There are some serious layers to hip-hop’s rich history. There’s the moments documented for the world to see and some vantage points that often go overlooked. The latter was done by Funkmaster Flex this week when he came to the defense of Lyor Cohen while questioning Dame Dash’s “culture vulture” philosophy.
Flex took his thoughts to the Hot 97 studio Tuesday (Dec. 18) after he caught a bit of heat for posting a photo of legendary DJ Red Alert with Cohen at YouTube’s holiday party. After many people slammed him with the “culture vulture” label, he shared his disdain over Dash’s terminology and how Cohen helped Dash as well as Jay-Z and Kareem ‘Biggs’ Burk during the prime years of Roc-a-Fella Records.
“If Roc-a-Fella didn’t sign with Def Jam, Jay-Z would’ve been Mic Geronimo,” he said of their deal. “He would’ve been a respected lyricist that slipped to the bottom of the toilet because he had a bad label deal. Those guys who use the term ‘culture vulture,’ they cut that sleeping bag priority deal. They’re lucky Def Jam got them out the toilet.”
Roc-a-Fella’s deal with Def Jam came to be in 1997 when the trio sold half of their indie label for a reported $1.5 million. At the time, Lyor Cohen assisted Simmons in running Def Jam and working with a number of future industry legends like the late Chris Lighty and Kevin Liles.
In the early aughts, Def Jam bought the rest of the label for $10 million and in 2005, Jay became the CEO of Def Jam. In between, his career, as well as many under the Roc-a-Fella/State Property umbrella, soared like Memphis Bleek, Kanye West and Beanie Sigel. Jay also took back his masters for Reasonable Doubt and ran Roc-a-Fella during his tenure as CEO.
Flex shared his timeline of events with the Roc and Def Jam and explained how the label prospered during their business dealings with Cohen.
“It’s easy to come after the Jewish guy, the guy who is still rocking in 2018,” he said referring to Cohen’s current position the Global Head of Music at YouTube.
“It’s easy to point at that guy and take him to bat. I don’t know Lyor New York. You know what I know? I was on the streets and on the radio when they were trying to get their game going, so I can speak from that point. I’m not calling names. I’m going on the movement. You guys were the swag guys. The silent guys, moving, big dogs. After time you got forgotten, now you want to speak and be heard. You want credit. Lay in the same bed you laid in ’96, lay in the same bed in 2018,” he added.
He also mentioned the infographic shared by Forbes in their October interview with Burke, showing just how much influence Dash, Burke and Jay have today with their platforms like Roc Nation, Tidal and many more. “When you make your family tree of all the people you’ve helped, why don’t you make a tree of all the people that helped y’all?” Flex proposed.
Flex went on to denounce the term “culture vulture” which honestly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“That ‘culture vulture’ word, I’m not letting that fly with me anymore,” he said. “Don’t apply pressure to me on the ‘gram for a friend that I post. I’m going to tell you about Lyor Cohen. He road managed for Run DMC. It’s over, no one is touching that. They cut you millions bro. They gave you a million-dollar budget for all the marketing. Def Jam Records made you bro. They changed your life. We’re gonna stop this ‘culture vulture’ talk. That’s the word you talk about for your own failures. Dame Dash, I respect you for the utmost way. He helped me get out of a dark place. But bro, you are a liar. You lie because Jay-Z and Lyor aren’t on the gram to call you out on it.
Meanwhile, Dash extended a branch to Flex to publically speak on the matter.
“Holla at me when you get a chance. I prefer in person so we can speak like men but I doubt you’ll do that. Publicly live would be nice,” he said on Instagram. “Don’t make any excuses for not talking to me either be a man #chattypattyand turn your comments back on #doitfortheculture.”