The Dude With the Most Cake

Russell Simmons pioneered it,

P. Diddy followed suit, and so did Jay-Z — but Jay’s business partner Damon Dash has


shown the world how to parlay hip-hop cred into entrepreneurial megasuccess. At 34, Dash has built a business empire with the music powerhouse Roc-A-Fella Records, and his kingdom now includes the Damon Dash Music Group, Rocawear (the No. 1 urban fashion company), Armadale Vodka, PRO-Keds sneakers, Tiret watches,


magazine, a nonprofit community outreach program called Team Roc, and his own show on BET (

Ultimate Hustler

). Oh, and he also produces and directs films.

But after hearing a recording last November of Ol’ Dirty Bastard “singing” a duet with Macy Gray on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” — a preview from A Son Unique, ODB’s still-unreleased posthumous album (which Dash oversaw and will release) — we had one question for Dash: What is up with the new ODB? So we stole a few minutes, literally, from Dash as he was on a basketball court in New York filming an upcoming ABC 20/20 special.

DAMON DASH: Come on, let’s go, I’m down!

L.A. WEEKLY: Can you talk about ODB’s A Son Unique?

It’s critically acclaimed already. I’m gonna pay homage to his life; I think he should get the props he deserves.

Who’s featured on the album?

Everybody! Pharrell, Missy Elliott, Macy Gray, Joe Budden, Noreaga, M.O.P., and the whole Wu-Tang is on it — RZA did like seven or eight cuts — Ghostface, Raekwon, Method Man.

Whose idea was it to sign ODB [in 2003], and what was the idea behind the move?

Mine. I liked Ol’ Dirty Bastard a lot.

Were you ever worried about ODB being in and out of prison and being able to record and promote him?

Nope — who am I to judge that, you know?

What about the perception of him being crazy?

ODB was 100 percent genius. I taped his whole experience, from the minute I picked him up from the jail to, unfortunately, the day he died. He was very into his project, and also into the marketing of his project — even the budgets. He did everything I asked him to do. I had no problems with him at all.

Can you talk about the hilarious Macy Gray/ODB remake of Elton John and Kiki Dee’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”? Whose idea was that?

One of my assistants came up with the idea. I called Macy Gray; she’s a friend of mine. ODB laid his vocals and then she came and did hers.

Macy is also on the “Intoxicated” cut.

Yeah, RZA put that together. I didn’t know about that cut until it was done.

Can you talk about Damon Dash Music Group and how your new company is different from Roc-A-Fella Records?

Damon Dash Music Group gives individual artists their own labels. I’m helping people like Beanie Sigel and Cam’Ron do label deals, ’cause I don’t have time to do the hand-to-hand, day-to-day thing that I used to do, and I only want to be around bosses and independent individuals. It gives me more independence, so I can branch out and do things with other camps, whereas before I could only do things that were Roc-A-Fella related.

On top of working in the music industry, you’re now directing and producing films and, with Dash-Dibella Promotions, promoting boxing.

I don’t have a choice; I got to do everything. I’m a cakeaholic.


Yeah, I’m addicted to gettin’ money.

What’s the ultimate goal for Damon Dash?

[Seriously] Take over the world. World domination!

So when is the ODB album droppin’?

It will come out before the year is out. I’m not getting the proper response from radio. It won’t be released until it gets acknowledged the way it should. Pop radio, they kill me, what they like and don’t like. If they had good ears, they’d have great record labels.

I understand some of the proceeds of the album are going back to ODB’s family.

Absolutely — as if they had their own label.

What is the thing you most miss about ODB?

His presence. His genius. The way he was just honest about life.


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