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Kanye’s whole thing is I don’t give a fuck. Art is something that you really fight for if you love it, even if your message is misunderstood. Like White Lives Matter. He’s an artist that likes war. One of the founders of Rockefeller. Rockaway. He discovered Jay-Z, Kanye West, and so many others. One of the biggest pioneers in hip-hop. I took Jay-Z and shopped him to every single label and they all said no. I had to do it myself. I really want to understand why Rockefeller won. I did partnerships with my artists. I’m gonna give you all the rights to my record, my art, and then you’re gonna give me 10% of my art. That just didn’t make sense to me. That whole stint of your career, the Rockefeller chapter, do you have any regrets surrounding that? I wouldn’t have been so generous with Jay. It was more friendship for me and money for him. But he did things that I thought he would never do. What are those? I’m just saying this. Let me just say this. What was the hardest moment in your life? When Aaliyah died, that breaks my heart. Singer-actress Aaliyah is killed in a plane crash. I tried to play out what that would feel like for me. You don’t want to build it. It’s a pain that you couldn’t understand.
Steven Barlett (01:22):
Without further ado, I’m Stephen Bartlett and this is the diary of a CEO. I hope nobody’s listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. I always believe that in order to understand a man, you have to understand their earliest context because as childhood psychology often asserts, that’s really when our character and our shape is formed. So can you take me back to your earliest context, the context that’s most relevant to who you went on to become in your life back in Harlem on 109th and 1st Street?
Dame Dash (02:04):
My first real memory of who I am is I remember being like four and I was in nursery school and a teacher yelled at me. Well, I got in trouble and I felt embarrassed. I felt uncomfortable. And I remember saying to myself as a four-year-old, I’m never going to feel embarrassed again.
Ever. I didn’t like the way it felt, you know, like when Fred Flintstone used to get yelled at and he starts shrinking. And I just was like, I’m never going to put myself in a position to let any adult teacher, whatever, I’m never going to be embarrassed. I just hated that. I remember not liking that feeling. And I think that was the last time I felt it. Pause.
Steven Barlett (02:49):
And how did that, so that presumably impacts your relationship with authority figures?
Dame Dash (02:53):
It just means I don’t care what anybody thinks. So no matter what, regardless to what, you’re not going to make me feel as less of who I am. I know who I am. So there was no way that teacher was going to make me feel small just because they were a teacher and I was a student. There was no way that they were going to make me feel less of myself. I was never going to let another person make me feel bad about myself ever again. The last time that happened, I was four years old. But what I saw was as I got older, that this is the way people live their life, fear what people think of them. And that’s the reason why they don’t say what they feel. That’s the reason why they internalize. And that’s the reason why they end up depressed.
So as long as you’re expressing yourself, as long as you don’t care, as long as you’re not hurting anybody, there’s no pain to feel. It’s almost like at that point I sprayed this thing called I don’t give a fuck what anybody’s thinking spray. And I think that’s been the most important thing is not to care about the judgment of other people.
Steven Barlett (03:48):
What about your parents? Could they tell you what to do?
Dame Dash (03:52):
Well, of course, as a child, but my mom died when I was 16, so I was still a child. So at that point I was making money. You know, the last time anyone could tell me what to do would be the last time someone was paying my bills. So if you’re paying my bills, then you could tell me what to do. And I’ve never put myself in a situation like that as an adult for someone to be able to tell me what to do. They could give me advice. My parents could give me advice, but, you know, at 16 or 17, after my mom died, I was getting more money than my dad, you know? So at that point, it’s hard to listen to people that are older than you that haven’t got to the place you want to go. And as a child, you become very arrogant when you can do adult things.
But my mother was the one that taught me to never, ever, ever let someone tell you something that you don’t believe without saying how you feel about it. And, you know, almost where it made it to where we might have had almost a somewhat disrespectful relationship because I would talk back. But, you know, in school, I would talk back. If I didn’t agree with you, I was letting you know. And I’d be like, my mother taught me that. You know what I mean? So I was basically taught to talk back.
Steven Barlett (05:08):
You’re a father now. When you look back…
Dame Dash (05:10):
I’ve been a father. Yeah. I should be a grandfather. I just, you know, I just, my last, my newest child, you know, I had him when I’m 50. I’m 51. Five kids. Yeah. Last time I counted.
Steven Barlett (05:27):
When you look back on your own relationship with your parents and how, now that you’re, you know, you’re a father, you’ve got kids of your own, how in hindsight did that shape you, the relationship, the dynamic between your parents, but also their relationship with you? Is there anything you look back and say, well, because of that, I became this? Everything.
Dame Dash (05:43):
I have a tattoo on my arm that says, thank you for making me the man I am. So, yeah, I got my sense of humor from my father. And I got my hustle from my mother, period. And yeah, you become a combination of the people that influence you the most. That’s why you have to be important. I mean, it’s important that you’re cognizant of what you do when you realize that people are actually influenced by you. You know what I mean? You never want to do something that you don’t want the people you love to do, because they’re going to do exactly what you do. So I got a little bit of that. You know, my mom, she was my mother, and I got a little bit of that, you know, and I got a little bit of that, you know, my mom, she was like, you know, an entrepreneur. She always makes sure I had everything. She sold things, you know what I mean? Not drugs, but like, you know, like clothes.
You know what I mean? But like a flea markets and stuff, and she was real innovative about it. She did this thing once we went to a flea market and she took a Hulu and put a curtain on it and we would stand up and it made into a dressing room. And that day she sold all of her jeans. She made $800 that day, I remember, at Aqueduct.
So, you know, I’ve always had that hustle and bustle for my moms and, and, and, and doing things different at an early age made me know that that’s the only way you could do it right. Like standing in, like if you don’t stand out, then you’re just atmosphere in a crowd. But when you do things different than people are drawn to you.
Steven Barlett (07:06):
One of the things I’ve thought about since growing up is how a lot of the things that I value most as characteristics of myself probably came from what the world would consider to be mistakes that my parents made. So one of them being like not being around me makes you independent. Or, you know, maybe being a workaholic maybe makes the kid a workaholic or maybe not having money gives you drive. When you think about the things that wouldn’t be in that like parenting handbook of how to raise a child that ultimately served you and made you, you know, the man you are today. Is there anything there where you go, a mistake made me brilliant?
Dame Dash (07:42):
Yeah, every mistake that I had to fix made me bring it makes you a boss because that’s a boss’s job is to like untie knots. You know, your job as a parent is to make sure your children never have to go through the same problems that you went through is to break cycles. But first you kind of have to understand what that cycle is. So as an adult that had children, I was, you know, I ain’t going to like shit on my dad, but if I were him, I would have been in my life a little more.
And you can look at it like, you know, there’s this thing like, you know, if your father’s an alcoholic, you could either become an alcoholic because of it or just never touch drinks. It depends on how things affect you. So, you know, the way he parented and the way I knew, and I was conscious about the way it made me feel, I knew what not to do to my children or what not to, you know, be absent or when I should be consistent. You know, the cycle that I’ve wanted to break was that cycle where, you know, your mother tells you not to like your father and your father’s telling you certain things about your mother. And those are the people that you love the most. And only thing you want as a child is for your parents to get together. That’s all you want. So, you know, it took me to have five kids to have a good relationship, a good, you know, one that’s not so traumatizing for the child, a functional relationship. It took me five to be 50 to get there.
But each one of those children, the other four children, I knew that I was like, damn, you know, even though I’ve been able to make it where they’ve never had to sell drugs and they’ve had the best educations and lived that one percent of life, but I wasn’t able to break that cycle. The thing that hurt me the most was the separation of my parents and the beef. I wasn’t able to break that cycle.
So, you know, I wasn’t going to stop till I did is almost like with every child, I became a better parent. But knowing that the breakup of my mother and father affected my mother for the rest of her life, which affected me, you know what I’m saying? And I didn’t want to ever do that to my children. And then also being a visiting dad is whack.
You want to wake up with your child. You want to watch your child grow and evolve. You know, buying and providing physical things, a kid doesn’t even care about that. That’s not currency to a kid. They don’t even know about money until you tell them about it. All they care about is your time. And that’s the most valuable thing is, you know, the love that you can give your child. So, you know, at some point you might think, OK, I’ll sacrifice time with my child because I got to make money to support him. But the kid don’t care about that. Don’t care about that, you know, the kid just wants you to be there to support him.
Steven Barlett (10:37):
Did you learn about emotions and affection and how to express yourself from your parents? Was that something that you were able to do as a young man well?
Dame Dash (10:47):
Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t put a title on it like, oh, this is affection. But I’ve always been able to express myself in any way, you know, whether I’m crying or whether I’m cuddling, you know, I don’t have any problems about being and showing what I feel in that moment unless it’s the police.
Steven Barlett (11:06):
You’re 16 years old when your mother passes away? Yeah. How does that change you? From everything I’ve read about that time in your life, she was everything. And I read that you’d said that that was your biggest fear when you were a young man, was losing your mother.
Dame Dash (11:28):
Yeah, it made me a beast. It made me fearless. You know, it’s like a gift and a curse of facing your nightmares early because then you have nothing else to be scared of. So, you know, my mom’s died. Again, I didn’t really care if I died because I’d be like, oh, shit, I’d be with my mom’s. So I didn’t I had no fear of anything at that point. And I knew how I would react. You know, because sometimes you don’t know how you’re going to react in certain situations. So I knew how I could get over it, not get over it, but live with it. And also it makes you appreciate what a real problem is. You know, like, you know, like after my mom’s died, I was like, yo, nobody’s dying.
