Artist News Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

Damon Dash launches Roc-A-Fella NFT auction (again)

By | Published on Wednesday 21 July 2021

Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

Despite the ongoing legal battle surrounding Damon Dash’s right to sell his stake in the Roc-A-Fella Records business via an NFT auction, Damon Dash has launched an NFT auction via which he will sell his stake in the Roc-A-Fella Records business.

With bidding set to open on Friday, Dash yesterday opened his own NFT “gallery” through which he will sell his stake in Roc-A-Fella, as well as a painting called ‘The Yellow Elephant’ by his fiancée Raquel M Horn.

Dash’s attempts to sell off his share of Roc-A-Fella have already been blocked once by one of the label’s other co-founders and shareholders, that being Jay-Z. Legal action accused Dash of illegally attempting to sell the recording rights to Jay-Z’s debut album ‘Reasonable Doubt’. But Dash countered that he was merely trying to sell his share of the whole company, which he is allowed to do.

In a subsequent countersuit, Dash then accused Jay-Z of “unjust enrichment” and “breach of fiduciary duty” via the “unauthorised theft of Roc-A-Fella Records’s streaming rights in the ‘Reasonable Doubt’ album by defendant’s transferring of these rights, without authorisation, to S Carter Enterprises LLC, which is solely owned by defendant”.

Expanding on all that in a new interview with Variety, Dash says: “My main question has forever been, ‘why doesn’t he want me to sell my third?’ Then we look under the hood, and it’s ‘oh, snap’ – there’s this change in the copyright that we know Roc-A-Fella Records held”.

“We never saw any changes on our ledgers. When he tried to sell me the company before, I asked him to send me over the ledgers”, he goes on. “There was no money of representation through Spotify or any streaming services. So where is any of the money going now? And who authorised any changes to its copyright?”

“I didn’t”, he adds. “When they sent me the books is when they sent me their offer to buy me out… I just want some answers to some questions. I’m the boss of Roc-A-Fella Inc. Everybody knows I am the CEO, and that Jay was the artist. That was our jobs. That’s a known fact”.

Prior to all that, a court in New York issued a temporary restraining order blocking Dash from launching a new NFT auction in relation to ‘Reasonable Doubt’. Last Friday, Dash failed in an attempt to get his own restraining order, blocking a meeting between Jay-Z and the label’s other co-owner, Kareem Burke, seemingly to discuss changing some of the company’s official policies.

With the legal action still being knocked back and forth, Dash is seemingly keen to get going with his NFT auction before the lawyers can get moving again. In a statement on his new gallery website, Dash says that he is “fighting for the independence of artists” and “fighting for good taste”.

“I don’t think an artist should have to compromise or give away everything that makes them special to make a dollar or be seen”, he says of the NFT website and his initial auctions. “What I love about this is that the artist still gets bread when they sell their art, then it resells. If I come into an industry, I want to change it for the better. The thing about the NFT world is I get to empower artists. I get to be the artist. I get to be Billy Pablo III”.

Who is Billy Pablo III? Well, Damon Dash. But that’s probably too confusing to get into at the moment. The point is, he’s empowered. Empowered to sell his share of a company he founded.

Dash also spoke to Variety about the confusion over whether he was selling the rights in ‘Reasonable Doubt’ in their entirety, or just his stake in the Roc-A-Fella company.

Dash says: “They knew that I wasn’t trying to sell the whole company, so why say it? It was a very intentional thing for them to do, so that people would think that they cannot buy anything that I was selling – even that which is mine to sell. Their efforts were all to muddy the waters, to discount, discredit, and devalue a property that I own”.

Even if he is selling a stake in Roc-A-Fella rather than the rights to ‘Reasonable Doubt’, the Jay-Z album is basically the label’s only asset, so they are in some ways the same thing, even if Dash is clear that only a third of the business is up for grabs. And it has to be said, the blurb and accompanying video about the new auction do both focus heavily on ‘Reasonable Doubt’.

“Damon Dash is selling his one-third interest in Roc-A-Fella Inc, which owns ‘Reasonable Doubt’, Jay-Z’s first album”, the website announces. “The highest bidder will also receive the commemorative NFT ‘It’s The Roc’ (2021) presenting certificate of ownership. Own a moment in time when ‘Reasonable Doubt’ changed hip hop culture. The album that influenced and touched so many lives”.

Last time Dash launched this auction he used a third party site, which then cancelled the sale following a challenge by Jay-Z. The launch of his own NFT auction site maybe an effort by Dash to push through the sale this time by ignoring any such future demands. That said, it seems unlikely that there will be no new legal moves by Jay-Z to stop this latest auction. We shall see, I guess.

Watch a video trailer for the auction here: