Dame Dash appeared today (January 5, 2018) in an interview with Kenyatta Griggs with whom he discussed Aaliyah and her controversial relationship with R. Kelly. According to documents, she was 15 at the time of the marriage, which lasted from 1994-1995.
The Aaliyah-related exchange was motivated by the Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly,” a mini-series that’s been roiling social media ever since it began airing on January 3rd. In the exchange, the 47-year-old Dash argued that Jay Z’s decision to work with Kelly on Best of Both Worlds (which dropped in 2002), drove them apart.
However, it’s been pointed that Dash prominently appears in R. Kelly’s 2001 “Fiesta” video, which also features Jay-Z, Boo and Gotti. While the scandalous video tape featuring R. Kelly peeing on a minor didn’t surface until February 3, 2002, the Chicago Sun Times published a December 2000 article whose headline is “R. Kelly accused of sex with teenage girls.”
When the “Fiesta” video was shot Dash was in a relationship with Aaliyah, who he began dating in July 2000 until her death in August 2001. It’s worth noting that Dash met Aaliyah through Jay-Z, who was rumored to be dating her at the time.
In the interview, Dash said Aaliyah told him about her relationship with Kelly. Said Dash, “There was a girl when she was even trying to talk about it, she couldn’t. And I remember Aaliyah trying to talk about it and she couldn’t. She would just leave it at ‘That dude was a bad man.’ I didn’t really want to know what he did, to the extent that I might feel the need, you know, to just deal with it, just because that’s what a man does. But it was so much hurt for her to revisit it. It was like, I wouldn’t even want to revisit it without a professional. Whatever got done was terrible.”
Dash then argued that Jay Z’s decision to collaborate with Kelly on the 2002 album Best of Both Worlds was part of what drove them apart as Roc-A-Fella business partners. Dash stated, “I’ve been tight about shit for this years. So to be honest, like if you remember the Best of Both Worlds, you don’t see my name on that. You know what I mean? I never wanted no parts of that. So my homie was doing that shit and I was like, bro, you know my homie violate and he violated my girl. He violated further. So you known when he moved forward with that, I was like yo, I was like yo, I don’t want no parts of that, put my part of that to Aaliyah’s breast cancer thing.”
He added that the timing of the Kelly album coincided with Jay’s attempts to make management changes at the label. Dash explained, “But then that was around the time when Jay was acting like he didn’t want to move forward with all of us as partners because he didn’t want [Kareem] “Biggs” [Burke] down because he wasn’t doing nothing. And I was like, yo bro’, I can’t move forward without Biggs. I was like we can start something new, but Roc-A-Fella, you know that’s us. We can start Dynasty Records, but we gotta maintain Rock-A-Fella. And our OG squashed it from St. Kitts, deuce. One of the settlements was, alright well dog, you know, you just keep all of that because fuck it, I wasn’t gonna have none of that anyway.”
Dash then referenced the infamous 2002 pee-tape video and how it upturned plans for a tour in support of Best of Both Worlds. “The thing I didn’t understand, I was like, I know I’m not fucking with that. And because of the moral challenge and [Jay-Z] choosing one way, I knew morally we weren’t the same. So to me Roc-A-Fella was defunct. It was over. I couldn’t fuck with it. It was something that to me was, not gonna say unforgivable, but I couldn’t understand it. I thought the people are going to have it, but nobody said nothing.”
While Dash claims Jay’s decision to work with Kelly caused an irreparable rift, Dash is listed as an executive producer on Jay Z’s 2003 The Black Album.
Jay-Z and Kelly recorded a second album, Unfinished Business, which dropped in October 2004. The two artists toured in support of the album though Kelly was kicked off halfway through because of erratic behavior. As Dash mentioned, the two artists were originally slated to tour in 2002, but scrapped the plan because of the uproar over the video.
In 1997, Island Def Jam Music Group purchased a 50-percent stake in Roc-A-Fella Records. In December 2004 Jay, Dash and Burke sold their remaining 50-percent shares of Roc-A-Fella Records to parent company Island Def Jam.
Just prior to the announcement of the sale, Jay-Z was appointed the president of Def Jam Recordings, the parent company of R0c-A-Fella Records. As part of the deal, Jay-Z was granted ownership of the masters of his entire discography of music with the exception of Reasonable Doubt, whose ownership was split among Jay, Dash and Biggs.
In a New York profile, it’s implied the break up was caused by the two reaching a fork in the road as Jay-Z pushed to have more decision-making power, a change in dynamics Dash resisted. When Jay-Z told Dash about taking on the role of president, Dash told him, “”Go ahead and take the money and the job, but don’t take the name. Don’t take Roc-A-Fella with you.”
Jay-Z in turn told him he would trade Dash the name of the company for full ownership of the Reasonable Doubt masters, and Dash declined the offer. Nowhere in the lengthy article does Dash mention having issues with Jay-Z because of his association with Kelly.
Check out the exchange below. Dash image via David Shankbone.