When Damon Dash pulled a Roc-A-Fella chain out of his vault several months ago and presented it to Curren$y, it was just a celebration of their friendship. Now, the chain means much more. Dash is resurrecting Roc-A-Fella Records and plans to make Curren$y’s Pilot Talk the label’s first new release on June 15.
“I think we just having fun, really,” said Dash, sitting in his office at DD172 next to Curren$y. “[Curren$y] inspired me to dust off the chains. We brought ’em out for kicks, just ’cause we could. Then we was like, ‘F— it, let’s put it out through Roc-A-Fella.’ It was really more something he wanted to do. Basically, ’cause we havin’ such a good time, and the opportunity’s there, we was like, ‘Why not?’ “
“What that means, what that shows me, is that dude thinks as highly of me as I do him,” Curren$y said about releasing an LP on the label Dash co-founded with Jay-Z and Kareem “Biggs” Burke in the mid-1990s. “I know what’s behind that. We all know and the fans know what that represented at the height of it. The aesthetic of it.”
Dash said he hadn’t been having “fun” in music since he, Jay and Biggs dissolved their partnership several years ago. But meeting and working with artists such as Curren$y and Jay Electronica who come through his DD172 facility brought the old feelings back.
“The funny thing is, people don’t know that Roc-A-Fella wasn’t meant to sell records,” Dame said. “It was meant to show the respect and the honor amongst each other as friends. It was a friendship thing. That’s what people liked. It’s what made Roc-A-Fella appealing. It’s odd, because I f— with [Curren$y]. I kinda like him. When I met him, I wasn’t as familiar with his music. My nephews and Sean O’Connell put me up on him. I liked him as a friend. Then I start seeing he’s super nice with the rhymes, then I started seeing his influence. It’s similar to the way we felt back in those days. It’s working out.”
The last album to come out on Roc-A-Fella was Jadakiss’ The Last Kiss in April 2009. The label had been under Jay-Z’s sole custody since the breakup of Hov, Biggs and Dash.
“Def Jam or Universal bought the brand. I think the ‘beef’ [with us and Jay-Z] was that Jay made it clear he didn’t want me or Biggs to be a part of it. That’s really where it was at. Now that he doesn’t work for Def Jam anymore, he doesn’t have the right to use the name. So there’s no reason for us not to use it. It’s there, and it’s a brand that’s not being used. So I was like, ‘I’ll take it.’ It always meant something to me.”
Dash said he and Curren$y are pushing a positive message about friendship and evolution.
“It’s a way more positive movement,” he added about the label’s new incarnation. “It’s what I wanted Roc-A-Fella, what I thought it should be 10 years after I started it.”
Dash said he secured the new deal through L.A. Reid and Def Jam, which will serve as a distributor for his records.
After Curren$y’s album, the next project coming off Roc-A-Fella will be Ski Beatz’s 24 Hour Karate School mixtape.
Reps for Jay-Z were not reached for comment by press time.