a wedge in between him and Dame just because Dame never had any intention on actually paying him. When white people don’t have any intention on paying an artist, it’s known as a major record label. When black people don’t have any intention on paying an artist, it’s known as an extortion racket. I can kinda see where Dame is coming from here.
When Dame split with Jay-Z, back in the mid ‘00s, he claimed to be worth $50 million. He owned several homes all over the world and thousands of pairs of tennis shoes. He paid a black guy to hold an umbrella for him as he got out of his $400,000 Maybach, as photographed by New York Magazine. That black guy’s kids may have seen this and not thought the same of him ever since.
Sidebar: If you’re worth as much as some of these hip-hop moguls, should you hire a black guy to hold your umbrella, like Diddy’s “manservant” Fonsworth Bentley, or should you hire a white guy? On the one hand, hiring a black guy, is creating a job for the black community at a time when the black community needs all the jobs it can get. On the other hand, hiring a white is the ultimate in ballin’—it’s humiliating for white people because it’s the exact opposite of slavery.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, which is arguably as accurate as Forbes and covers people who don’t have enough money to be mentioned in Forbes, Damon Dash’s net worth is currently negative $2 million. That is, roughly $2 million less than I have.
It’s possible Dame owes even more money than that. He gets sued on the reg, by his various baby’s mothers, by people he’s borrowed money from and even by the lawyers he hires to try to get some of these matters settled.
However, I’d imagine he’s come to some sort of understanding with the IRS. Because the IRS don’t play that shit. You can’t just show up with proof that you don’t have the money to pay the amount that you owe, like in traffic court in St. Louis County—they’ll throw your ass in jail!
The State of New York must not be allowed to throw people in jail for owing money on back taxes, or they’ve got some sort of system in which your wages are garnished until you’re paid in full. It’s like child support, in that sense.
I know a brother or two here in the STL who hasn’t gotten a refund check since the 1990s . . . and I suspect that this is cutting into sales of the Xbox One. Bill Gates might need to “politic” with Barack Obama on child support reform: it’s officially fucking up the economy. That’s what his foundation does, right, look for ways to fix the economy and maybe add a few dollars to his own pockets? I’m not mad at the brother. I’m just saying. Are these resources being put to their best use?
Dame used to have not one, but two apartments in Tribeca, near where Jay-Z and Beyoncé live. If someone needed to come over and make it so that the bathtub drained properly, he didn’t have to sweat finding something to do outside the house. This was the ultimate in excess.
Those properties have long since been foreclosed on. Before Dame lost either of them, his Chevy Tahoe was repossessed, after he fell behind in payments. This may have triggered the foreclosure on the apartments. Sometimes people who own multiple $10 million apartments have issues with “liquidity,” but what’s the likelihood that someone who has a note on a Chevy Tahoe will ever have his financial affairs in order?
Then, for about three years, Dame lived in a swanky rental property somewhere off in the suburbs. It looked like a mini ski resort, with a huge swimming pool out back and its own recording studio, in case Dame wanted to record an entire album’s worth of him ranting and raving over sped up ‘70s stadium rock anthems, like on the song “Champions” from the Paid in Full soundtrack. It’s something he probably should have considered.
Dame soon fell behind in the rent and ended up fleeing in the night, which I know is illegal in areas with a lot of shitty apartment complexes where college kids and Indian people live. He left behind dirty clothes, drug paraphernalia and a Bob Ross-like landscape portrait that sat on a mantel above a fireplace.
Since then, word on the street is that Dame has been sleeping on someone’s couch in Brooklyn. If that’s true, and if he’s not kicking in any rent, or at least doing the dishes and occasionally making himself available sexually, then technically, that means he’s homeless.
But so is any number of grown black men. Again, I can see a double standard at work with regard to how black men with a certain lifestyle are portrayed in the media. When a black man wears a bathrobe all day long, it’s assumed that he has no prospects. When a white man wears a bathrobe all day long, it’s because he fucks too often to wear pants—because he’s got so much money, and girls are attracted to guys who have a lot of money. There’s just something about them.
Lyor Cohen drove a wedge between Dame and Jay-Z the same way Dame accuses Joeyie of driving a wedge between him and Curren$y, ultimately resulting in Dame having to sleep on some guy’s couch in Brooklyn. Dame was paid handsomely to sever ties with Jay-Z, but of course he didn’t have the sense to live within his means, and because he didn’t have Jay-Z anymore, he couldn’t make any more money.
Lyor first approached Jay-Z about kicking Dame to the curb back in the early 2000s, probably because Dame is such an asshole and he didn’t serve much of a purpose in his role as co-founder anyway. Nothing he’s done since then suggests that he has any real business acumen.