I don’t even want to hear about it. It could be fixed. I’m not going to ever be unhappy unless it has something to do with health, death or freedom. You know what I’m saying? But other than that, nothing is going to ever make me worry. Like, I’m not going to be like a lot of people overreact to problems because they never had any. They don’t know what a problem is. And they make something that’s like feel like it’s the worst thing in the world. And I’m not going to ever do that because I appreciate when things are good. You know what I’m saying? It’d be like just in any second some shit could happen that’s fucked up. So in between those moments that you can’t control, you have to enjoy life to the fullest.
100 percent. But sometimes you have to actually go through some pain early so you understand how to appreciate life moving forward. Same thing of me losing my girl, losing Aaliyah, you know, it wasn’t a pain I thought that I would ever feel of, you know, you don’t anticipate like losing your girl. But once you do, once you get a girl again, you don’t let go and you appreciate love. You know, shit has to be taken from you. Things that are free, you find are priceless when they get taken from you, like freedom and people you love. You know, and then you’re like, what was I complaining about? You know, I was rich. I was wealthy because I had love. And now I don’t. And there’s no money in the world that could bring it back.
You know, once your health is gone, it don’t matter. You will spend any amount of money to get your health back if you’re sitting in the bed compromised. Once your freedom is taken, you’ll spend any amount of money to get out of jail, all of it, because you can’t spend none of it while you in jail other than on a commissary, which is, you know. And then again, lose a friend, lose someone you love. You’ll do, if you could do any, you’d spend anything in the world to get that person back. But then you have to actually lose them to realize how much and how lucky you were to have them. So I try to appreciate life in the moment. I do appreciate life in the moment because I’d be like, what if this was taken from me? Then I’d be sick.
Steven Barlett (14:14):
16 years old, losing your mum in that context in Harlem. How do you grieve that? Nobody teaches you how to grieve. Sell drugs. Sell drugs. That’s how I grieved.
Dame Dash (14:29):
I was like, yo, I’m going to go get money. You know what I’m saying? And you know, at that point, in that moment, I thought, because I was younger, that money meant happiness. So I would do anything for it in that moment. You know what I mean? Like, you know, I was selling drugs. I was risking my freedom and my life and hurting other people. So that’s how I did it. You know, just occupying my time and moving forward. Period.
Steven Barlett (14:57):
Is that grieving or is that a distraction? I don’t know what you call it at that age.
Dame Dash (15:02):
It’s called and getting through it. So yeah, it’s probably a distraction. You know, but again, like, what are you going to do with 16? To me, you know, I didn’t have the money for a therapist or the hindsight to go get one in that moment. So I just sold drugs.
Steven Barlett (15:22):
Is that what you think in hindsight you needed?
Dame Dash (15:24):
I didn’t mean anything. I like where I’m at now. I think every lesson that I’ve learned to get me to this place has been perfect for me. And for the world. The world learns as I learn. That’s the guy that I’ve become. I don’t call them losses, I call them learning experiences. But when you do that publicly and you can always land or you always land back on your feet, the rest of the world learns from that.
Steven Barlett (15:46):
Tim Grover, who trained MJ and Kobe, said to me that, you know, you’re looking to people’s early years and you’ll find trauma and things that have happened and pain. And it will often be responsible for their, as he called it, their light side. The thing that makes them great and famous and resilient and successful and win the gold medals. But then that thing is also responsible for their dark side, which can be the, you know, it can be the insecurities, it can be the things that are less admired. Do you agree with that? And if so, what is your dark side?
Dame Dash (16:20):
Well, you know, I think it’s natural to be worried when things are going good for a second because it’s happened where things are going good and I’ve been devastated. But in that moment, I say, it’s normal for you to think like that. You’ve been through it. I think the only dark side is people triggering me that, you know, when I feel someone’s not doing right by me or by people that I love, I can get triggered pretty, I get triggered. It’s hard to control that side.
Steven Barlett (16:55):
Why? Why can you get easily triggered?
Dame Dash (16:58):
Probably because I’ve, there’s been things that have been bothering me for a while. You know, when you’re in the street, you have to make examples of people. So any kind of weakness means that more people are, it makes you like a magnet for pain. Like people trying to rob you or think you’re soft, whatever. Especially when you run a crew, you know? So you always have to be the strongest. You have to be willing to do anything that you’re sending someone else to do. You know what I’m saying? So in the street, you know, it’s swing now. Think about it later. It’s survival mode and what happens is just because you’re out of survival mode, your muscles and your natural instincts still do survival mode at times. So I’ve had to get therapy to, you know, be like, yo, you’re not in the street. To be able to say that, like, yo, you’re not in the street so you don’t have to deal with things that way anymore.
But if you’ve seen in my career, you know, it’d be a lot of yelling because I would rather put, like, when I’m really yelling, it would be me like in the street. I would put my hands on you. So instead of me yelling, I mean, instead of me putting my hands on you and going to jail, I would just yell or snap. So I had to actually, because it’s a different game in the street than it is in business. And the rules are different. Like, you know, being disrespectful is almost part of like traditional corporate business. The shit that you do every day in corporate business, it could get you put in a trunk in the street.
And if you come from the street and you have to be like, oh, that hurt, like, I would have really, I can’t hurt you. I can’t hit you. I can’t do nothing. I can’t defend myself. I got to go to a lawyer for this. It could become traumatized and you got to internalize a lot. So disrespect triggers me. And, you know, people trying to control the narrative by tricking you into thinking you’re not great when you really are. You know how many people have tried to convince me I’m not a superhero and I know I am? I’m that man.
Steven Barlett (18:49):
Why is that an important belief for you?
Dame Dash (18:52):
Because I’m always fighting for the culture. That’s what a superhero does, you know, or a general. Like, you know, back in the Roman days, no matter how much money you had, you were not famous unless you fought for your country and won a war for your country, for something you loved, you know? And for me, I’m a person that loves a lot, not just country. I love culture. I love a lot. I love art. There’s so much for me to fight for, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, I just can’t look the other way for things that affect me and my culture and things that people I love. It’s hard.
I think a lot of conditioning happens when you see things are wrong and you got to look the other way for survival. And I’ve just never been that guy. And I don’t come from a family or a bloodline of people that have ever been abused, that have ever been bullied. I come from a bloodline of people that bully the bully, that oppress the oppressor. Like, we look for people that think they tough because we really think they are not, just based on the overcompensation, you know what I mean? So it’s not in how you, like, project yourself or act. It’s really about what you do.
Steven Barlett (19:59):
If I’d asked you when you were 16, 17, after your mother passes, what you’re going to be when you’re older?
Dame Dash (20:06):
I just said, great. I’m going to be great. I’m going to be Dame Dash. I didn’t know what I was going to be. At 16, I just knew I was going to be great. How could you be so sure? How could you not be so sure? I’m Dame Dash. You know what I’m saying? Like, my narrative’s never been losing. You know, when you start out winning, and that’s all you know, even when it appears you lose, if you’re a winner, you’re like, I just can’t see myself losing. So no matter what, I’m going to end up winning. I’ll learn from it, it’ll be patient, but I just don’t see losing.
Steven Barlett (20:41):
You realize that not everybody has that mindset, right? It’s too bad for them. I don’t understand why. Do you understand where you got that mindset from? I’m from Harlem.
Dame Dash (20:54):
It’s just a Harlem thing, I think. My family, you know, and just winning. Like, you know, being that kid in school that was like good at all the sports, that could fight, could dance, funny. You know what I mean? I just don’t see myself taking the L.
Steven Barlett (21:13):
That belief, has that built over time? Like, got stronger and reinforced by success over and over again? Like this building of evidence about what you’re capable of and who you are. Has it developed or was it just always solid?
Dame Dash (21:28):
I just never thought I wasn’t going to win. I mean, like, for someone to ask me and say like, that’s crazy that you always think you’re going to win. I really think that’s crazy that you don’t think you’re always going to win. Like, the way I see the opposite, I just don’t understand why I get into a fight that you think you’re going to lose. And life is a fight every day. So why would I get into anything thinking I’m not going to make history? I’m like a little behind schedule for me right now. What do you mean by that? Well, again, in the beginning of my career, everything I did was for money. I was all about the money. And then this thing happened where it just became all about the art.
And being able to sustain doing what I want, being happy and being able to create. Becoming a starving artist. And just being someone that not exploits artists, but actually is the artist. I was doing it the business way. And I was getting where I needed to go as far as touching pop culture. But the people around me were making it where I wasn’t happy about it. It didn’t feel good. And I decided to do it the artist way. So back then, I didn’t know I would be like, fuck it, I just want to be an artist.
I thought if I was just doing things for money, like, imagine what I’d be in the music business right now if I just was exploiting everyone that’s not smart and taking advantage. Like, if I would have took advantage of Jay-Z, which I probably could have. He didn’t know anything about the business. He might try to act like that now, but trust me, you know what I’m saying? So, you know, if I was that person that would do anything, no integrity, no morals or scruples, I’d have billions and billions and billions of dollars. I wouldn’t have taught my artists how to leverage their celebrity for their own products. I’d have just leveraged their celebrity for my own.
You understand? I teach my artists how to be independent of me. You understand what I’m saying? That’s why the artist around me, like, usually it’s the businessman that has more money than the artist, right? The artists are the ones that have more money than the businessman. Obviously, I’m not the businessman. You know what I’m saying? Or else I’d have the bread. I’m the artist. It’s funny how artists become businessmen. They kick the art at certain points, or who’s really an artist, or what a real artist is. But to me, a real artist is someone that won’t do nothing for money, which is me. I won’t do nothing for money. I make money off the things that I love to do, off the art, and I respect the process of art.
You feel me? That’s why you see when I came in, I know the process. But not of one art, of a lot. So I know the fashion art, the music art, the comic, even though I don’t draw. But all of these different things, I learned them from to where I could do it independently and I don’t have to outsource.
