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Jay-Z vs Dame Dash: The Unraveling Of Roc-a-Fella Explained

Yesterday author Dan Charnas explained what caused the on-going beef between music legends Quincy Jones and Russell Simmons. Today, Charnas gives VIBE an explosive excerpt from his new book "The Big Payback", which gives her a sneak peek into what caused the Roc-a-Fella fall out.

While Jay-Z enjoyed his vacation, Damon Dash governed the expanding Roc-A-Fella empire. He made decisions without consulting Jay, but this was the natural course of events. Dame let Jay make the records, and Jay let Dame run the business. But Jay-Z’s relaxed Mediterranean summer was marred on more than one occasion by disturbing news from home.

At a media listening party, Dash had announced the promotion of RocA-Fella artists Cam’Ron and Beanie Sigel to vice presidents at the company. Jay-Z made an equally public denial via phone from Europe.

“That’s not taking effect as of yet,” he told The Source. “I think the talk is a little premature as of right now.”

Next Jay-Z found out that Dash was shooting a movie, a fictionalized account of their partnership, with actors playing them both. Jay hadn’t even met the guy playing him. It was unsettling.

Then Jay-Z heard that Dash had fired a bunch of folks in the office, including personal assistant Carline Balan, who called Jay, distraught. Jay flew her to Europe and hired her as his own girl Friday.

Jay-Z’s friends and colleagues—like Kevin Liles, who accompanied Jay on part of his European tour—could see the artist wrestling with conflicting impulses about Dash. On one hand, when Lyor Cohen offered the buyout in late 2001—the one that would have effectively paid his partners to go away and left Jay-Z in charge of Roc-A-Fella—Jay-Z turned it down out of loyalty to Dash and Burke. On the other hand, Dash’s combative style, which had been indispensible when Roc-A-Fella was promoting records and negotiating deals, had become noxious once those ventures became ongoing, workaday relationships. Moreover, the people whom Dash harangued were good people, Jay concluded, people who fought hard for him and his career. Jay happened to like Cohen and Liles, Norton and Alex. Dash saw everyone as the enemy. With Dash’s latest moves, Jay began to feel his partner turning his compulsive defiance in his direction. Before Jay-Z returned to the states, the rapper renewed his talk about retirement. His next album—a “black album” with no photography, no artwork—would be his last.

Several months after Jay-Z’s homecoming, Damon Dash made another unilateral change at Roc-A-Fella—not widely known, but of fateful import for the future of their partnership—when Dash axed Roc-A-Fella’s finance chief, John Meneilly.

Meneilly had come to Roc-A-Fella from Provident Financial Management, a firm that handled the accounts, investments, and businesses of many artists and executives in the entertainment business. Meneilly was something of a rock star himself: He had made partner in his early thirties. Among his clients were pop-music icons like the Dave Matthews Band, and hip-hop executives like Chris Lighty. It had been Lighty who first introduced Meneilly to the music of Jay-Z. When Roc-A-Fella became a Provident client, Meneilly took the account. And when Meneilly left Provident, RocA-Fella hired him full-time, where he handled the details for which Damon Dash had neither the time nor the patience. It was Meneilly, for instance, who assembled Roc-A-Fella’s 1999 “Hard Knock Life” tour that brought hip-hop back to American arenas.

When he first began working with Roc-A-Fella, John Meneilly dealt exclusively with the mercurial Dash. But Meneilly’s cool, even-keeled, intuitive temperament aligned more with that of Jay-Z. Before long, Meneilly had become Jay-Z’s de facto manager, and the rapper from the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn came to trust the sharp, silver-templed White guy with the goatee, who harbored a similar ambition for success and an ease with the hip-hop party life. They came to share the same views on some of Dash’s deeds, with Meneilly providing Jay-Z quiet confirmation of the artist’s better judgment. Meneilly’s presence reassured Def Jam’s executives, too.

From THE BIG PAYBACK: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas. Published by arrangement with NAL, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Dan Charnas, 2010.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”


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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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