Dame Dash is a known name in hip-hop. However, he has never been known as a rapper or a producer. He has always been lauded and respected as a businessman. As a co-founder of Roc-A-Fella alongside Jay-Z, Dame Dash (real name Damon Dash) is known as a money man who cuts the cheques behind the scenes.
As the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella, Dash has seen a lot of artists come and go. From Amil to Beanie Sigel and more, he has a knack for spotting. However, he wasn’t on point with Kanye West as in a 2022 interview on Fox Sports’ Club Shay Shay, the label executive admitted he never believed Kanye would succeed as a rapper.
In 1999, Kyambo Joshua, the A&R of Roc-A-Fella and the CEO of a production house named Hip-Hop met West and saw his beat-making ingenuity, and in 1998, Joshua signed Kanye to the roster of Hip-Hop. In 1999, Joshua presented Jay-Z with one of Kanye’s beats. The instrumental for ‘This Can’t Be Life’ features Beanie Sigel and Scarface. It would appear on Jay-Z’s 2000 album, The Dynasty: Roc-La-Familia.
Although it was evident that the Chicago icon was a talented producer, many at the label were unsure of his ability as an emcee, and they were doubtful he could move a meaningful amount of units as an artist. Dash continued to utilise West’s beats, and although he was hesitant at first, in 2002, he signed West as a rapper.
Kanye is one of two hip-hop billionaires, and Dash was oblivious to his emceeing ability in the early 2000s. When asked by Shannon Sharpe if he could have predicted the success West has achieved, the mogul responded, “No, I never expected that in a billion years… I didn’t expect it!”
Dash continued, “I expected other people that were in my crew to be Kanye. I expected someone to do those things, but I didn’t know it would be him. But the reason why it was him is because he had the most respect for me. He’s the only one who listened completely. And still does — on certain levels.”
Although was extremely sceptical of Kanye as a lyricist, Dash admitted he has become the most important musician of the 21st Century, stating, He’s turned into our new Michael Jackson. Whether that’s negative or positive, but that’s just is what it is. I wasn’t expecting all that from Kanye.” You can watch Dame Dash’s Club Shay Shay interview in the video below.