Steven Barlett (24:09):
At the cost of the timeline, which you’re saying could have been faster if you’d chosen to exploit people. And that’s a trade-off that a lot of people wouldn’t have taken. They would have taken the business.
Dame Dash (24:20):
That’s why they’re miserable. Now they’re on pills. Now they’re not happy. Now they’re paying for sex. It’s just, I won’t do it. You know what I’m saying?
Steven Barlett (24:30):
For the first part of your career, you were on the other side, right? You were the businessman. You were working with artists like Jay-Z and Kanye and many, many others. And you weren’t in artist mode as you see yourself now with the comic books and the movies and the music and everything else you’re doing. Everything you’re doing. Children’s books. The list was so long that I thought just…
Dame Dash (24:53):
It’s almost, it’s like I said, it’s insanity. It’s ridiculousness, the amount of things that inspire me that I think I could actually do better than everyone else.
Steven Barlett (25:01):
When you look back though on that period from, you know, from being that 16 year old, you go through school. I heard you got kicked out of school a lot. I got kicked out of a lot of school. I got kicked out of one school and then I dropped out of the next. But you got kicked out of a lot of schools. I can understand why from what you said about that four year old kid.
Dame Dash (25:16):
Why would I want somebody that doesn’t have as much money as I want to make trying to tell me what to do and how you think they felt when I would tell them that? Like my car is better than yours. I’m 16. You’re the principal. You know what I’m saying?
Steven Barlett (25:26):
That you park in the principal’s spot one time as well? That’s what got me kicked out of two schools.
Dame Dash (25:31):
It’s so crazy because, you know, there would be kids that did real wild stuff in school that did not get kicked out. But question this entitlement of certain kinds of people. Just because someone gives them authority doesn’t mean I’m acknowledging it.
Steven Barlett (25:51):
That journey that led you from there, from being kicked out of that school to, you know, signing Jay-Z, building that career and all of that success around Jay-Z and Kanye. What was, when you look back at YU, YU versus everyone else, what did you have to spot Jay-Z’s talent, to spot Kanye’s talent, to build them into stars, to create Rockefeller alongside them? What was it about you in hindsight, the characteristics of you as a person that made you capable of doing such an endeavour?
Dame Dash (26:20):
I mean, I just wasn’t taking no. Like if I believe someone’s going to win, I’m 100% sure that they will. And then I fight and make sure that they do.
Steven Barlett (26:29):
Did you have history in music before Jay-Z? I mean, you’d done, you’d been successful-
Dame Dash (26:34):
Before being in the music business? Yeah. I got into, I was in the music business when I was 19. So I went from drug dealing to the music business.
Steven Barlett (26:41):
Do you not need any qualifications to join, to become part of the music business?
Dame Dash (26:46):
No, you could be the dumbest motherfucker in the world. That’s why so many people are there. Really? I mean, in the music business, the traditional music business, they are figureheads. Like if you ask the average president of a label about P&L and quarterly, they won’t know shit about that. They’re just there because a white company or another culture can’t say that they’re running black people with a white face. So you need a figurehead there.
Someone that will listen to what that person’s telling them what to do. And that’s why that industry was no bueno for me. I’m like, first of all, I never got hired in that industry. I came as a partner. But the funny thing is they couldn’t recognize me as a partner because they were not. And I couldn’t recognize them as generals. It’d be like, yo, how are you going to talk to, you’re a soldier. How could you talk to a general like that without thinking your teeth are going to get cracked? You understand what I’m saying? And they didn’t understand it. Like, you don’t understand. I own this shit. You work for somebody. Talk to me like the boss. And it’s crazy how you will talk to the people that don’t own shit like the boss.
They just couldn’t understand what that meant to own my actual equity, to own, have ownership, not sell my rights to something and then let somebody else pay me for my work. That does not logically make sense. And it never did to me. You know what that means? Like you have a grown ass man saying and being proud to say I’m signed. Does that actually sound right? I’m signed to another man. No, it doesn’t. But they’ve actually programmed us to believe it. You’re going to give me an advance. I’m going to give you all the rights to my records, everything that I’ve done, my art. And then you’re going to give me 10% of my art. That’s what the music business is or 8% if you’re lucky. That just didn’t make sense to me.
And I never did, I did partnerships with my artist, with the artists I work with in the businesses that I do now, just because I want people to maintain their manhood. Like I don’t ever say you signed to me. I’m not letting, I don’t like the way that sounds. So, you know, even the verbiage and the whole thing, just your masters, you know what I’m saying? And all of those things are like trigger words, you know, that unconsciously control us.
Steven Barlett (29:07):
Can we smoke in here? It is what it is. I’m trying to, I really want to understand why Roc-A-Fella won. And, you know, it’s because it was real. Because it was real.
Dame Dash (29:34):
It was real and I wasn’t having it. Roc-A-Fella, they weren’t, no one wanted to sign. Think about how, this is the record industry. I took Jay-Z and shopped him to every single label and they all said no. I had to do it myself. Why did they send him? Either he was too old, he rapped too fast. They just didn’t have it. So we were like, we’ll do it ourselves. So that’s the thing. Remember when I said before, people been telling me I’m not a superhero and I know I am, right?
So if someone told you that you couldn’t sell companies and do the things that you did, because to them it’s superhero shit. It’s a dream that they can’t come true for them. You feel me? Like you’ve done things that people want to do. And I guarantee you, if you came with that idea to certain people, they’d say, give you 30 reasons why you can’t do it. The reason why Roc-A-Fella was good, the reason why it did what it had to do, was because I knew how to have a clear dream without anyone obstructing it. I knew how to visualize winning.
So if somebody told me, you can’t do that because of this, get out my dream. Cause that’s not the last thought I’m going to have with my dream because my mind is powerful and whatever I see in my mind, I can make happen. So what I’m living in is my dream. I dreamed about coming to London right now. In the past, this was a visualization. I didn’t know exactly what I’d be doing in London, but I visualized doing a lot of shit, talking to a lot of people.
You understand what I’m saying? So if you can’t visualize winning, then you will not win. And the average person, because we’re programmed not to win, 99% of us are, we don’t think anyone can. So when someone does, it’s amazing, but it’s just a program. As soon as you’re born, you know, I’ve said this before, you don’t know about fear or what to be scared of until someone tells you what to be scared of. And a lot of what people tell you to be scared of is to actually be successful and dream and be independent and be on your own.
You know, what would you like if you were a conniving person that wanted to take over the whole world and you had that kind of power, but you had to program everybody. The first thing I would do was take everybody’s kids as soon as they wake up and program them for eight hours a day on what I want them to do. I want you to go to college. I want you to get a job. I want you to work until you’re 70. I want you to be unhappy. I want you to have debt. I want you to go get a loan and go to college. And then I want you to work that off. And if you don’t, if you don’t go to college, then you make your parents’ dreams into a nightmare.
Most kids only go to college for their parents. You understand what I’m saying? Then you pay for that. So when I look at hieroglyphics, I never see school. I think parents love their children the most. No one’s going to love their kids more than the people that made them. Those should be the people teaching them. Why would you put a kid in a room behind a desk when the sun is out for their whole entire childhood? Not put them in front of water or ocean or anything that inspires them. Dim lights, if you notice, schools, jails, and hospitals all look exactly the same. Why wouldn’t it be in something inspiring?
Why? Because it’s a program to keep us controlled. You have to, when you have to have order of masses, you have to have them all doing the same thing. So you can know what they’re doing. You can monetize what they’re doing. You know how they’re doing it. So at a very early age, I was like, yo, all this shit y’all teaching me, first of all, none of it makes me think I’m number one. It would make me if I believe that y’all are teaching me, especially back then, that I’m number two, that I could never be a boss, that there could never be a black president.
They never teach us how to pass laws and lobby or be politicians. And that’s the only way to make change. So it has to be strategic. So when the cycle continues over and over again without change, it’s either insanity or it’s intentional. Somebody’s losing, which is us, but somebody’s winning, which is them. And they’re controlling the game. So now we have to make our own game, which behooves us.
But the patterns that are implemented, like you said, the DNA of who you are starts when you’re a child. What happens as soon as you’re four or five years old? You get taught what to read, how to read, what to do. And you’re also told that the only way you could break a social class is to be an athlete or be in entertainment. And both are provided for you in school. So you just cash out and don’t go to school, get an education. You go and invest all your dreams in being an athlete, which is like Lotto. And when it doesn’t happen, they build a jail based on those that don’t graduate.
That’s how they build jail cells, which is an independent sector, you know, meaning that, you know, it’s not the government doesn’t own it. And the intention is to keep those beds and those jails filled because you have a government contract. It’s nothing but a hotel that you want to keep. So when you get to that jail, based on the fact that you didn’t get your education, they make sure that you come back. No rehabilitation at all and serve you bad food, no therapy, none of that shit. And it’s obvious if you study people, which people do, that you should do that different so that there would be a different result.
But because there hasn’t been any change made by anyone, the change has to come from us. And that’s the reason why Rockefeller was successful, because I wasn’t with none of that. Not the education, not the programming that we should be signed, none of that shit. Not them telling me Jay was too old, all of that. You understand what I’m saying? So basically everything I’ve been told has not behooved me, but everything I do has. So when I don’t listen, my family eats. When I do, we don’t.
Steven Barlett (35:44):
One of the things they don’t teach us when we’re young is about money, especially if you don’t come from it and you haven’t got a…
Dame Dash (35:50):
And that’s a business, holding money is a business within itself. They don’t teach you how to pay taxes. They don’t teach you about capital gains. They don’t teach you about trust funds. None of that shit. They don’t teach you how to have money because they don’t expect you to get none. Why isn’t there a class on how to have money?