You can get a glimpse of what it must have been like working with Dame inBackstage, the documentary film about the Hard Knock Life tour. There’s a scene where he’s arguing with Def Jam exec Kevin Liles about jackets the label distributed to all of the artists on the tour that say Def Jam, as if Def Jam organized the tour, not Roc-A-Fella. Never mind the fact that all of the artists are signed to Def Jam and only some of them are signed to Roc-A-Fella, a subsidiary of—you guessed it—Def Jam.
Kevin Liles didn’t have the sense or the self-esteem to just be like, “Fuck you, you diabetic piece of shit,” and walk away. The conversation was being filmed, so there was no risk of Dame doing anything illegal (and getting away with it), and Kevin Liles, an exec with Def Jam, of which Roc-A-Fella was a subsidiary, was nominally Dame’s superior.
That’s why Kevin Liles is a powerful exec in the music industry, and I’m just a guy who sits around in his underwear making fun of people on the Internets. He still works with Lyor Cohen to this day, and I don’t even think Lyor has a company anymore. Kevin Liles is his own personal equivalent of Memphis Bleek.
Kevin Liles is with “the program” to the point where he’s gradually come to resemble Russell Simmons the same way gay guys who live together for a certain period of time come to resemble one another. 20 years ago he didn’t look shit like Russell Simmons.
Jay-Z refused Lyor’s offer to buy out Dame’s stake in Roc-A-Fella because he thought it would be disloyal to Dame, whom he started out with, back when the major labels didn’t want shit to do with Jay-Z—which was why they started Roc-A-Fella Records in the first place.
But the offer didn’t bother him to the point where it seemed to have any adverse effect on his relationship with Lyor. Jay and Lyor continued to work together for years after that and are said to remain friends to this day, whatever that means.
If Dame was aware of this at the time (I only read about it years later), that should have been his first clue that he wasn’t long for the Def Jam building. Lyor Cohen is relentless: he somehow managed to drive Rick Rubin away from his own company and then install himself in Rubin’s place. And how difficult can it be to drive a wedge between two black guys?
The following summer, Jay-Z went on an extended vacation in Europe, and Dame took it as an opportunity to fire several people from Roc-A-Fella Records and install Beanie Sigel and Cam’ron as vice presidents.
That Beanie Sigel shouldn’t be the vice president of the Hair Club for Men, let alone a multi-million dollar record label, I think goes without saying. He’s spent the past 10 years in and out of prison for a litany of offenses, and I suspect that he fucks guys in the ass on the inside. We’ve all seen that video where he was looking at Peedi Crakk a certain way.
Cam’ron doesn’t have the sense god gave geese either, plus I don’t think Jay-Z ever really cared for Cam’ron. Dame, who grew up near Cam in Harlem, was the one who signed him in the first place. Jay-Z didn’t like the idea of sharing the spotlight. That’s why he keeps Memphis Bleek around.
Lyor Cohen was probably sitting in the wings licking his chops the entire time. He may have even given Cam’ron the idea to seek an exec position at Roc-A-Fella. I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s a Machiavellian thinker. He’s almost certainly read The 48 Laws of Power, and he might be single handedly responsible for its popularity in hip-hop circles, and by extension, in prison.
The three Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders sold their remaining 50% stake in the company to Def Jam for $10 million. Jay-Z became president of Def Jam, and Dame and Biggs were given their own ill-fated Def Jam vanity imprint, the Dame Dash Music Group, which lasted for all of about a year.
So, all told, maybe he ended up with $25 million, $10 million of which was in cash. That’s quite a bit of money, and enough that Dame should have never ended up sleeping on some guy’s couch in Brooklyn, strategically avoiding sexual advances, but it’s not as much as you’d think he should have gotten.
Remember when he used to go around saying Rocawear was a $700 million company? How come they didn’t get $700 million for it? Obviously, that $700 million probably represented gross revenue, probably based on some overly generous back-of-napkin calculation, but still.
When I studied business in college, I’m pretty sure I read that if you sell a company, the amount of money you receive should be the amount of annual revenue times some amount x, with x varying depending on what industry it’s in. The restaurant industry, for example, has a fairly standard multiplier. I can’t remember what the actual amount is. I didn’t pay any attention in college. That’s how I became a blogger.
Whether or not the company turns a profit, or a very big profit, is neither here nor there. People buy companies that aren’t profitable all the time. Hence the tech bubble. It’s on whoever bought the company to try to squeeze a profit from it.
Rocawear, IIRC, sold for $200 million. If Dame only received $22 million of that, that must mean he only owned some small fraction of the company. Jay, Dame and Biggs combined may have only owned one-third of Rocawear, which would explain how Dame ended up with 11% of $200 million, i.e. $22 million.
