Every artist with an inkling of buzz relates their presence to a “movement,” yet the creation of Dame’s hustle, Jay-Z’s talent and Biggs’ backing fit the description almost to the tee. Growing up with the culture, we all remember the point in our lives when Rocafella Records officially disbanded. More than the egos, the music overshadowed any and everything else. So many classic albums (or at least really, really good ones) from a laundry list of acts saw their birth during this time. Coincidentally, this was pre-social media and pre-blog era, so the culture was afforded the luxury of not knowing every rumor which would have undoubtedly resonated from behind its walls during their reign of dominance.
I was a freshman at Hampton University and from what I remember, the news did not just pop up on the Internet one day with the headline “The R.O.C. collapses.” Those who followed the label knew an ill-favored conclusion was brewing. That wasn’t the question. The answer of “when” and “what” were the perplexities. Rather, in hindsight, the slow, gradual downfall was probably even worse. It’s one of those periods in rap I’ll always wonder what the “real” story is. Did Jay simply become too famous to need Dame? Did Dame go behind Hov’s back by bringing Dipset into the fold? Did Kanye really screw Dame over? In my mind, I’ve long since accepted the fact I will never know the definitive answer; maybe because there isn’t one. At least now though, I have some sort of mental picture of what the final days were like from a person who lived and breathed it all.
The Life Files caught up with Young Chris who opened up on the subject. With the economic state the country still finds itself in, there are probably many who can relate – figuratively speaking, of course – to the situation Chris experienced some six years ago. His dream job was a reality. He toured the country with Jay-Z and performed on 106 & Park on his off days. Then came the news Jay gave he and Neef backstage one day about an executive position he would be accepting at Def Jam. Then the Gunnaz sophomore album underperformed. Then, in what probably felt like the blink of an eye, the calls slowed up. The shows slowed up. The buzz disappeared and Chris has been seemingly playing catch up ever since.
Time heals all, but it also makes it harder and harder to decipher the truth. As the days turn to months, the months to years and the years to generations, the collapse of Rocafella Records will fall in the rafters of Hip Hop’s greatest unsolved mysteries alongside the likes of Pac and Biggie’s triggermen and if Master P really had a hit put out on Pimp C. Like I said earlier, however, maybe we’re not supposed to know. Maybe it’s better that way. For better or for worse, unanswered questions live forever.