For those who aren’t familiar with who Dash is, he’s an entrepreneur and was a founder and a force behind the mega successful Roc-A-Fella records. The other famous founder? Jay-Z. In fact, Dame Dash was once Jay-Z’s manager and business partner. Of course, all good things must come to an end eventually, and the two parted ways after a very public business split.
I just really felt the need to write about this recent Dame Dash interview with the folks on The Breakfast Club, since I’m seeing a lot of people talking about it. And I’m not sure if I agree with the ways some folks are lauding this interview.
As I listened intently, trying to glean the “gems” others believed he was dropping, I couldn’t help but shake my head at most of the stuff Dash says.
And while with anything, it’s important to “eat the meat and spit the bones,” as they say, my thought is there were more bones than meat and I’m wondering if it’s just me.
Even before I made the decision to start a business, I’ve always been one who thirsts for knowledge, with an insatiable appetite for learning. I’m of the belief you can learn from anyone and though Dash said many things I disagreed with, there were some lessons to be learned from this interview.
So, for starters, let’s get those out of the way. Here are some of the “good points” I think Dash makes:
- It’s important to be producers rather than consumers all the time.
- He harps on the importance of legacy.
- He has a fierce sense of independence and advocates for direct to consumer distribution.
Aaand that’s about it. Honestly, I was left largely unimpressed and even slightly offended about all problematic remarks he makes.
While he said some “good” stuff, much of that Dame Dash interview was cloaked with sexism, misogyny and heteronormativity, which is hard to get past if you’re a woman like me – or a person who understands the importance of gender parity.
If you give the interview a listen, you’ll notice all the interjections of “pause” (an offensive verbal tic that follows anything that can be remotely twisted to be considered homosexual…I honestly thought only teenaged boys did this). He uses the feminine to disparage, saying many times that “real men don’t…”He harps on the idea of legacy (which, in isolation, is a good thing), but he acts as if women don’t exist in business (which is funny since his ex-wife, Rachel Roy is an entrepreneur), or as if we can’t build or or carry on legacy. It’s interesting because all throughout the interview Dame makes numerous mentions of his son and how his son is carrying on his legacy (I guess because he will carry the Dash last name?), but makes no mention of his daughters, who outnumber his son (or, to be fair, may not be old enough to actively participate in business).
In a feeble attempt throw us a bone, Dash says that he doesn’t surround himself with many men because men are inherently resentful of other men’s successes and men aren’t wired to be “under” or employed by other men. Women, on the other hand, are loyal and supportive, which is why Dash surrounds himself with them.
It’s an underhanded “compliment” that’s a thinly veiled attempt to disempower and minimalize, but okay.
When asked the inevitable questions about his former business partner, Jay-Z, he puts a moratorium on those questions once and for all, declaring that he has no desire to talk about other men.
As if all of this weren’t enough, Dash gets digs into hypermasculine even deeper by saying that “real men don’t have a boss…that’s like calling someone Daddy.” Dash speaks condescendingly of people (especially men) who are employed because they aren’t “bosses” and therefore don’t have power – despite the fact that other VERY successful entrepreneurs, including himself (although he argues to the contrary), have had to once work for someone else in order to raise the capital necessary to launch their own businesses.
And beyond that, it seems that Dame fails to recognize one very real fact: that not everyone is cut out (or even WANTS) to be an entrepreneur. To speak disparagingly of someone who works for someone else to earn an honest living is not only short-sighted (because our economy needs those who aren’t entrepreneurs, just as much as we need entrepreneurs and businesses need employees!), it’s offensive. He even says that “jobs are for lazy people who don’t want to invest in themselves.”
Furthermore, many times, it’s through employment that those of us who have taken the leap into entrepreneurship even have the skills to do such a thing. The skills necessary to interface with clients, customers, distributors, and fellow business people are often gleaned from working for someone else. To belittle someone because they choose to gain these skills in this way is a glaring oversight that creates a large disparity in Dame’s logic, versus the reality for many people – including myself.
Dash unrealistically declares that “everyone should be a boss” (by his definition of the term). And to that I ask, one simple question: how, sir? I ask because…capitalism.
When asked about whether he used questionable business tactics, Dash dismisses those as rumors and declares that “real men don’t listen to social media.” I just have one word for that foolery: IRRELEVANT. To dismiss the importance of social media is a entrepreneurial death wish. And I’m not just saying that because I love social media.
Finally, despite his early successes with Roc-A-Fella and Jay-Z, Dame also has some problematic views on how businesses should get started and sustained with capital. He brags about the fact that for nearly all of his ventures – and ALL of the ones where he is “the boss” (whatever that means), he’s put up his own money to start (and/or complete) projects.
And this is the part that – as a business person – didn’t sit well with me. Because, conventional, enterprising wisdom tells us (and other successful business people have proven time and again), that while it may be necessary to use your own money to start up, one of the better ways to scale and maintain success in business is to use OTHER people’s money. After all, why are so many start ups clamoring to woo investors?
Some say it’s smarter, others, like Dame, believe there’s no honor in that.
It was right then when I really understood why, after the split, Jay-Z went on to modulgom, while Dame Dash sort of faded in the background (not to diminish any of his success, but in the grand scheme of things…Jay wins): Dash refuses to separate the hood/street code/mentality from his business dealings. And because of that he became stagnated and essentially pressed “pause” on his own success (pun intended). Truthfully, his code of the streets prevented him from sustaining and scaling that earlier success.
Look, it’s clear that Dame has some modicum of business savvy. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have been so successful at Roc-A-Fella and with helping to propel Jay-Z’s earlier career, but his desperate desire to hang on to the street mentality, his emphasis and the need to perform and uphold hypermasculinity, his palpable bitterness toward his former partner’s successes, and his unrealistic, outlandish views of how and what it means to be a “boss” are just not the same ideals I share in business.
And my hope is, they won’t be yours (or our children’s) either.
Check out the full interview, here:
Sound off: what did you think about Dash’s Breakfast Club interview? I’d love to hear from you.