Steven Barlett (36:12):
How to invest it, how to pay your taxes. Yeah, I mean, I destroyed by 18 years old. We have this thing called a credit score out here. I think you have the same sort of thing in the U.S. I don’t have a credit score. I destroyed mine very early. And then I got these two CCJs, which is a county court judgment, which sits on your credit score for six years. When I was 18, because I was shoplifting pizzas, my parents weren’t speaking to me, I was trying to start these businesses. How do you shoplift a pizza? You just walk in, you get your bag dressed as smart as you can. So you’re still black, so they’re still going to look at you walking in the shop, but you’re dressed as smart as you can. Go around the back, put it in the bag, walk out. That’s what I was doing. I just didn’t have any money.
But I destroyed my financial credit before I knew what it was. But it didn’t bother you because you still did what you had to do. I was convinced I was going to make a million millions anyway.
Dame Dash (36:59):
In the street, there is no credit. There’s no contracts. Your word is your contract. Your honor is. And if you come from that, that’s the way I was introduced to life, was the honor, not the contract, not the paper, but the heart and the soul. And that’s another reason why I was like, yo, I can’t be a businessman because it means my honor game is out the window.
Steven Barlett (37:22):
How did you learn those lessons of business? You start Rockefeller, but you haven’t gone to business school selling drugs.
Dame Dash (37:26):
Huh. You got to market. You got to be consistent. You know, you got a colored top. No one else could use that color. You protect it, you brand, your work got to be good. Marketing then. Well, that’s, it wasn’t, see, that’s the thing about hustling. This is another thing. It’s like, because it’s illegal, you can’t do no ads. You just got to put out, you got to give samples out. And once the work, once they addicted, then you raise the prices.
Steven Barlett (37:55):
But the marketing of Rockefeller, that was something. It was just the brand.
Dame Dash (37:59):
We were just active, bro. You know, like innately, I don’t know. I look back at tapes that I have of like, you know, when I was like 19, like I had merch, but I didn’t call it merch back. The things I was doing, I didn’t get taught. I didn’t have a title for them, but it was just logical to do. You know, if you deal with logic, as opposed to waiting for somebody to tell you, I mean, that’s the difference between being a soldier and a general. Soldiers get, they wait literally to be told what to do. Generals give orders.
Steven Barlett (38:33):
There as well, the naivety seems to be playing into your favor, because if you’d gone to business school and learn about how to build a, a record label..
Dame Dash (38:40):
While I was in business school, I’d have been missing building the, bro. I paid for my daughter’s college, right? But I told her, you don’t have to go to college. She wanted to be a model at the time. Those four years would have been the prime years for her. You understand what I’m saying? Now she graduated and it’s like, I would have preferred, cause her education costs a quarter million dollars. I would have way preferred to just give her a quarter million dollars as a salary, or at least invest a quarter million dollars in a business fund.
You know, I tell my son, lucky he’s in college right now. And I’m telling him, I’m like, I just did this with your sister. If I’m paying for college, you’re going to listen to your professor, but you’re going to have to listen to me too. I have to be able to tell you now, this is my first lesson. Tell me what your dreams are. What’s your dream? And it’s the hardest question for him to answer. They don’t teach dreaming in school, which is why we make books. I ain’t going to be mad about it. I’m part of something called the OSG. And there’s also, and it’s 200 principals. And most of these principals are from places where most people are economically challenged. And what we do is we discuss curriculum, the things the Board of Education’s not doing.
We’ll do it. They do that on Thursdays. And on Tuesdays, I teach the principals. An entrepreneurial class, because none of the principals knew how to dream. I’m like, how y’all teaching your teachers to teach the kids how to dream if y’all don’t? So in order to teach these kids how to be fearless, y’all got to be fearless. And they have, and they’ve been there. So I’m not just a person that talks about problems. I’m actively trying to fix them.
Steven Barlett (40:19):
I read that point about dreaming. I’ve heard you talk about visualization and dreaming and the importance of that. The importance that plays. And I’ve also saw you on an interview before you asked, I think it was the host, the guy that said he wanted to be an actor. You asked, you remember? I thought that was brilliant. I watched it last night. And he’s, you know, what’s the right type of dream to set?
Dame Dash (40:39):
The one that you love, what inspires you. But don’t dream cheap because they don’t cost a dollar. You got to dream big. Why would you dream small? Pause. You know what I mean? Like, why wouldn’t you have the perfect best case scenario? And it has to be a selfish dream because you can’t help nobody unless you can help yourself. Period. Unless you’re 100, you can’t help someone else be 100. Have you always had a really crazy dream in your head?
Yeah, I’ve been living it. Rockefeller was a crazy dream in my head, but so was Dee Dee 172. You know what I’m saying? These other art galleries, everything I’m doing right now, being a director. You know, what I do is like as a creative person, I like look at my life like a movie and I like to play different characters. So I got to play the gangster character early. Got that out the way. I got to be a music mogul years ago. A fashion designer, a fashion mogul.
You know, I started oil. I sold oil for fun, you know, just to do it. You know, Web 3, Metaverse, the galleries, you know, with Netvork. You know, that’s where I got my land in Netvork because of the utilities that it could do. It could do a lot of shit. Just playing these different roles.
Steven Barlett (42:01):
Where does focus come into this? Because this is-
Dame Dash (42:04):
None. I’m insane. I don’t have any focus. That’s the problem. If there is a problem, that is it. I drive my staff and my crew crazy. Every day there’s a new idea. I’m inspired and I want to make it happen tangible or it bothers me. And I have the wherewithal to make it happen. I’m a starving artist, but starving is relative for me. You know, I’m always have a staff that can make my dreams come true. So while I’m in London, trust me, the third edition of the magazine is being right as we speak. And right now I can feel it actually being drawn and written, you know.
Steven Barlett (42:43):
What I came to learn probably the hard way about this point of focus is like, I have all these dreams and things I want to do, but they all come at the cost of the things I’m currently doing because there’s 24 hours in a day. Even my team’s time is finite. So if you’re well aware that focus is an issue for you and that, you know, you can’t do everything. How do you, how have you not sort of stops range yourself in a little bit with all these ideas and projects you have going on? Because as I said, I read the list and I was like, Jesus.
Dame Dash (43:12):
I have to like completely detach. So the last three months I just left LA. I’ve been trying to stay away from creative things. I’ve been hiding my cameras from me. You understand what I mean? I’m staying away from people that inspire me. I’m telling you, you know what I mean? I’m in the house looking at a lake. Me and my girl and my baby. For the last couple of years, maybe I’d say nine to 10.
I’ve just been a creative and I’ve been creating and I haven’t been outside. I haven’t been trying to promote or do any of those things, but I have so many tangible physical assets, goods that need to be sold right now that it’s time to be great. So I’ve proven to myself that I can be an artist. Now I need to prove to myself I can make money off being an artist. Why is that my turn? So I can pay the bills so I can make more art. To be able to have every single thing physically that everyone that sold out has is important to me so people could know they could do it on their own.
So if you see that Dame did it, and I’m like a regular guy to me, besides the superhero shit, but if I could do it, most people believe that they can as well. So it’s important to lead by example. You know, a lot of people give these like classes and this, that, and the third. I’d be like, yo, just look at what I’m doing. I’m not talking about like, as I’m talking, I don’t make a living from talking. I make a living from actually talking about the things I’m doing, but the living comes from the things I’m doing.
You understand what I’m saying? Like, I got shit I’m doing. Like, I’m not just, I got a movie to show you right now. Three, I got a magazine to show you right now. I got a comic book to show you right now. I got a children’s book to show you right now. You know what I mean? I got a whole, I got so many different fashion lines. You know, you know, I have an album out right now. Cam’ron, Me Cam’ron, the 8 track, it’s called You Wasn’t There, it was number one on the rap charts last week. I forgot I put that shit up.
Steven Barlett (45:13):
When is enough enough?
Dame Dash (45:15):
Enough what? Fun? It’s never enough fun. I’m not talking, again, it’s not like I got a bunch of bread. You know what I’m saying? If I had crazy bread, then it’d be like, oh, I’m not doing it for the money. I just do it every single day. There’s just new shit to do.
Steven Barlett (45:30):
You said before we started recording, you’re busy in your mind almost to the point of insanity. And when I spoke to Roc, who’s your fiancé, she said you’re crazy, crazy motivated. The most driven, motivated person she’s ever encountered in her life. He just never turns off. He doesn’t sleep. I mean, how sustainable is that? How sustainable has it been?
Dame Dash (45:52):
You tell me. You tell me. I’m 51. 52.
Steven Barlett (45:55):
I’m chilling. Almost to the point of insanity, though. He doesn’t turn off. He doesn’t sleep. I’m just having so much fun.
Dame Dash (46:04):
And it’s not like I’m like, I don’t leave her, though. It’s not like I don’t leave. I don’t leave the house. I’m up working. So it’s like, oh shit, there’s music to make, you know? Oh shit, there’s a movie to make. You know, this is so much to do and I’m having mad fun.
So my dream, like when I’m like, literally, like physically, when I go to sleep and dream at night, my life is better than anything I could be dreaming about. And I get, I’d be like, like, literally I wake up like, whew. I’m glad I have to stay in that. Like, is this, am I still in my house? Like, you know what I mean? Like, I love it. If God, listen, for me not to take advantage of all the opportunity that God has given me based on where I’m from, it would be disrespectful to the opportunities that are presented for me to sleep right now.
It would be disrespectful. It’s too much, like, I am very aware that I live a privileged life compared to most people because I can actually do things based on art all day. So it just would be disrespectful to art.
Steven Barlett (47:11):
You know? If you, if I was coming up, right? So say I hadn’t done anything in my life when I was a young kid, 18 years old, and I’m saying, Dain, I’ve got all these ideas. You know, I’ve got this book, a comic book, the TV, the movie, da-da-da. What advice would you give me in terms of… I’d say focus. Interesting.