How in the world they arrived at $200 million as a sale price is beyond me. If it really is some multiple of annual revenue, than means annual revenue was way TF lower than the $700 million Dame used to quote.
Lyor himself left Def Jam to become the CEO of the Warner Music Group, where, according to Dame, he invented the 360 deal. The 360 deal is a bullshit record deal the major labels came up with to try to recover some of the money lost from illegal downloading.
In a traditional recording contract, an artist receives a hefty advance against royalties, plus regular royalty payments once the amount of said advance is recouped . . . which effectively meant that an artist received an advance from the label and never received any money from the label ever again. But at least they got to keep whatever they made from touring and any other business opportunities that might arise.
In a 360 deal, not only do you not get any royalty payments, or the rights to your intellectual property once you’ve recouped, or anything like that, but the label gets a percentage of your touring, any endorsement deals you might sign, and probably anything else you can possibly do for money short of giving someone a blowski in an alley.
My old friend Lupe Fiasco is signed to Atlantic Records, which is under the Warner Music Group umbrella. He says he was the very last artist signed before they started giving out 360 deals, and because they don’t stand to make as much money from him, they just plain won’t take his phone calls. He’s had to resort to trying to sell verse on Twitter for $500—but I suppose it beats sucking someone’s dick in an alley.
Joeyie worked under Lyor Cohen at Warner Music Group, signing weed carriers and b- and c-list southern rappers to 360 deals. He counts among his best signings Paul Wall, Bun B, Wacka Flocka and Rawse’s weed carriers (but not Rawse himself). That’s why Dame refers to him as a culture vulture’s dimwitted assistant.
He’s since ascended to much higher profile positions, including the Def Jam presidency, vacated when Shakir Stewart shot himself in the face after listening to Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak, and now the head of urban music at Interscope, maybe the top job at a rap label. The artists he’s signed aren’t any good, so that gives you an idea of how lucrative those 360 deals must be for the label.
Before he was with WMG, he was some sort of assistant to Funkmaster Flex. He was the guy who brought the Funkmaster scarves and water, for when his throat was parched and his brow was sweaty. The Funkmaster let him have sex with his little sister, as a show of appreciation. #possibly
Because they’re practically related, Funkmaster Flex didn’t take kindly to Dame putting Joeyie on notice on Instagram. He responded by spending just shy of a half an hour on the radio ranting and raving about how Dame isn’t relevant anymore, how he should stick to art, how he should leave Joeyie alone and giving a brief history of Roc-A-Fella Records for the benefit of people who were born in 2002 who nevertheless listen to Funkmaster Flex.
As I remarked at the time, there’s something unseemly about a black man jumping to a white man’s defense so adamantly. I don’t care if it’s someone who’s come to pick you up from jail on multiple occasions and help put your kids through college. If he’s that good a friend, he should understand why you can’t be out here “caping” for him in public.
In it, Dame pleaded with Funkmaster Flex to bring him on Hot 97, where they could get to the bottom of his problem with Joeyie and why Flex felt it necessary to jump to Joeyie’s defense so vociferously.
On the one hand, Dame disapproved of Flex going in on Dame on the radio, for upwards of half an hour, no less, but on the other hand, here Dame was going in on Flex on Instagram, not to mention his posts on Joeyie and Lyor Cohen.
Hey @djfunkflex would not have an issue with another man over another man… I believe a man should speak up for himself and I really hope you would never desrespect me over another man I’m 43 so what I will do is give you an interview live where you can ask me any question you want and joi can as well…I was wondering who was gonna defend him from our culture… Funny that’s is you but…but I think you should have called me out of respect…but well talk about that face to face like men…your over 40 as well
It’s likely that Dame didn’t have anything to say to Flex on air that he couldn’t have said on Instagram, or in various interviews on YouTube and elsewhere, but the thing is, if Funkmaster Flex let Dame come up to Hot 97 way more people would have paid attention — and of course that’s what this is all about.
Flex, on the other hand, didn’t stand to benefit nearly as much. He could generate ratings by going off on Dame without Dame being there in the studio. To have Dame there would only be to run the risk of Dame saying something that could damage Flex’s close personal relationship with Joeyie, which could have negative business implications.
Joeyie spent years bringing Flex his scarves and water, and Flex repaid him by allowing him to put his name on one or two of those mixtape albums he put out in the mid to late ‘90s, those relics of a time when impressionable kids could be duped into buying all kinds of worthless bullshit. I had at least two of them, and one of them—the first one—I honestly did kinda fuxwit.
Now that Joeyie has ascended to perhaps from the most prestigious position in all of black music that doesn’t have to do with maintaining Beyoncé’s wigs, Funkmaster Flex is in a good position to benefit from Interscope Records’ largess. Don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of bombs being dropped on songs by Will.i.am that are also cell phone commercials.
