It has been more than a decade since Jay Z, Damon “Dame Dash,” and Kareem “Biggs” Burke sold Roc-A-Fella Records. The New York City label responsible for introducing the record-buying world to Jay, Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, The Diplomats, and others remains alive—only as a division of Def Jam. Its three executive founders are all apart, extending their own legacies. While Jay Z can address the breaking of the Roc on songs like “Diamonds Are Forever (Remix)” or “Lost One,” Dame and Biggs are left to interviews. In all three cases, the three New Yorkers are guarded about what they say, and what they won’t—leaving one of Hip-Hop’s most beloved booming labels a bit of a mystery.
Reportedly created in the image of series like FX’s The People Vs. O.J. Simpson and HBO’s Vinyl, Dame Dash has signed on to produce a visual narrative of the 1990s creation of the indie. The Harlem, New York native who began his industry run managing Original Flavor and Jay Z believes his famed imprint transcended race. “The reason why Roc-A-Fella [Records] crossed and became so essential to pop culture is that we were probably the most authentic people that were also so sophisticated,” Dash said in an interview with Deadline. “My experience doing white people shit is just as heavy as my experiences doing Black people shit. Actually, I think I’ve done white people shit better than white people.”
Dame Dash also told Deadline that like Straight Outta Compton, his “brutally honest” dramatization should be backed by the actual music created around the story. “I know what I own, and there’s a lot of different artists that would probably not have a problem with participating…Hopefully, [Jay Z] doesn’t either, but as of yet we haven’t crossed that barrier. I’m not worried about that.”
Roc would release multiple #1 and multi-platinum albums between 1996 and the 2005 sale-and-split. Further, the label branched into a film division, vodka, and the Rocawear clothing line—as well as extensive brand partnerships.
While no network has been revealed to host the series, Dame has partnered with Preachers Of L.A. executive producer Lemuel Plummer. “It’s not about the music that you hear,” Plummer explained to Deadline. “It’s about the actual story that’s never been told.” The series will look at all three of its founders and others closely associated with the rise and success of the label. “Roc-A-Fella as a movement wasn’t revolving around one person, but that’s the way it was made to look,” Dash said.
Roc-A-Fella eventually grew to include Cam’ron, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, M.O.P., N.O.R.E., and Victoria Beckham—though not all would release albums. The label’s logo and name (now owned by Island Def Jam Records, where Jay Z was head of following the sale) still appears on recent releases by Jay, Kanye, and Jadakiss.
Since Roc’s sale, Dash has worked with Curren$y, Ski Beatz, Beanie, and Murs, among others. He presently runs BluRoc/DD172 and the Poppington brand, and recently appeared on BET’s series Music Moguls.
Source: Jay Z