With news breaking every day around the increasingly disturbing R. Kelly story, hip-hop mogul Damon “Dame” Dash has added yet another interesting tidbit. As you’ll recall, Dash dated the late Aaliyah around the time of her tragic death — giving him particular insight into the troubled relationship the young R&B star had with R. Kelly, who was her mentor and clandestine “husband” for a short period when she was 15. In an interview with Kenyatta “the Hip-Hop Motivator,” Dash gave his perspective on the situation, saying that Aaliyah couldn’t really talk about her time being in a close relationship with R. Kelly, who has faced numerous accusations of alleged sexual assault and harassment. He said in the interview which was transcribed by Entertainment Tonight, “She just would leave it at ‘that dude was a bad man.'”
Dash founded Roc-A-Fella Records with Jay-Z and Kareem “Biggs” Burke back in the mid-’90s. According to Dash, Jay-Z’s willingness to collaborate with R. Kelly on the Best of Both Worlds album, which was released in 2002 was a major factor in the eventual dissolution of the label. “If you remember [JAY and Kelly’s 2002 album] The Best of Both Worlds, you don’t see my name on that. I never wanted no parts of that…So my homes [JAY] was doing that shit. I was like ‘Bro, you know homie violated and he violated my girl. He violated a friend of yours,'” he added. “So, you know, when he moved forward I was like… ‘Yo, I don’t want no parts of that. Put my part to Aaliyah’s breast cancer thing.'”
“Karma happens,” he said. “But the thing that I didn’t understand was, like, ‘I know I’m not fucking with that’ and because of the moral challenge and him choosing one way, I knew, morally, we weren’t the same. So, to me, Rock-A-Fella was defunct. It was over. I couldn’t fuckk with it. It was something that, to me, was just like…not to say ‘unforgivable,’ but I couldn’t understand it. I thought, ‘Well, the people aren’t gonna have that.’ But nobody said nothing.”
Roc-A-Fella continued to release albums into the early ’10s, but by 2005 the professional relationship between Dash and Jay-Z had effectively ended and the two began to work in different directions. The final years of Roc-A-Fella found the label releasing very few new records, though Jay-Z did attempt to revive the label, merging it with Roc Nation and released the collaborative album Watch the Throne with Kanye West in 2011 and solo album Magna Carta in 2013. Since then, the label — at one time among the biggest in hip-hop — has essentially been silent.
You can check out the full interview below:
Photo Credit: Sharon Alagna