Dame Dash (47:29):
But the thing about it is the difference is when I say I have all these ideas, I’m also showing you tangible things. Can you execute? People have ideas all day. Not many people can execute. I can. See, that’s where there’s a gift and a curse because I can finish, because I actually can do it, because I will do it.
Steven Barlett (47:47):
You want to see what I’m saying? That’s a curse, isn’t it? Yeah. But I love it. The reason I’m really obsessing about this topic is I’ve been talking to my team. Some of them… Seems like it must be a similar relatable problem. And that’s exactly why I’m really picking at it because, you know, I… Don’t worry about it.
Dame Dash (48:01):
We’re told that we can’t move in 10 different dimensions at one time, but we really can. But what about 20?
Steven Barlett (48:09):
You could do 50. But then it comes at the cost of one of those… And that’s what I’ve been contending with. Life doesn’t come with a cost. So I’ll give you an example. This podcast here, we could start multiple podcasts with loads of different creators. So do it. But even 5% of my time thinking about that problem is taken from my companies. Let me show you. Let me equate that to you.
Dame Dash (48:29):
So there are people that can cook very well for their family. But a real chef has to cook a thousand plates every fucking night. He does not do that on his own. He has other chefs that he teaches. So that’s part of being a business person. Like look at Walt Disney. Like look at Disney. They do a bunch of shit. To insanity. But it gets done.
So that’s where the business comes. See, I’m lucky enough that I can understand my left and right side of the brain. But I kind of understand if you do two things, both of them working at the same time, doesn’t work out. Because when you’re dealing with money, you can’t be emotional. But when you’re dealing with art, it’s pure emotion. So when I’m shooting movies and people try to make me do business, I’d be mad. Like get the fuck, don’t. It’s not going to come from a businessman’s place. It’s going to come from an emotional place. So, you know, identifying when to turn off, turn on.
Steven Barlett (49:35):
It’s tricky. Have you ever overextended yourself in terms of taken on too much and thought, fuck, I need to… Always.
Dame Dash (49:43):
But you got to remember, like, I don’t have no support. It’s all me. Financially. So all these things that got made, got made from one pocket. You know what I’m saying? An independent pocket. So it ain’t, there’s never no money to look at. Like, I’m always racing a storm. When things happen to me in life, it’s like, what’s the message here, right? So we get, we had this crib in Florida. First two weeks lightning hit the crib, blew out the fucking air conditioners. And you can’t be in Florida without air conditioners in the summer. And then this hurricane comes through. So the hurricane is on its way.
I got to go to the Black Caucus in Washington and have a commission meeting and do a panel for the Congressman, Andre Carson, in the commission. And I’m like, yo, I’m not going to be able to fly out of any Florida. So we go to Hilton Head. We got a crib in Hilton Head and Rocky’s parents are from Hilton Head. So we go to Hilton Head, six hours away, the storm comes to Hilton Head. I got to go to Washington. So while the storm’s coming, it’s getting ready to go in the direction. I got to time it because we can’t fly.
So luckily I’m, you know, because I’m able to move around, I got a sprinter, got a driver. I’m like, yo, I’m going to drive there. It’s only eight hours away, but the hurricane’s coming through. It might catch you. How many hours I got? Three. All right, let’s go. We here. The wind is catching us. We got to get, you know what I mean? But that’s what my life is like. I felt no fear, which was crazy. You know what I’m saying? It was like fun. And what was crazy about it, it wasn’t a paid gig.
Now, if it was a paid gig, I wouldn’t have went. But because I made a commitment, because the commission is important to me. And the Congressman threw a commission dinner in the middle of the black caucus. And, you know, he also had a panel for me to speak on. And before COVID, I was supposed to speak on a panel and I missed my flight because of traffic. So I was like, I can’t do that to him again. You know what I mean? So it was like, damn, you’ll go out in a hurricane for something you believe in and for honor and for money. I’d have been like, fuck the money. You know what I’m saying? I know I wouldn’t. But my point is, my life is like that. It’s like it’s always close.
Steven Barlett (51:59):
You know what I mean? And I don’t mind it. One of the things that your fiancé said to my team when we spoke to her was that you value that and loyalty exceptionally high. It’s everything.
Dame Dash (52:13):
I can just tell you this. Where I’m from, survival is honor. So if you don’t play the game right, you end up dead or in jail, period. And you have to play the game right. Unspoken laws. Just honor. And I just always looked at people that were honorable and how cool it looks to be honorable. How fly it is. Because honor is not convenient. You know, it’s when it’s something that’s challenging and it’s something that you don’t want to do, but you do it anyway because of honor.
Steven Barlett (52:47):
Give me an example of what you mean when you say honor. What is that? In the streets? What is it in business to you now? Being a man of your word.
Dame Dash (52:52):
So if you agree to something, that’s it. Period. See, in the street, if you give your word for the real street dude, that’s it. You got to give it. You know what I mean? Like, you can’t talk to certain people and say you’re going to do something that you’re not. They come looking for you. You said you’re going to do it. You got to do it. When I agree to do something, I don’t even care about the money. It’s your word. You lie to me, your ass is out. You’re a race to me. Because that could get you killed. That could get you put in jail. Those are characteristics of people that, un-honorable means you’re going to tell on somebody to get yourself out of trouble that doesn’t usually deserve it.
Steven Barlett (53:36):
I was watching an interview earlier on with Kanye and he speaks incredibly highly of you, in all ofand every time he’s asked. I was actually more compelled byyou know, you’re heavily credited for sort of discovering Kanye and seeing something in him, again, like Jay-Z, at a time when no one else did. Kanye’s become this brand now. And again, he stretches across multiple industries in an unbelievable way, in culture, in art, in fact, all these things. He’s up on my wall upstairs. I’ve actually got a biga painting from his show where he had that levitating stage. But what did you see in him back then that you know to be responsible for the monolith that he is today? What was it about him? What made him different?
Dame Dash (54:19):
He would listen. Kanye listened. And like, if I said, yo, have cameras with you? He had cameras with you. When he broke his jaw, and I had to send him the equipment. And with that, through the wire, with his jaw broke. If II remember bringing him to London, I’d be like, yo, rap. He’d just jump on the table and rap. You know, and the thing about when you say I discovered Kanye, yeah.
But I gave everyone in Rockefeller the same exact opportunity. I fought like I fought for Kanye and protected Kanye. I did that for every single artist. He just chose to do and take the opportunity and the protection and run with it until he didn’t need anymore. And no one else did.
Steven Barlett (55:10):
What is his brilliance in your assessment?
Dame Dash (55:15):
That he’s so confident in his dreams that they happen. Period. But what John might not realize about Kanye, and I’ll probably leave it that way, is that my personal experience with him, just watching him move around, is that he’s completely committed to what he’s giving you. Every single second until he passes out, he’s working. He doesn’t have a personal life that I’ve seen. Every second’s devoted to art.
And it’s insanity as well. You know, he said it. He’s like, yo, I’m Dame Dash with a whole lot of money. And he is. But, you know, the thing is, he has a whole lot of money because he talks and works for corporate. But look how it triggers him. You know what I mean? So what it means is no matter how much money you make, if there’s still somebody impeding on your art, you’re going to be unhappy. And that’s why my advice is always to do it on your own. Just for the happiness value of it. Fuck the money. If we all said forget the money, we’d make so much more. Probably not in the short time, though, right? But in the meantime, you’re having mad fun.
When you’re working on your dream, money doesn’t matter. If you really, truly love what you’re doing, if you’re doing it for the love of the art, you ain’t really worried about the money in that moment. As long as you can continue to do it.
Steven Barlett (56:48):
There’s a trade-off, though, isn’t there? I’ve experienced that in my life and it’s kind of what you were speaking to there. It’s the business side of you that keeps talking because you still love money. Me? Yeah. I do love money, to be fair. That’s why you’re conflicted. Yeah. And I’ve taken, I think I’ve taken investment in all the companies I’ve… Not these days, but the last 10 years.
Dame Dash (57:03):
And it sounds like it gets you uninspired. But that’s why when you, we spoke offline and you said, I quit my job. I was like, didn’t you just say you sold a company? How could you still call it a job? Yeah. Once it’s a job, it’s not fun no more. I don’t got a job.
Steven Barlett (57:21):
When you look at these people… So in Kenya, you know, I don’t want to talk about him beyond this point, but obviously it’s made him a billionaire. The trade-off you’re speaking to is that, you know, he’s had these frictions with the corporations and stuff like that. But it puts him in a position now where he can, as he is doing, go it alone, be an independent.
Dame Dash (57:38):
All I’m saying is, regardless of what, it ends up in war. So if you get, either way, either you have to walk away from your company or go to war. One of the two.
Steven Barlett (57:52):
Yeah. Most of the time… So who the fuck wants to do that? Yeah. If you look at, I mean, look at Steve Jobs with Apple. He got fired from Apple. Let’s talk about you. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dame Dash (57:60):
Yeah. So it sounds to me like you went public and got uninspired.
Steven Barlett (58:04):
Dame Dash (58:05):
Lost control. You gave away your control for money. Yeah. Why would you give your freedom? Think about this, right? So when slavery became in America illegal, everyone that had slaves were still lawmakers that used to have slaves. They still were passing laws.
So can you imagine this conversation? You know, what are we going to do now? We don’t have slaves. Well, we have to make it where there are slaves, but they don’t know it. How do we do that? Well, let’s suppress them and let’s make them fight each other. So every time one kills, we get one killed and then one goes to jail, we get two for one. Plus they all have kids, they have kids. So now they don’t have parents, they’re disenfranchised. So now the kids do the same exact thing because they have nobody to lead them. You understand what I’m saying? It’s just the plan to make us think we’re winning when we’re losing.
