By: Reggie Webb
If I ask you to define the word hustle by going to google or looking in a dictionary you may read definitions that go like this. Hus-tle-force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction or obtain by forceful action or persuasion. Another definition from one of these sources may say, hus-tle-busy movement and activity. From these definitions we would have to extract the words move, hurriedly, specified direction, movement, and activity to describe a fragment of the mentality of Dame Dash. In the inner city when you have a mind set to elevate and level up and your actions illustrate a desire to succeed, we call that hustle. Dame Dash is the epitome of independent hustle personified at its apex.
Dame grew up in Harlem, New York on 142nd and Lennox a notorious neighborhood known for some of the biggest drug king pins in American history. Losing his moms at an early age Dame got into the street life and began making a name for himself throughout his city. He formed a crew called, “The Best Out” and, they would throw lavish parties at the Cotton Club. The first 100 people in line would get a bottle of champagne and a shirt, eventually Dame started selling the shirts at these huge parties they would have, also at basketball tournaments they would have at Rucker Park. While Dame and his crew were flourishing in the streets, the murder of his friend Rich Porter caused him to want to step away from the street life.
Once Dame Dash stepped away from the streets he decided to take his knowledge of branding and marketing from the streets into the music business. In 1995 Dame Dash, Kareem Biggs, and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), formed a company called Roc A Fella. This business venture enabled to Dame to help launch some of the most successful and iconic careers in the entertainment industry. Some of the people he helped achieve major success are Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kevin Hart, Lee Daniels, Camron, Jim Jones, and Rachel Roy just to name a few. Roc-A-Fella Records sold over 20 million albums and the company eventually was sold 30 million dollars. The Roc-A-Wear clothing brand sold for 204 million dollars. During this run of success Dame also executive produced or directed movies such as Paid in Full, State Property, Shadow Boxer, Highlander, When Will I Be Loved, Paper Soldiers (starring Kevin Hart), Death of A Dynasty, Backstage, and Streets Is Watching. Roc A Fella Records ended up breaking up because the business partners had different interest and Dame Dash became 100% independent.
Dame Dash stepped away from the music industry and began other endeavors. He opened art galleries in America as well as Asia. He started his own streaming service Dame Dash TV, he directed and produced the movies Honor Up and Loisaidas. He started a web series with Kenyatta Griggs called, Hip Hop Motivation, he also put out a best-selling audiobook titled, “Culture Vultures”. He also created a whiskey called, “Dusko”, which is distilled, blended and bottled in Murcia Spain and aged for a minimum of 3 years. All these business ventures became known to a wider audience when Dame Dash was interviewed on The Breakfast Club morning show by, DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne. During this interview Dame Dash and DJ Envy debated back in forth about various business topics and Dame Dash vehemently pushed the ideology and message of ownership and independence. During this interview he stated, “if you don’t put up your own money you’re not a boss, start a business build it up and pass it to your children, hustle for your last name not your first”. I believe the words from this interview and his actions in life will inspire the next generation of business owners.
10 Dame Dash Rules for Success
1.) Learn Everything: Before you start a business try to learn everything about how that business operates. Understand how every operation works.
2.) Stand Out from The Crowd: Don’t be afraid to do something different, learn to embrace loneliness from being an individual. Never follow the trend become the trend.
3.) Take Control: You must know what makes you happy and stop living according to what people want you to do. Once you can control your actions you control your happiness.
4.) Be Independent: Create your own corporate structure like buying a product for 5 dollars and sell it for 20. The only difference between corporate and independent is corporations don’t use their own money, independents experience a certain freedom and pressure because of ownership.
6.) Work on Your Craft: lf you’re not devoting 8 to 10 hours a day to your craft than you’re not working to be the best. Being a professional means being the best and that requires a strict discipline and work ethic.
7.) Leave Your Comfort Zone: You can not be great being comfortable. Walk blindly into your purpose and take steps on faith.
8.) Make Good Product: If your work is good customers will come. Your reputation should be known as having the best product on the market.
9.) Be Selfless: One thing a boss must realize is that you must take care of other people before you take care of yourself. You must pay your staff first because they did the work.
10.) Do It All: Look at your small companies as marketing for your big company. Example, when I make a movie that’s creating a product. Now I must distribute the movie, so I create a platform like Dame Dash TV to distribute it. Then I create a clothing line that relates to the movie, and music I’ve created will be the soundtrack to the film. I leverage the things people pay for and use those things to market my product.