Enter Combat Jack, host of the eponymous Combat Jack Show, a podcast. Combat Jack seeks out opportunities to insert himself in the middle of online controversies, for marketing purposes. He doesn’t have to sweat running afoul of top execs at major labels, because he’s about as far removed from being “in the industry” as Dame is.
Combat Jack and Dame came up together in the industry, back in the dark ages. Combat Jack was an entertainment lawyer. Dame, still in his teens at the time, was in artist management. He had a cousin, Darien, whom he worked with, and his cousin had a father or an uncle or something in the industry.
Dame had a couple of groups that no one ever heard of. One of them was the first group Ski Beatz was in, the guy who did a lot of the production onReasonable Doubt and Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night, and one of them was the group that did that song “Can I Get Open?,” featuring Jay-Z. Or maybe that was the same group, and the other group was altogether unremarkable.
At any rate, Combat helped Dame secure major label deals and thus pocket perhaps as much as $75,000 as essentially a kid still. Rather than investing that money, in case he needed it to get an apartment in his 40s, Dame spent it all and ended up having to borrow money from Combat, foreshadowing what happened to the money he got to sever business ties with Jay-Z.
Combat helped Dame put together a single deal with the company that put out “In My Lifetime,” and an album did with the obscure subsidiary of Priority Records that put out Reasonable Doubt. At that point, Dame probably ditched Combat to work with Jewish lawyers. That’s Combat’s usual explanation for why he stop dealing with big name clients and why he eventually grew tired of the legal profession.
Truth be told, I consider myself resolutely pro-black, as evidenced by the African name I go by on the Internets, but if I’m trying to negotiate a business deal or I’m trying to avoid getting locked up, I want a Jewish lawyer. When it’s your freedom or your livelihood hanging in the balance, you can’t afford to take any choices. Call me racist if you. I’ll be a racist: a FREE racist.
Combat’s clients’ unwillingness to entrust him with some of their most lucrative business deals could be behind Combat’s obsession with white privilege. Most episodes of the Combat Jack Show include at least 40 minutes of Combat rambling about white privilege.
Sometimes co-host Premium Pete chimes in, which is especially fun because Premium Pete is as inarticulate as he is unwilling to accept that he benefits from white privilege. Where was this white privilege when he was in prison? The two episodes with Touré (the white Touré) are not to be missed.
Dame Dash was already on the Combat Jack Show once before, and that episode was right up there with the Touré episodes. His most recent appearance, the vaunted Return of Dame Dash episode is almost unlistenable and seemingly interminable. Dame sat there for a good three hours and failed to explain why he continues to try to bait white rap label execs on Instagram.
Much of the first Dame Dash episode of the Combat Jack Show consisted of Dame bullying then-co-host Just Blaze. The Combat Jack Show has 14 former co-hosts, some of whom had to be let go when Combat thought he was about to make a lot of money giving out offer codes, and some of whom didn’t like repeatedly being shushed and silenced by Combat as if this were elementary school.
It seemed like it might be cool having Just Blaze as a co-host, but the most he ever did was help bring in Memphis Bleek, and I’m not sure how difficult that was. He can’t have very many demands on his time. Sometimes the conversation would turn to something having to do with the inner workings of the music industry, and Just Blaze would have to recuse himself. The most he could ever tell you was some shit you could read in Wikipedia.
Just Blaze is a beta male by nature. You can see it on display in that MTV special in which Jay-Z clowns him for spending all of his money on vintage video games when he should have been working on beats for The Black Album. Or was that the movie Fade to Black? What I didn’t realize until I heard this episode of the Combat Jack Show is, that’s probably what every day of Just Blaze’s life was like.
One time Dame order Just Blaze to loop up Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” for that song “Champions” from the Paid in Full soundtrack. Just Blaze took his sweet time working on this, as if the machine doesn’t do the sampling for you. If Dame knew how to read the manual, he could have just done it himself. Dame kept asking Just Blaze if it was done, and Just Blaze would say he was still working on it. Finally, Dame gave it to Kanye, who turned it around in no time at all.
One time Just Blaze spent several days in a row in the studio, probably agonizing over some asinine sample-based production the same way it took him forever to loop up “We Are the Champions.” Then he had to go to some event. Rather than going home to wash his ass and change clothes, he went to a department store to by a New York Jets jersey. All the store had was jerseys with iron on letters, not “authentic” jerseys where the numbers are sewed on. Dame is still giving Just Blaze shit about wearing a fake Jets jersey to this day.