But what we really do is we give away our freedom. So what happens is you commit a crime, you hurt your brother, and now legally you’re in chains. You’re put in a cage and you’re working for slave wages. And now instead of slave master or master, it’s warden or CO, or at least that’s what we call them in the States. I don’t know what they call like a, it’s called a correction officer, CO, or warden, whoever runs the jail. It’s a plan. So they always trick us into giving away our freedom by dangling a bag. The bag though, can sometimes be very big. But the bag is, it’s man-made.
Money is man-made. The value of money is made based on what a man says, but real currency is love. And that’s God made. So why would you listen just logically to man telling you that his currency is more powerful than God’s currency, which is love. I’m going with God’s currency every time, just because it’s logical. And that’s another thing logically. I just believe God has to be a woman. Why? Can you create life? But God creates life. Can a woman create life?
So what would be the closest thing to God? The creator of life would be a woman. But of course a man, because they have muscle, would trick the rest of the world into believing that man would be… If war and people fighting is the least smartest thing in the world to do, and men do that all day, it’s the most destructive thing to do. It’s bad for business, but it’s good for someone else’s, whoever’s selling bullets. You understand what I’m saying? And men do this all day. So if, you know, men been running this shit for a while and shit is fucked up, I would love to see what life looks like with women running things. I would love that.
Steven Barlett (01:01:02):
That whole stint of your career, the Rockefeller chapter, do you have any regrets surrounding that when you look back and think, I wish I’d done that differently? I wish someone had told me this thing? That’s Rockefeller.
Dame Dash (01:01:12):
That shit is art. Why would I want to mess with that? Look how it’s impacted the world. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, it’ll be things, certain things that just because I know better, I do different. But who cares, man?
Steven Barlett (01:01:27):
I was like a kid. What are those things? If you were giving me advice.
Dame Dash (01:01:30):
I wouldn’t have been so generous with Jake, to Jake. It was more friendship for me and money for him. And I always felt that, but I ignored it a little. You regret ignoring that? I don’t regret it. I just, I wouldn’t have, the things that I wouldn’t have let certain things happen because I didn’t think they could happen. You know what I’m saying? Like, oh, he would never do that. But he did things that I thought he would never do. So now I would be like, oh, he would do that. And I would make sure it didn’t happen. So Rockefeller would probably still exist right now. I made those mistakes too.
That’s what it is. It actually, the life that I got after Rockefeller was so fucked. It’s been so fulfilling and I’ve had so much fun. You know, I just opened up art galleries all over the world and made music with cool people. And I just, I just been doing cool shit for the last 10 years.
Steven Barlett (01:02:19):
I was compelled by what you said earlier when you said Rockefeller would still exist.
Dame Dash (01:02:24):
Yeah. Okay. Can you tell me what was the end of Rockefeller and why it happened?
Steven Barlett (01:02:29):
From what I understand. And again, this is just what I’ve read. There was a dinner that took place between you and Jay where Jay wanted to sell Rockefeller to Def Jam. No, that’s not what happened. Okay, well there you go.
Dame Dash (01:02:43):
We had, we, we met at dinner because I had heard from LA Reed that Jay was like, I’ll take the job of president, but Damon and Biggs can’t be down with Rockefeller. And LA Reed was like, yo, and I thought John McNealy had said this shit. I was like, Jay could have never said that. And we went and he did me like public place, the whole shit and told me this shit. And I was just like, fucking serious? Jay told you that. He said, yeah, I want to be looked at as a businessman. And as long as you’re around, I can’t be looked at as a businessman.
But I was like, what’s that got to do with Rockefeller? So he was like, yo, y’all could have Rockefeller, but just give me my reasonable doubt masters back. I said, let me think about it. And I went and did a screening of the woodsman. And I was like, yo, come with me to the screening so he could walk the carpet. He’s like, nah, you’re all dressed up. And I was like, this nigga never helps. But my point is regardless of what, Rockefeller still existed. It’s just, I didn’t run it. So why isn’t there still a Rockefeller?
Steven Barlett (01:03:42):
Rockefeller was sold, right?
Dame Dash (01:03:43):
No, it was sold, but they gave Jay to run Rockefeller. So Kanye was still there. Everybody was still there. Why is there no more Rockefeller?
Steven Barlett (01:03:56):
You tell me.
Dame Dash (01:03:58):
Well, usually when a rapper runs other rappers, it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t work no more. It just means there was no Rockefeller unless I run it. That’s it. So I would have continued to run it. I wouldn’t have put that, you know, I would have dealt with it different. And how, when you’re going forward inBut I didn’t want to run Rockefeller no more. I was done with that. I was, at that time, I was already at Rockware. My office was not, I wasn’t fucking with music no more. And Rockware was making a lot of money, right? Yeah, but it was just more, I was just inspired. I was just sick of being in that building and dealing with dumb shit. I was done with the music business. I wanted to do fashion.
I was done with it. So I looked at it as an out. Like, out of obligation, I would have still ran Rockefeller because I gave my commitment. But because they was acting silly, I was like, yo, take it. I want to go anyway. You know what I’m saying?
Steven Barlett (01:04:51):
How do you feel towards Jay-Z now? But, you know. I don’t feel nothing. No bad feelings? No good feelings? No feelings.
Dame Dash (01:05:03):
If I deal with feelings, then they would probably not be so complementary.
Steven Barlett (01:05:08):
He’s obviously achieved tremendous success in all he’s done in multi industries and all that kind of thing. What is it about him that you think has put him in that position? His characteristics? I don’t want to talk about Jay-Z. You don’t want to talk about him?
Dame Dash (01:05:21):
Not really. Like, you know, I know what Rockefeller was and how he did business. So it’s hard to—I don’t even try to figure that shit out.
Steven Barlett (01:05:30):
Period. You have a really unique perspective in the sense that you, you know, yourself, Kanye, Jay, you got to see the characteristics that made them go on their journeys. And that’s really what I was trying to get at. It’s like, what are those
Dame Dash (01:05:42):
The difference between Jay and Kanye, and I say it, Jay is about the money, period. And Kanye is about the art and the money, but it’s the art. You know what I mean? Like, like, like, like, like, Kanye is a real artist. That Kanye is in different dimensions. Like, you know, he’s, he really focuses on that fashion. I never saw Jay do that, ever. Not nothing near that. And he really focuses on his creative, like he produces his own beats. And then he’s about, like, sonically, he’s really into how things are, like, like, I don’t even understand what the fuck he’s doing when he makes beats. You know what I mean? Like, I know what a beat sound, but then he does some other shit that makes it like where other people respect it. You know, he has, it’s an art to what he does. And Kanye obviously has opinions. You know, he’s not trying to fit in.
So, Kanye’s whole thing is, I don’t give a fuck. You know, he’s an artist that likes war. But most artists, I don’t know. I think if you were, it’s like art is something that you will really fight for if you love it. Even if your message is misunderstood. Like, white lives matter. Yeah, I don’t understand it. You don’t understand his message there? Kanye, holla at me, bro. Explain that one to me.
Steven Barlett (01:07:06):
I didn’t understand that one either. I did try and read after I saw his post, but I still couldn’t quite grasp.
Dame Dash (01:07:12):
Grasp what he was… Actually, don’t holla at me. I don’t want to talk about that. The only reason why I would want to talk to him is so I could know, so I could protect him. That’s the only reason why. But other than that, it’s like, yeah, that one there. I love Kanye.
Steven Barlett (01:07:28):
Seems to have bothered you. Seems to have bothered you, that one. No.
Dame Dash (01:07:34):
Nothing he does bothers me. I’ve learned, I know about Kanye. You know, I know that his thing is to trigger. So, he’s a trigger. So, I’m not going to be triggered. You know what I’m saying? Like, he likes that shit. That ain’t me. I mean, you know, it’s fun to watch, but certain things I’d be like… Like I said, we have a relationship where if I don’t agree with him, we have conversations. You feel me? And that might be why sometimes we don’t speak for a while. But you know what I’m saying? Everyone that I love, I’m not going to just say things that are all right if they’re not. I’m going to tell you my perspective on it. And sometimes people don’t want to hear that shit.
I don’t know what’s going on, so I can’t judge it. But I wouldn’t have did that shit. You know what I’m saying? I didn’t like it. I’m telling you right now, but I’m not going to disown him. But I didn’t like it. He’s like that person in Thanksgiving, that uncle that you are. Like, I have… Think about it. Like, you know, Stacey, I’d have Stacey Dash at my fucking Thanksgiving table. Imagine what that would be like. Shit, the elephant in the room gets addressed. You understand what I’m saying? But that’d be the reason why a lot of times it doesn’t happen so often. Because I’m always addressed to you. Not because I’m, you know, I just honestly would like to know. Curiosity.
Steven Barlett (01:08:54):
What did you learn from how Rockefeller came to end about business life people?
Dame Dash (01:08:60):
I didn’t look at the music. I didn’t look at that as business. That’s why I was like, it’s not real business. So you got to think about it. At that time, I’m a real businessman. That means I want to be strategic. I want to make plans. If nobody wants to do that shit and I’m doing it on my own, it becomes very frustrating. So I had to fight for Rock-Aware. You know what I’m saying? I had to do it on my own. Had to fight for Rockefeller. I had to do it on my own. It was just too much fighting. And then fighting with the people that I’m fighting for, it just was, you know, it was just like, I’m not fighting for a bunch of dudes. Like, it’s just, you can’t get, there’s nothing to get from it, to gain. So just like, yo, it’s a bunch of ungrateful dudes.
And I can’t have my daughters around these dudes, you know? Do you have trust issues in business? Hell yeah. There’s no trust issues. I trust no one. Y’all got, um, I got another drink? Yeah, yeah.
