Published May 04, 2010Though the name is synonymous with Jay-Z, Def Jam subsidiary Roc-A-Fella Records was actually founded with the help of Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke in 1996. When Jay-Z took over Def Jam in 2005, Dash was forced out and has been working with his DD172 label. Now that Jay-Z is no longer with Def Jam at all, however, Dash has decided to breathe new life into the legendary brand.
"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," Dash explains to MTV News. "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 revealed that he plans to reignite the Roc-A-Fella imprint with a slew of new releases, beginning with Curren$y's Pilot Talk album on June 15.
"The funny thing is, people don't know that Roc-A-Fella wasn't meant to sell records," he explains. "It was meant to show the respect and the honour amongst each other as friends. It was a friendship thing. That's what people liked. It's what made Roc-A-Fella appealing... When I met [Curren$y], 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."
Roc-A-Fella has struck a new distribution deal with Def Jam. After Curren$y's new album, the label will release the 24 Hour Karate School mixtape from Ski Beatz.