Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Life Is The Dash (Part 1)

Okay everyone knows Damon Dash has a big head. He's arrogant, demanding and flashy, but he's also relentless. This past April I interviewed Dame for this mag and realized this cat has got game and heart. I wasn't a big fan before, but after spending a couple hours with him I really grew to like him and his wacky sense of humor. Just recently I was asked to interview him again as a follow-up and that it would probably be his last interview before he goes underground to regroup and get his new hustle together. Because UNleashed is not that widely known (and because I just can’t seem to get enough of The Ultimate Hustler) I thought I'd post the interview. Tell me what you think. Do you like Dame? Do you feel like he is nothing without Jay? And will he be able to come back after selling (losing) Rocawear & Rocafella? Check it out:
The Armadale vodka is flowing like water from a New York City hydrant in July. Damn near everybody is freshly dressed in Rocawear gear. A Jay-Z cut can be heard playing in the background and P. Diddy is doing a weak flailing version of the Harlem Shake.

You can cut the tension with a hacksaw. Everyone is sitting on the edge of their seats as the credits begin to roll on this late night screening of Damon Dash’s quasi-stellar mockumentary, The Death of a Dynasty.

Unreal, but not totally unfounded, the film pokes fun at the HipHop industry and reworks the gossip associated with one of HipHop’s biggest break-up’s since J. Lo and Diddy split. At the end of the flick, which Dash directed and produced, there is a shot of a note Dash has written to a less than authentic journalist that reads, “Niggaz can do whatever they want. You can’t knock the hustle.” Making a multi-million dollar, multi-media empire in a relatively short amount of time and even making a movie that portrays P. Diddy as a dancer with two left feet, is a surefire testament to Dash’s convictions.

I am America. I am the part you won't recognize, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky -- my name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me. - MUHAMMAD ALI

It’s Friday afternoon, April Fool’s Day, yet it’s business as usual in the Rocawear offices. Everyone is moving fast, but with the precision of a drill team. Inside the executive suite there is a simple tranquility that belies the grandeur, adrenaline and straight-up madness associated with the CEO whose initials DD are embossed in steel on the crest of the massive desk that overlooks Times Square and damn near all of New York City. Damon Dash’s mid-town office is grand with all the trimmings. Framed pictures that line his desk act as a montage of Damon’s frenetically eclectic lifestyle. There’s a shot of him with Robert DeNiro in Anguilla another with Cam’ron in Harlem and another with Kevin Bacon in Cannes. There’s also a playful photograph with Dame biting the cheek of his wife, fashion designer Rachel Roy, a former intern at Rocawear who now heads her own clothing line.

This montage is, in a sense, how Damon has framed his life and how he defines America. It’s not a Black or White thing. It’s a green thing— making money, spending money, making more money. If it means promoting a film in Cannes, then jetting off to the French Caribbean to unwind and then appearing in a photo shoot back in his old uptown hood then so be it. As long as it is a means to making ends, then the self-acclaimed cakeaholic-- someone who is addicted to getting money, is ready to make it happen.

At the office, the chief executive greets everyone with a smile and a quick hello while he deals with a buzzing Blackberry, a ringing office phone and the ruckus of folks in his waiting room. Just as he sits back to catch his breath, his cell phone rings. “If you don’t know who you’re calling then I don’t think I have time to speak with you,” he dryly responds with a sly smirk that makes you think he just may know who’s on the other end, but just like that he hangs up and is on another call. April Fool’s Day or not, clearly the 34-year old hip-hop powerhouse has no time for the prankster on his cell phone.

With no less than five music albums, three films, two new clothing labels and one cigar company in the works, all scheduled to launch before September, Dash’s every move is a serios one and his life is consumed by his drive for dinero. “There are a lot of people who go to college that just don’t do shit with their lives. I’m aggressive about living life,” says Dash. “That’s what hustling is all about.” A Taurus who admits to probably having ADD, Dash finally gets a chance to sit down and in this rare moment of peace he pulls out a box, pricks his finger and checks his blood glucose. Even with a short attention span and limited time, Dash, a diabetic, knows exactly when and how to focus when it matters most.
To Be Con't...


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