Steven Barlett (01:09:56):
Can we pour another drink? Yes, please. We can just keep talking. It’s okay. Isn’t it? Yeah, it’s cool. We can just keep talking. Yeah. You said you got, you got, you don’t trust anybody. Do you? Yeah. Cool. Um, my girlfriend.
Dame Dash (01:10:16):
You think if you make her really mad, you think she’s gonna, you trust that she’s gonna be fair? Fair? What do you mean? If you do something unfair, will her reaction be fair?
Steven Barlett (01:10:28):
All right, next question. I trust my, I mean, I trust my girl, but I trust Jack.
Dame Dash (01:10:35):
Who? Jack. Well, how much do you trust him? He has your bank account numbers and shit?
Steven Barlett (01:10:41):
I’d give him my bank account numbers. He would? Yeah. My assistant, Sophie, I trust her as well. My brother runs his works full-time for my company, Jason. I trust him. He actually manages all my finances, my bank account, all my investment and portfolio. When I do Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den. We’ll see how that works out. It’s going well so far. We don’t, you know. No, no, no. No, I’m just saying this.
Dame Dash (01:11:00):
Let me just say this. Of course I have people around me and everyone has to deal with those things. But the trust thing is I’m cut from a certain kind of cloth. So what may not be honorable to people because they’re not from the same experience as me. It may be different version than what I see. So I don’t trust that people look at things exactly the way I do. Like some people don’t think things that are disrespectful are because they’re not a boss. You understand what I mean? Like if you’re not a person that’s actually paid people for service, if you’ve never done that, which a lot of people have not that judged me, which I don’t care, then you can never, ever understand what it is to pay someone and then not do their job. You just never know what that is. So you don’t trust people? No. People don’t even trust themselves.
Steven Barlett (01:11:59):
There’s no one in your life that you trust? Your fiance?
Dame Dash (01:12:05):
No, I mean, there’s a level of trust. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I trust her. Yeah, I trust my girl. But people, you know, like family, it’s like, whatever, if they fuck you over, they do. It is what it is. You know, that’s their burden to bear, you know what I mean? Like karmically. But people that I don’t have to trust, I don’t. Like, I trust people like, yeah, but there’s never, you know, it’d be like, you never know what someone’s doing when you’re not looking, bro. People are different. You know, when you’re a person that’s cutting the checks, it’s hard to trust people because they’re just showing you what they have to show you to get the money.
You feel me? You know, I was saying this, I was, you know, being in Florida, you understand real racism. Like, motherfuckers is racist out there. You know what I mean? Like broke motherfuckers too. The crazy shit about like racism is like, being a wealthy or what could appear to be a wealthy black man with a staff.
And you might get someone from another culture and they’ll be like, but you’re still not white. No matter how much money you have, I don’t want to be white. You know what I’m saying? But they still have that chip. Like, but you know, it’s that one thing that it’s like, I’m not trying to be that. You think that’s what it is. I don’t. You feel what I’m saying? But what I understood is I’ve never had to feel racism because I’m always the person that’s hiring and firing people. A racist is never going to act like a racist in front of me.
He’ll get fired or worse. You know what I’m saying? But if you’re a person that’s not in that position, you have to deal with racism. Imagine someone that’s racist, your boss. And that’s a lot of people. So the only way to really combat racism is economic empowerment. You have to either own the bricks. You have to be the boss and then you select the people that you want around you. And if they want to be racist, they better internalize that and go get some therapy because a black man is telling you what to do.
Steven Barlett (01:14:12):
On that point of the people you have around you, how do you pick those people? What are you looking for when you’re hiring somebody or you’re looking for someone to partner with? What characteristics are you looking for?
Dame Dash (01:14:21):
They got to be the best at what they do, that I need to hire them for. And I prefer a certain kind of discipline. What kind of discipline? That every hour of the day that you work and that you love what you do, you know? That you respect my time and my money. But, you know, it’s just really at this point, like, when you’re looking to invest in somebody, you look at potential. But when I’m hiring somebody now, their potential has had to have already realized itself, because I’m paying you. It’s like a professional team. So there’s favors, there’s certain relationships that I have with people that I don’t know there’s certain relationships that I have that are completely personal. And I’ll work with you because we have a personal relationship. I’ll help you. That’s personal.
But when I’m really paying you, you just got to be at this point, you need to be the best at what you do. So let’s look at your work. You know what I mean? I just need to see your work. I need to see what you’ve done before you work with me. How, like, so if I hire a DP, I need to see they’re real.
Steven Barlett (01:15:21):
What do you think about pessimism in people you’re working with? Because I’ve seen from watching your interviews that you seem to have a real problem with people that… I hate negative people.
Dame Dash (01:15:30):
If you’re negative, you got to get away from me. And there are people that come negative, pause, because that’s just what they’ve been raised, but they’re skilled. And it hasn’t worked out because of that. Because it’s just like you just lead with negative first. You know, if the first thing, if I have an idea, the first thing you want to talk about is the problems with it, then we got an issue. There’s a time to talk about problems, but not while I’m dreaming.
Steven Barlett (01:15:56):
And hard work. You know, in our culture, there’s been a bit of a, I guess, a bit of a movement around hard work that, you know, work-life balance and these kind of conversations. What do you think about work-life balance and the importance of hard work and achieving big dreams?
Dame Dash (01:16:10):
Our work is everything. And if you look at the people, you know, there’s this misconception that black people can only have black people work for them. You know what I mean? Like, you know… In the US, more so than here. Probably. Yeah. And that’s what I’m coming from. That’s PTSD, whatever. So, you know, what I find is I’m not trying to only hire my culture because I know my culture. I know my culture. I’m trying to take over the whole world. So I’m going to have Benetton and I have Benetton, like it’s black, white, Chinese. It’s every kind of person in my crew because I want to speak every language.
I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to be good for somebody black. It’s time to be good for being… I’m the best human. I’m going at everybody. I’m going at everybody and there’s also this thing where, you know, it’s always like black people should only have education for black people.
And I think there should be new education for black and white people. There just needs to be new education. It needs for us to figure out how to come together as a human race because it’s been strategic that we’ve, for the last hundred years, we’ve been saying the black thing. Always. It’s always separation, which gives fear, which is what causes racism.
But I just believe if we’re at least the landlords and we can make a curriculum that everyone can fuck with, it’s us making it. It’s just about us being the ones to make the shit. I believe it would be good for everybody. No fear because, you know, we’re not worried about someone else and them taking over what it looks like. We already know what it looks like. You know what I mean? It’d be like, yo, let’s keep everybody happy. As long as this division is open, nothing gets done. And again, that’s another thing that I feel is strategic. So when I make a movie, I’m not like, yo, this movie’s for black people. I’m like this shit for everybody. This ain’t just good for black people. This is my shit better than everybody’s shit.
You feel me? I’m not just trying to educate us. I’m trying to educate everybody because if we’re the only one educated, then we really going to have a big fight. Because once we getting enlightened and people acting stupid, we ain’t going to have it. So we have to evolve everyone. You know what I mean? Everyone needs to catch up. We’re all human. Forget the past so much. Learn from it. But let’s talk about how to move forward in the future collectively.
Steven Barlett (01:18:33):
You mentioned at the start of this conversation that you went and had therapy to understand yourself a little bit and to understand your triggers and what was triggering you and where that came from. What age did that happen?
Dame Dash (01:18:44):
Well, being a child like myself, I was always putting therapy no matter what, but I didn’t talk. But as I got older, like when Aaliyah died, I just always was looking at it like I might need a consultant that didn’t have a dog in the fight to tell me if my actions were right or wrong or to give me advice, sort of like a consolary.
But what I understand about therapy is black people don’t get it. So the study of therapy doesn’t come from our trauma. It comes from other people. So when we finally do get it, it’s in the wrong language. So we have to find therapists that actually speak our language that come from similar traumas and necessarily know how to talk to us. So that’s why I have a program called Healing is Gangster, Taj, he’s also in the commission. There’s a therapist that’s been through everything, if not more. And now he’s actually a guy that’s doctrine and he’s a therapist. You know what I mean? And that’s the person I talk to daily. Like any time that I’m unsure about how to react to certain things, the times I’m the most unsure is with my children.
And that’s when I call him. But then, you know, I had to fight to even be able to see my daughters. So I had to go to court order therapy and I learned a lot there about how to raise my daughters. So the difference between 25 year old Damon and 50 year old Damon, 25 year old Damon would have thought, because I had Boogie, I was a single father. No one ever talks about that.
Went to court and got him, but I used to bring him into my environment and thought that was fathering. But with a child, you have to go to your child’s environment and I needed therapy to actually show me that, how much better it is for me to become a seven year old than for my seven year old, they have to become a 50 year old. You understand what I’m saying? And be in a place that they don’t care about. See the things that you care about as an adult, your kids don’t care about. Just think about what you cared about at certain ages. So you’d be like, oh, you know, none of my kids care about any famous people. They don’t even know them until they get older. They don’t care about anything that I had, because that’s all they know.
It’s not like a big deal. It’s not like a comparison. Like they’re not in another life where they’re, you know, some social class below. And then they’re like, oh, you know what I mean? It’s just what they know. They just want time. And they don’t care about it. No, they just want time and they want you to do what they’re doing and they want you to speak in their language. And that’s what I’ve learned. That’s why I’ve made all of these with my girl for my son. She’s made children’s books and syllabuses from the womb to three years old and all this programming on how to interact with your child. You understand what I’m saying? So I’m a way better parent now, which is most of the time.
Steven Barlett (01:21:13):
What was the hardest moment in your life?
Dame Dash (01:21:17):
When my moms died, when Aliyah died. When people die, that’s the shit that’s the hardest. But everything else is easy.
