Words by Kid Potential
Everywhere you look — in magazines, on blogs, in some of these offices — everyone is talking about change in the industry. In the short history that is Hip-Hop, no company has exemplified that change like Def Jam. They have produced countless artists and been the fuel behind the some of the most iconic brands in music. Today it seems the label that once conformed to no one’s rules, must restore its formerly flippant demeanor with one of its most disgruntled ex-employees: Damon Dash.
Mr. “You don’t know shit about my culture,” has been through a lot. He’s seen the ultimate success professionally, lost it, dealt with the loss publicly, and all while facing personal struggles seen by the world. He has fought, and he has survived. It is, however, safe to say that Dame Dash, has made some enemies. But that’s not always a bad thing. There always has to be a Bad Guy; Entourage has Ari Gold, The Devil Wears Prada has Miranda Preistly, and Diddy made some kids walk to Brooklyn. The best bosses have to have that mean streak and that ability to invoke fear with just their presence. Some may look at that as senseless, tough-guy bravado, unneeded in today’s corporate structure, but that’s exactly what a label like Def Jam needs right now. Someone to come in and shake sh#t up, keeping everyone on their toes.
It takes a hardass to run the house that Rick and Russell built. It takes genuine business savvy and a creative outlook. Not too many people in this new age of business exemplify that more than Dash. Dame has managed to keep us interested in his Warhol-inspired DD172 space, established an alternative media clique in Creative Control, put out a compilation rock/rap album before it becomes the popular thing to do and developed one of the game’s more promising emcees, Curren$y.
Regardless of what we think of him, this may be the only asshole with the confidence it takes to bring Hip-Hop’s historic label back to its previous dominance. I’m sure the kings of New York music, Russell and Rick, would much rather see their label run by a Harlem hustler than a guy named L.A.