One time a gay-looking rhinestone belt showed up to the studio, where Just Blaze apparently got his mail. Just Blaze says it was something a designer sent over unsolicited and he didn’t have any plans to wear it. Dame Dash didn’t seem as certain. Arguably, the fact that the fashion industry thought Just Blaze might wear such a belt speaks volumes to their view of Just Blaze. When you get some shit like that in the mail, it’s time to pause and reflect.
This may have honestly been the only time in my life when I’ve heard a grown man getting bullied by another grown man. Just Blaze seemed to be at a loss for how to respond. If you listen closely, you can hear him mumbling under his breath about how he now has more money than Dame and how he knows karate and could probably kick Dame’s ass, like Milton Waddams threatening to burn down Initech if Bill Lumbergh didn’t bring back his stapler.
The 43 year-old Damon Dash looks like he could randomly die from something that would be a minor inconvenience for all but the infirm elderly. Like, if his socks were too tight and they cut off circulation to his toes. He’s got scrawny legs like either he doesn’t always get enough food to eat or his body is no longer capable of processing it correctly, and he’s got some sort of weird rash on his face.
Just Blaze probably could put a shoe on Dame Dash, as could some women, but Just Blaze knows better than to let Dame drag him down to his level. He’s with the same program as Kevin Liles. He doesn’t look as much like Russell Simmons, but he’s cut all of his hair off and cultivated a similarly gaunt, sex offender-like visage in his old age.
The Return of Dame Dash episode mostly consisted of Dame spouting his business philosophy, which is just terrible. I knew better than to take anything he said seriously, and I still feel like I’m in an even less stable position financially as a result of listening to it.
One of the main things Dame believes is that you should never, ever save money. He believes you should spend every dollar you get as soon as you get it, or else you won’t be motivated to make more money.
This is the same philosophy espoused by people who commit petty crimes in the street like mugging someone or breaking into someone’s house. Coming up on some money behind a crime like that is known as hitting a lick, and the idea is to spend it all as soon as you can, because if you keep it and get caught 5–0 will just rob you for it.
Dame Dash is long since removed from committing petty crimes in the street and should remain so, if only to avoid tripping over a crack in the pavement and dying, but he also has an incentive to avoid accumulating money. Namely, if a judge somewhere found out, I’m sure there’s a long line of people he owes money to.
Dame is also very adamant about putting up his own money. Making a lot of money from a business venture doesn’t really count to him if you didn’t put up the money to start the business in the first place.
I’m not sure where Dam Dash got this idea. It could be that, because no one with the sense god gave geese would be willing to do business with him, he doesn’t have a choice but to fund every company he’s invested in out of his own pocket.
Anyway, he’s all wrong. There was a unit on entrepreneurship in a class I took in college called Business Policy, and one of the main things we learned is that you should never put up your own money, if you can help. We learned the exact opposite of what Dame was saying on the Combat Jack Show.
Jay-Z, if you notice, rarely puts up his own money. Part of his deal with Live Nation was a huge sum of their money that he could invest as he saw fit. If any of the investments worked out, he got to split the profits with Live Nation.
As I recall, someone from Live Nation said this was a terrible deal for them, in an article on Jay-Z last summer in New York magazine, and they wouldn’t be doing any more deals like that. According to the transitive principle of mathematics (probably), if it was a terrible deal for Live Nation, it was a great deal for Jay-Z.
Jay tried to talk Universal Music into a similar deal before he bolted the Def Jam presidency for Live Nation. They weren’t going for it, probably in part because they just plain didn’t have that much money to throw away. Trying to sell rap CDs in 2014 isn’t nearly as lucrative a business as promoting tours by washed up corporate artists.
Damon Dash is a firm believer in not discussing or otherwise paying attention to another man’s business affairs, and that might be what’s keeping him from adopting some of Jay-Z’s more effective, successful business strategies. Or it could just be that he can’t stand to think about how much money Jay-Z has. And he doesn’t want anyone scrutinizing his own finances, because poverty.
So much of the Return of Dame Dash episode was just Dame, on the one hand, criticizing someone like Funkmaster Flex for working for a company for years without owning it, and then on the other hand, suggesting it’s not in a man’s nature to count another man’s money.
Combat Jack wasn’t in any position to point out the hypocrisy of this statement, or guide the conversation into discussion of what Lyor Cohen and Joeyie actually did to him, because Dame was too turnt up, as they say. Subsequent video interviews that ran five or eight minutes long were more or less as substantive.
At a certain, Dame essentially turned the table on Combat and began asking him interview questions. Since Dame so thoroughly put Lyor Cohen and Joeyie on notice (which he didn’t really), he wanted Combat to put a culture vulture on notice. You could hear the wheels turning in Combat’s head trying to figure out someone he could go off on.
Finally, he settled on… you guessed it, Steve Stoute. Telling a story about how Steve Stoute is a slimy scumbag is one of the show’s more popular recurring segments, up there with the 40-minute harangue about white privilege. In the past few weeks alone, Dame, Ben Baller and Cormega have all brought in stories.
