The perpetual battle between Damon Dash and Funk Master Flex exposes an ideological war of the ages.
For the last few years, hip hop lifestyle impresario Damon Dash has been an entrepreneurship crusader. Dash always represented the hustler’s spirit and a bootstrapping mentality.
Now he’s ramped up his personal output, rearranged his priorities, and made education and innovation his primary calling card.
Since dissolving his Roc-a-fella Records imprint, Dash has been very vocal about the mechanics behind the brand. Founded by himself and partners Kareem “Biggs” Burke and Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, the label is responsible for a shift in popular culture.
Dash was always seen as the heart of the brand due to his aggressive approach to marketing and negotiation. From holding other entertainment executives accountable and showing it on video, Dash taught many how to let their nuts hang.
However, as he exposed the difference between an independent mentality and a corporate one, Dash alienated members of his own team. Mainly the engine behind the Roc-a-fella brand, JAY-Z.
Carter benefitted from the Dash level of aggression while staying firmly in the creative lane. Business owners know that in any partnership someone has to be the good cop and another the bad.
Dash relished the bad cop role.
Carter was able to utilize his behind the scenes likability to create his own entities sans Dash. Although he co-owns many businesses now, Shawn Carter works under the strategy of corporate utilization.
Dash loves independence and now sacrifices corporate financing for true independence. This approach and reproach that Dash gives to those who choose corporate utilization has created critics.
The Funk Master Perspective
Ashton “Funk Master Flex” Taylor, Jr. is a DJ and radio personality. He has worked for Emmis Communications in New York City for 26 years. While there Flex has launched his own lifestyle entertainment company. He has released albums, car lifestyle programming, extended his DJ brand internationally, and much more.
Still, Flex’s primary claim to fame is his position as a personality on Hot 97. It has been consistent and allowed him to branch into other business ventures.
Flex has taken it upon himself to “out” Dash for what he feels is inconsistencies. After popularizing the term “culture vulture”, about corporations and executives feeding off the culture of creatives, Flex felt Dash over spoke.
Flex outlined the label advance Dash received from then Def Jam President Lyon Cohen for Roc-a-fella Records. Cohen is an Israeli-American that came up under Def Jam founders Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin.
Cohen earned his spot undoubtedly through perseverance and loyalty through the years. The music business, and business in general, are treacherous and Cohen assuredly has done some dastardly deeds in business.
Still, Flex believes that Dash speaks half truths in relation to taking money from corporations early in his career. Now that he seems to be ousted from the major commercial entertainment game, Flex has fashioned Dash as a crybaby.
Speaking Boss vs. Speaking Yessir
Both Dash and Flex are entrepreneurs. Both men have aligned with big corporate at one time or another to advance their careers.
Dash has constantly amended his self-sufficiency narrative to include nine-to five workers that don’t forget to work on their personal projects.
There is a difference between being an entrepreneur at all costs and working towards your goals diligently while working for someone else.
As an entrepreneur, I have always had an affinity for the Dame Dash business and etiquette rants. I’ve admired his fearlessness and tenacity. Although I respect Shawn Carter, I have always felt that his insecurities made him leave the Dash business shadow in exchange for corporate financiers to boost his business image.
Flex is no different and there are two ways to look at business investment strategy.
One is to use other people’s money and give up ownership. The other is to use a mix of your own money and other’s people’s while keeping your ownership.
Ownership denotes integrity to Dash. To not own his creativity is akin to slavery.
For Flex, success is relative to pushing your personal agenda. Compromise is a part of the process that he can understand while Dash cannot compromise unless it is structured to stabilize his integrity.
Speaking “Yessir” or “Slave” is a defeatist mentality while speaking “Boss” is the antithesis.
Whether you believe that Dash or Flex has the better perspective is personal. The fact that they are both keeping the spirit of entrepreneurship in the forefront is important.
What any business owner must ask themselves is: how much am I willing to lose or gain to be successful? This all revolves around knowing who you are.
Without that you are lost.
Damon Dash has fully owned who he is and it is commendable. Flex’s staunch critique of Dash is an example of another business owner trying to bury a dissenting opinion.
Instead Flex should have intellectualized it.
While on your respective entrepreneurial journeys, differentiate between the options that will be presented to you and don’t face off with them.
However, if you move without integrity you ultimately will talk “slave” and will always say “yessir” to keep your agenda alive.
Speak “boss” and live your truth with integrity intact. Anything else is gossip and fodder for those looking for an escape from the realities of business decision-making.