Steven Barlett (01:21:26):
When I read about, well, I obviously remember the news, the global news when Aliyah died. But when I read about it before you came here, now that I’m in a relationship with someone that I love, I tried to play out, well, I played out in my head what that would feel like for me. Don’t do it. Yeah, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t get there. My brain wouldn’t let me go that way. You don’t want to go there.
Dame Dash (01:21:46):
It’s a pain that you couldn’t understand. But surviving that pain has made me very cool.
Steven Barlett (01:21:60):
What was that period of your life like?
Dame Dash (01:22:03):
Sad, but you know, things were going on. So it was like me, it was me organizing my self to still be strong, because when people see that you’re weak, they attack and people were actually getting cute. It was it was me proving to myself that I’m a real general, that I could work with a broken heart.
Steven Barlett (01:22:26):
Is there a cost to that, always being strong?
Dame Dash (01:22:31):
Nah, I’m not saying that I didn’t feel. I’m just saying I had to learn how I had to lead by example. So in that moment, I was like, the way I react to this is how every single person that looks up to me is going to react when they lose someone they love. You understand what I mean? And, you know, being at, you know, when you’re running or you’re the, you know, not to say when you’re the head and you’re a lot of different people are depending on your strength. It’s a life I’ve chosen. You feel me? So when you choose to be a certain way, or take a certain role, like, I would rather do that than sit around and be sad. You know what I’m saying? Like, I don’t want to sit around and be sad. You know, for me, it’s like life, I have so much fun that when natural tragedies happen, when things happen that are going to happen to people, just, you know, a matter of when, I can’t let that fuck up my fun. It’s just a test.
But, you know, it takes reading and therapy to organize, to be able to move at a professional level, but, you know, your five children, if they’re to be successful and happy that
Steven Barlett (01:23:54):
in their lives, what are the, what lessons are you imparting on them to set them up for success and happiness?
Dame Dash (01:24:02):
You know, the thing is the people that are the hardest to talk to are my children, you know, but I think my daughter Ava, who’s been through every, you know, as a youngster, been through the wars and all that, but like where she is now, I really feel good about my parenting skills because she knows what happiness is. And she’s just so, she just loves the family so much. And I don’t really think that way with my children. You know what I mean? It’s just like, I just want them to be happy. And I just feel like it’s my job to make sure that they’re happy.
But if they don’t find it on their own, and the thing about children, when you have children is after a certain age, they’re not children no more. So you can be like, I got children. I don’t have five kids. I have like three adults, you know what I’m saying? Or at least two, but they’re still my kids. So if they’re not happy, then I want to make sure they are. If their dreams, like my job is to make my kids’ dreams come true, but they have to know what they are.
Steven Barlett (01:25:12):
Do your kids know what their dreams are?
Dame Dash (01:25:15):
No, it’s a conversation I have often with them. And I’d be having like, yo, write it down. They don’t even listen to me. I’d be like, should I get paid to say they don’t listen to for free, you know? But they’re still perfect to me. You know, it’s hard because the good part thing about like baby Dusko, my son, is that Rocky is instilling everything that I’m instilling. There’s no contradictions. Like if I say something, she’s not saying I’m wrong. So there’s no choice that has to be made. We’re both instilling the same thing. So I’m curious to see how that one’s going to work out. All my kids are different. All of them.
Steven Barlett (01:26:01):
You visualise, you visualise for your whole life. I was reading about how when you were building Rockefeller, you would pull up at houses and go and view houses that you knew you couldn’t afford because one day you knew you’d be able to afford them. And this sort of thread of visualisation. I still do that. Really? You’re still pulling up at houses?
Dame Dash (01:26:17):
Yeah, but I could always buy them. I promise you, once I go look at a house and I want it, I’ll figure it out.
Steven Barlett (01:26:23):
My question is like, what are you visualising now? You talked about living in that neighbourhood where people sold out. But what is Dame’s vision?
Dame Dash (01:26:30):
Right now, as far as business or personal? Both. Personal, I’m visualising like 100 acres, having a farm and a studio and just frolicking, you know, but having a private jet, you know what I mean? And maybe it’s in Hawaii. You know, there’s a lot of things there. Business, it’s turning Dame Dash Studios into what I call like a Disney, you know, visualising, buying schools, going into marketplaces where, you know, they might think it’s dilapidated and taking something, a building that’s messed up and turning it into something creative and bringing kids in there and teaching them. You know, there’s a couple of laws I’m visualising passing or getting passed.
I’m visualising what our culture looks like in the Web3 space, getting past the monkeys, you know, and making it more about creativity and not some static, you know what I’m saying, that’s not creative, that could have, you know, racial implications and connotations.
Steven Barlett (01:27:34):
With all these things going on, you still said earlier that you feel like you’re behind schedule in your life’s roadmap. If you were on schedule, what would that look like? All those things would be true? All of those things would have been realised? All of those dreams?
Dame Dash (01:27:47):
Yeah, it’s crazy because I think what I’m most bothered about is the fashion business for me. Because, you know, I did a lot with Rachel and then like, it’s like we flushed that one down the toilet and I really love fashion. So I think the next thing that I want to get back in fashion.
And also my age, like I’m 50 and I’ve always wondered, like, what I would look like fashion wise at 50 because, you know, styles change and I’m not trendy. I’m more like, I’m kind of, but not really, you feel me? And a lot of the people that I’ve moulded or at least that I worked with when they were younger are now doing very well in fashion. So I’m like, I always liked the fashion world. That was always my favourite world. So I got to get back. I think I want to get back into fashion.
Steven Barlett (01:28:38):
We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest asks a question for the next guest. They don’t know who they’re asking it for. So, and I don’t get to see it till I open the book. The question that’s been left for you is, what are you most missing in your life? It actually says, what are you missing most in your life?
Dame Dash (01:28:56):
Right now, I’ll be missing my children because they’re all doing their own thing. And I can’t never get them all at one time. You know what I mean? Like, I got to get like a day, a couple of times a year that all my kids, like, I’m always with three at a time or two. I never have them all in the same house. I’m missing that. I’m missing my daughters a lot because I’ve been on the road. I miss Aaliyah. I’m always curious, like, if Aaliyah and Rocky knew each other, what that would look like. You know what I’m saying? Because I see so much of, like, Rocky has a lot of similarities to Aaliyah that people would not even understand.
You still miss her. Yeah. Yeah. She was the coolest. Like, you know, unless you were able to experience her, it’d be hard for you to understand. She still is. She was magic. But again, the type of magic she is, it was like when I could, I never thought I’d see that magic again, but I saw it in Raquel in a very unsuspecting place, which was odd. But yeah, she was different. And, you know, to me, in history, I think she’ll go down as probably the coolest woman singer, coolest of all time. And when she was alive, she was like, had that aura of coolness of being the coolest.
And she told me I was the coolest. You feel me? So, you know, what does your life look like? Or how do you feel about yourself when Aaliyah tells you that you’re the coolest? And Aaliyah, you understand? Thank you. You understand what I’m saying? What kind of confidence do you have? It’s a big question. What kind of validation do you have when you could really be like, Aaliyah told me I was the coolest person she ever met. A lot of people have told me that, what Aaliyah told me.
Steven Barlett (01:31:02):
I’m so inspired. I’m really inspired by so many things you’ve said, but really the dedication to art and being an artist, I think is something that people don’t speak about enough because everyone’s trying to get the bag and business and build. But the art is obviously where the emotion, the love and the expression is.
Dame Dash (01:31:16):
The bag has always been a distraction. Money is the devil, bro. Makes you forget everything that makes you happy.
Steven Barlett (01:31:27):
There’s no way to get both at the same time.
Dame Dash (01:31:29):
Yeah. Be an artist. I’m doing it. I just told you it comes with a fight, but you’re an artist, right?
Steven Barlett (01:31:38):
I DJ, I write books, I have a musical that tours the country. That’s my art. That’s the piece of me where I go, I ain’t doing this for money. And it doesn’t, if we make money, we give the money to charity.
Dame Dash (01:31:48):
Is that when you’re having your most fun? Yeah, 100%. I mean, this is art for me. Exactly. So why not make money off what makes you the happiest?
Steven Barlett (01:31:55):
Yeah, that’s a good point.
Dame Dash (01:31:58):
Usually because you don’t have confidence in the fact that you could, but that’s what I decided to do. Have complete confidence in my artistry. I just want to make money off me. I’ll help people get money, but first and foremost, I gotta be a part of it.
Steven Barlett (01:32:16):
Dame, thank you. Thank you for your time. Thanks for coming here. You’re someone that I’ve admired from afar for many, many years from an art perspective, a business perspective, and I’ve watched your videos and your mindset, I think is the thing that I think everybody can take the most from because a mindset and your mindset really is like a fishing rod. It’s like a way to maneuver life in order to orientate yourself towards success and good outcomes. Dame, thank you.
Dame Dash is the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella records and the producer who discovered Jay-Z and Kanye West. A legend of hip hop and rap who changed not only the dominant sound within the genre, he totally upended the way it operated as a business. In this conversation, he tells his story. Always knowing that he could never work for anyone else, nor could he sell out his business to ‘corporates’, his has been the life of a true ‘independent’, going from one start up venture to the next with only one thing seemingly connecting his wildly diverse businesses: it was what he wanted to do. In a raw and frank conversation Damon reveals the lessons he’s learnt from his triumphs and successes, his regrets, his proudest achievements, and the philosophy he’s developed and honed from them all.
Early years Losing your mother What is your dark side Where did you get your mindset from? Why did Roc-a-fella win? Whats the right type of dream to set How do you stay focused? How sustainable is your ambition? The importance of honour and loyalty Discovering Kanye Regrets with Roc-a-fella Kanye West I don’t trust anyone Hard work Therapy The hardest moment in your life What lessons are you teaching your 5 children? Visualisation The last guest question
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