Combat Jack’s Steve Stoute story involves trying to negotiate a deal for Foxy Brown’s little brother to sign to Interscope. This was back when the major labels still had more money than they knew what to do with, apparently. I mean, the guy doesn’t even have tits.
Steve Stoute, then an A&R exec with Interscope, was known for charging artists a kickback. The way it worked was, as a condition of Steve Stoute signing you to the label, you agreed to give him a substantial amount of the advance you received. He wanted Foxy Brown’s little brother to slide him $50,000.
Combat ended up having to threaten to snitch on Steve Stoute to Jimmy Iovine. He said he’d give Steve Stoute $50,000 of Foxy Brown’s little brother’s check but only if Jimmy Iovine called him and said he approves of Steve Stoute charging artists a kickback.
Years later, when Combat had essentially been reduced to blogging and Steve Stoute was out here blathering about the tanning of America, Combat ran into Steve Stoute on the street. He tried to shake Steve Stoute’s hand, and Steve Stoute gave him a limp hand with a weak grip. Combat describes it as a “scarf hand.”
I googled Steve Stoute while working on another one of these investigations, and according to the wiki, he suffers from gout, a form of arthritis. He’s like Dame Dash in that he’s prematurely feeble. If you squeezed the shit out of his hand, trying to prove some sort of point, his bones might crumble into dust.
I checked again just now, and I see the part about him having gout has been removed. I’m thinking this may have been because gout charities were hitting him up for donations, and he’s not a very generous person. Before, it said he was “searching for a cure.” The guy who had it removed is one of his underlings at Translation. He signed up for an account using his work email.
Dame Dash added several Steve Stoute stories to the canon. Really, someone should compile them all and sell them as a Kindle Single. Jeff Bezos, holler at your boy. Internets, start thinking of more-humorous variations on The Tanning of America, if that’s even possible.
Dame first became familiar with Steve Stoute, he says, when Junior Mafia used to put makeup and a wig on him while he sleeped. That’s decidedly homoerotic behavior, and regardless of why they did it, that’s the kind of thing where you have mofos on notice as soon as you found out about it. Lest we forget, this was during the same period in which Lil Cease gave a room full of guys the whirly bird, video of which later emerged on the early World Star.
Later, Dame had to put a shoe on Steve Stoute. I can’t remember what all of the circumstances were, and you couldn’t pay me to listen to the Return of Dame Dash episode again, but the gist of it is that Steve Stoute owed Dame Dash money, either from a bet or from a basketball game, or perhaps from a bet having to do with a basketball game. He confronted Steve Stoute about this in his office, while he was temporarily crippled. Steve Stoute refused to give him the money, so he slapped him in the face and told him to get TF out of his office.
Dame was lucky Steve Stoute didn’t sue him into oblivion. This was back when he still had money, but obviously he couldn’t afford to spare very much, given the situation he’s in now. As I recall, Stoute got a check out of Diddy for that time Diddy busted into Stoute’s office and broke a champagne bottle over his head for releasing the version of Nas’ “Hate Me Now” video with Nas and Diddy up on crosses as if they were Jesus. I guess it would be harder to convince a judge you should get thousands of dollars for getting slapped… when you probably owed the guy money in the first place.
Similarly, Dame Dash might have a hard time convincing a judge that Precious director Lee Daniels owes him $25 million for producing movies like the aforementioned Precious and The Butler, when Dame didn’t have shit to do with them. Dame was a producer on two early Lee Daniels movies, The Woodsman and Shadowboxer, for which he received producer credits. If he didn’t get any money, it’s probably because they didn’t make shit. Does anyone recall either of those movies being out in the theater?
Lee Daniels went on to have phenomenal financial success with his next few movies. The Butler is one of the few black-directed films to gross over $100 million. It grossed as much as most Spike Lee films combined. Dame Dash thinks he’s entitled to some of that $100 million, not because he lifted a finger in making The Butler, but because if it weren’t for The Woodsman there’d be no Butler. He thinks Hollywood works like the music biz, where you can cut somebody a check once, and you own the rights to everything they ever do in life.
Dame seemed to come up with the idea for suing Lee Daniels while he was sitting there on the Combat Jack Show, so that’s one good thing that came out of it. He may have pulled the amount out of his ass. I was surprised to see, a few weeks later, news reports in any number of mainstream media outlets that Dame Dash really is going through with this lawsuit. I guess if the amount is enough, you can probably find some lawyer to take it on for a percentage of the settlement, regardless of merit—it’s a tough job market out there for law school grads.
