S2 E7 | Dame Dash
Hip hop icon Dame Dash chronicles his success in business from his earliest wins in fashion, music and film to his plans to dominate sports and the metaverse in this week’s episode of “Assets Over Liabilities.” Hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings dug deep into the brilliant mind of the Harlem-made mogul to discuss the importance of ownership for the culture.
Dash opened the interview with a powerful and succinct quote that explains his approach to business: “I’m always trying to find the path to the least amount of work and the most amount of money. That’s my thing.”
Early on, the businessman learned that analyzing an opportunity thoroughly helps him make better decisions. “I don’t want to be busting my chops for short bread,” he said. “I like to know where the margin’s the best, and then I can control everything.” This desire for control can be seen through his various executive roles over the years, including his new venture into football.
The Rocawear co-founder openly discussed the logic behind launching his own football league. “It’s several plays,” he began. “It’s a real estate play. It’s a narrative play. There are no Black owners in the NFL, and I don’t like the way we’re treated culturally. It’s like systemic racism to me.” Ultimately, Dash wants to see more Black people in control of our collective image and opportunities to earn a living. With his league, he aims to see less white men dictating what Black players can and cannot do with their abilities.
“I don’t just want to be in the league, I want to show the world what it looks like when our culture runs something. When we’re actually the landlords,” he said.
He continued: “Everyone’s scared culturally when we own something. That’s what racism is built on — fear. But do they really know what it looks like when we own something? It looks fly. And it’s not like we’re going to be so scared that we’re going to oppress another culture. We’re so confident that we try to help everybody. So I believe that if we start a football league that’s run by us, for human beings, it’ll be better.”
Dash’s vision for his football league is bigger than just sports. He intends to revitalize towns across the country while also creating investment opportunities for the community’s elite.
“I want to bring everybody back to certain towns, I just want us to be the landlord,” the famed businessman continued. “I can bring entertainment, I can bring entrepreneurship, I can bring healing, I can bring so many different things.”
His is also forward-thinking, adding, “Everything I do in the real world, I also do in the metaverse, so I’d also have IO for ‘MFL’ … Metaverse Football League.”
The Harlem native has already staked his claim in the digital world. He’s gearing up to launch his first NFT gallery in the metaverse, featuring developing technology and a 4D digital rendering in his likeness. While he’s still working through his strategy and rollout, Dash discussed the complexities of the new world: “I thought it was a lot of freedom for a creative, but it’s a lot of freedom for a creative that almost has a Ph.D. Like, you have to have the attention span and a real understanding of how to do the things. The language is so unapproachable that it could turn a creative off.”
When asked if he has a mentor teaching him about the metaverse, the avid learner said he has a “sick crew” around him that is helping to break through the rhetoric and make understanding the new space more accessible. “There’s this woman Rita Lee,” he shared. “She was ahead of the game.” Lee helped rapper Lupe Fiasco produce a show at Dash’s studio, and it came with an NFT offering for fans and attendees.
This tribal mentality of looking out for those around him is something Dash prides himself on. “I must be a superhero because I always want to save people I love,” he said. “I’m like Batman — but I’m not Batman, I’m THAT Man. And I have a that-mobile, I got a that-cave, and I’m also that nigga. That’s the confidence you have to have to go to war for the people you love.”
Over time, Dame Dash has learned that the best way to protect his people is through ownership. “I’m an industry conqueror. So my intent when I walk into an industry is not to fit in, it’s to fuck it up. To fucking obliterate it, because it never behooves our culture,” he said.
Elsewhere during the episode, he reflected on the process of creating his first feature-length film, Paid in Full. Apparently, there were a lot of behind-the-scenes issues with funding, producing and promoting the 2002 cult classic. Setbacks included stakeholders bringing in new writers to add scenes and details that were inauthentic and damaging for the culture, withholding of resources for promotion and advertising, and even asking Dash to come out of his own pocket to reshoot certain scenes for continuity. Fortunately, the business mogul’s fighter spirit kicked in and he made waves to get the project to the big screen the right way.
While speaking on those issues, Dash discussed his interactions with the infamous Harvey Weinstein: “His brother ran Dimension [Films], he ran Miramax. Paid in Full was on Dimension, but Bob doesn’t go outside — Harvey does. So they was getting cute, but I would catch Harvey outside. I would catch him in Paris or I’d catch him in Cannes and I would make him uncomfortable … real uncomfortable so they had to have meetings with me.”
While the film did go on to make it’s mark in hip hop culture, Dash learned a valuable lesson in business. “I don’t want to be in that position to have to fight to make it right,” he reflected. “If you have to fight to make it right, you need to go left.”
He went on to explain his need for constant evolution and showing up to preserve the culture and commodity of the Black experience. “I got to make my own clothes. I got to make my own movies. I got to make my own television network. Me and my girl, we do our own children’s books. It’s just the art. We like having a point of view.”
The New York icon explained that his efforts are never about fitting in, rather he’s showing what it looks like to never give up and have undying confidence in your vision. “When you can visualize winning, you win. If you visualize losing, you lose,” he said.
Dash went into detail about his secret to winning time and time again across industries. He practices the art of visualization:
“First, I have to visualize the perfect dream. In the perfect dream, because it’s a dream, nothing’s wrong. It’s perfect. If there’s somebody around me telling me something that’s going to distract me from my perfect dream, they got to get away from me. I don’t want to hear any doubt in this dimension. The next dimension, I put it on paper. It’s a second dimension. Then I make it happen, that’s another dimension. Then I make it happen in the metaverse, which is another dimension. But, it all starts from this clear visual of winning.”
Watch the latest episode of “Assets Over Liabilities” in the video above to learn more from Dame Dash about fatherhood, Dame Dash Studios and controlling your own narrative in the media.