Damon Dash: Still Taking the Art and Soul out of Hip Hop

Damon Dash 

The Independent profiles Damon Dash.  We learn that while Dash’s stepladder to success former partner Jay-Z has split ways with him, he’s still in business for himself.  Dash has been looking for a new high profile person to leech from source of inspiration to expand his current business ventures:

The theory of “the Dionysian trap for young black men” was posited in March in the New York Times by Orlando Patterson, the Harvard sociologist, to explain the findings in several recent economic studies diagnosing “the tragic disconnection of millions of black youths from the American mainstream.” Patterson decried the pervasiveness and bankruptcy of “the ‘cool-pose’ culture of young black men” – “hanging out on the street after school, shopping and dressing sharply, sexual conquests, party drugs, hip-hop music and culture” – the power of which, he said, is “almost like a drug.”

Under this theory, then, Dash looks more and more like the dupe of a corrupt value system, an object lesson of empty consumerism. Dash has never been very interested in hip hop as an artistic movement. “It’s all about finding ways to make money off an upscale urban product,” he says. “That’s what I do. I’m a businessman. Period.” In his view, if there’s more to life than money and taste, it’s all the great stuff you can get if you have money and taste.

Dash may be no more or less a guilty party in the commercial exploitation of hip hop than some of his peers – Sean “Diddy” Combs comes to mind – not to mention the (mostly white) record-company executives who got in on the action. But Dash is the one whose cash cow left him, and he still doesn’t seem to know what hit him. Currently, his payroll includes a photographer, Monique, who is at his side to capture his every move – the benefits he attends and the occasional audition he gives aspiring rappers…

“I know Damon will figure something out, because he’s Damon Dash,” says Russell Simmons, Def Jam’s founder (he no longer owns the company). “The thing you have to understand about this guy is, he thought the whole thing up. Jay-Z just came from Damon’s imagination. The man is a visionary.”

No matter who wins on his reality show, Damon will always be the epitome of the ultimate hustler. 

“Damon Dash: The Man Who Would Be Bling”  [Independent]

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