You get the sense that Dame was under the impression that Combat Jack was in the tank for him. He saw Combat nodding along while he blathered about not saving your money and how Lee Daniels owes him $25 million, and he thought Combat actually agreed with everything he was saying, not realizing that Combat Jack does that with everyone who goes on the show. If Combat Jack hadn’t brought on Joie Manda as a guest a week later, Dame could have used the Combat Jack Show to share his magic with America on a weekly basis the way he has with this ongoing, Frost/Nixon-like interview he’s doing with some guy calling himself Kenyatta “The Barber Walters.”
Alas, Combat Jack brought on Joie Manda as a guest a week later. I guess he felt it was only fair to give Manda an opportunity to speak his piece, after giving Dame Dash hours and hours on end to go in on him—the fact that Dame didn’t really have shit to say notwithstanding. Plus, let’s keep it real, Joeyie is the head of black music at Interscope. If he gets the sense that the Combat Jack Show is out here dissing him, or providing a platform for people to dis him, that means no Chief Keef and Will.i.am, two guests I know I’m looking forward to. Eminem is already out of the question, for reasons I could very easily get into, but this essay is already long enough that maybe no one who reads it will get to the end, and that’s an entire lengthy essay unto itself.
Manda went through the story of his career, supposedly starting out as a graffiti writer, then transitioning into bringing Funkmaster Flex his scarves and water, for when his throat got parched and his brow got sweaty, and his unique relationship with Funkmaster Flex’s sister. Honestly? He seemed like an alright guy. I don’t know enough about the music business to know if he’s qualified to have such a high profile job, or if there’s someone—or any number of people—more talented than he is who haven’t had his success, for whatever reason.
Before he was the head of black music, Joeyie was the president of Def Jam. Irv Gotti, once CEO of Def Jam subsidiary Murder Inc, who was instrumental in bringing both Jay-Z and DMX to Def Jam, campaigned hard for that job and ended up losing out to Joeyie, who signed a few b- and c-list southern rappers and weed carriers to Warner Music. I’m sure you can imagine Dame Dash’s opinion of why that was. Hint: It doesn’t have shit to do with Irv Gotti laundering drug money for Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, causing 5–0 to have to run up in the Def Jam building.
Combat Jack, who never misses an opportunity to discuss white privilege, didn’t discuss the race issue to nearly the extent I would have liked, as a cultural rubbernecker. Strangely, he seemed much more interested in discussing Chief Keef. Perhaps worried people would criticize him for lobbing softballs, he really hammered those Chief Keef questions. Joeyie, who only arrived subsequent to Chief Keef signing and hardly knows the kid, was at a loss for how to respond.
Damon Dash’s primary concern was that Combat Jack would have Joeyie on in the first place. He thought he and Combat Jack had an understanding: he’d go on the Combat Jack Show whenever he felt like it and just say whatever, and Combat Jack wouldn’t allow anyone he criticized to come on to issue a rebuttal. Ironically, Dame wanted Combat to restrict the guests for his show the same way Funkmaster Flex wouldn’t let Dame come up to discuss Joeyie. Failing to grasp this hypocrisy, Dame once again took to Instagram, where he declared that he’d never go on the Combat Jack Show ever again.
Dame’s main outlet to share his wisdom these days is the aforementioned ongoing interview with some guy calling himself Kenyatta “The Barber Walters.” Somehow that name is only four words long, and I can think of at least five things wrong with it. To date, this guy has issued more than 60 clips of Dame being interviewed, some of them as long as 15 minutes. Because I don’t work for a living, one day I watched a good 10 or 15 of them. This was a mistake. To be sure, these videos aren’t without their revelations. They’re just few and far in between. The rest is just more of the same BS he was spewing on the Combat Jack show.
In one of them, he goes in on Combat Jack. These things aren’t effectively labeled, so probably the best way to find it would be to look for the next one that went up after the Joeyie episode of the Combat Jack Show aired. Pissed that Combat would betray him in this way, Dame reveals the reason he stopped working with Combat in the first place, back in the ‘90s. He said Combat tried to fleece Roc-A-Fella Records in a deal they were negotiating with Priority Records.
I forget the specifics of it, but the gist of it is that Dame wanted a certain amount of the gross sales rather than the net sales, which he may or may not have been rightfully entitled to. Combat gave Dame a contract to sign, but before he could Jay-Z pointed out that it said that Roc-A-Fella was to receive a percentage of net sales, not the gross. Combat, presumably, was aware that the contract wasn’t to their liking but was trying to get them to sign it anyway, the sooner his check would clear.
I was also both surprised and amused to learn that Dame supposedly took Kanye West’s Roc-A-Fella Records chain back from him. You can see Dame receiving the chain in the first place, in a homoerotic ceremony, in the video for “Through the Wire.” Kanye mentions possibly having to give it back in the song “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” “People askin’ me if I’m gon’ give my chain back. That’ll be the same day I give the game back.” In retrospect, it sounds like Dame may have already took the chain from him back then, and this was his way of issuing a preemptive denial, the same way he insists elsewhere in the song that he writes his own rhymes. I think we all know how true turned out to be.
Dame says he was pissed at Kanye for not looking out for Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, whatever that means. If Kanye had been working as an actual lookout for Kareem “Biggs” Burke, he could have alerted him that the police were onto him and perhaps Biggs could have avoided being sent up for trying to cop a positively epic amount of marijuana. Now that he’s locked up, Kanye’s limited in what he can do. Dame suggests he could help take care of Biggs’ family, which makes me wonder where Biggs’ money went.
I’ve long suspected that Biggs put up the bulk of the money for Roc-A-Fella Records. Combat says Dame was broke back during that era, and Jay-Z’s drug dealing exploits were probably wildly exaggerated, or else he could have just bought Def Jam Records and given himself a deal. If the two of them had so much money, why would they need a third guy who apparently didn’t do shit the entire time he was there other than collect a third of the proceeds? In addition to the money he already had, which he used to found Roc-A-Fella, he had all of the money he made with Roc-A-Fella, plus the money he received to walk away. He shouldn’t need someone to help his family.
The fact that he would take the $3 million or whatever he received as a severance package from Jay-Z and spend it all on weed, to try to flip it, is classic hood logic and requires no explanation. The only difference between it and trying to turn a $300 tax refund check into $600 is a matter of degree. And I guess it’s not inconceivable that he could have lost everything, if he hadn’t already spent it on Bob Ross paintings and Maybachs, when he got busted. Seizing property from people with a little weed on them is an increasingly lucrative business for 5–0. They can catch you with a few weed flakes in your ashtray and own your car. It used to be, they had to go in your pockets surreptitiously, now it’s the law. Sometimes they jack people for less than a dollar in coins.
Weed is the most profitable drug you can sell, in terms of markup. You can sell cocaine for way more, but it also costs way more money to buy. Weed, on the other hand, is intrinsically worthless. Left to its own devices, it would probably grow between cracks in the sidewalk. But because it’s wildly illegal—more illegal in fact than cocaine—and so many people fuxwit, its value is ridonkulously inflated. Weed is where all the money is. The reason you don’t hear more rappers talking about it is because rappers don’t really know shit about making money selling drugs. They’re just going off of what they saw in Scarface and what they heard on other people’s records. It’s truly a matter of the blind leading the blind.
Rappers would be limited in how much they could make selling weed anyway, because most of them are black. They can hardly avoid getting harassed by the police without doing anything illegal. White soccer moms, meanwhile, are making boatloads of money functioning as transporters. They load up their minivans with that shit, probably don’t even conceal it very well, and drive it from places where it’s plentiful and easy to come by, to places like my native Missouri, where 5–0 will pop a cap in your ass for walking in the street. If I’m aware of this, law enforcement must be aware of this, but they’re not about to start pulling over every third soccer mom, because their purpose is not to prevent crime, it’s to put as many black men in prison as possible.
Jay-Z hasn’t done shit for Biggs either. As a former owner of 1/15th of 1% of the Brooklyn Nets and having written that song “Empire State of Mind,” or whatever it’s called, you’d think Jay-Z might be able to spring Biggs from the pokey. Biggs got caught with that weed in New York, right? Jay-Z has been known to look out for people locked up on drug charges. He wrote a letter to the judge in the case of some elderly black guy he used to sell drugs with, the loveable old James, saying he’d get the guy a job with Rocawear similar to Joeyie’s old job with Funkmaster Flex, and ended up getting a few years knocked off his sentence.
Jay-Z doesn’t fuxwit Biggs, because Biggs was Dame’s homeboy. When Roc-A-Fella Records split, Biggs went with Dame and participated in—or at least tacitly condoned—all of the Jay-Z dissing that went down. Dame’s argument, if I can speak for Dame here (which I do sometimes), is that Dame was the one who signed Kanye to Roc-A-Fella as a rapper, and Biggs backed Dame signing Kanye as a rapper. Jay-Z wasn’t any more interested in releasing a rap album by Kanye than he was in having Cam’ron as vice president. When Roc-A-Fella Records split, Kanye was given a choice to remain with Roc-A-Fella, i.e. to side with Jay-Z. for all intents and purposes, or to record for Dame Dash’s new vanity imprint, also under the Def Jam umbrella. Kanye sided with Jay-Z, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Byron Crawford is the founder and editor of ByronCrawford.com: The Mindset of a Champion, a former columnist for XXL magazine and the author of five books, most recently Kanye West Superstar.