Damon Dash talks XXL magazine covers from his Roc-A-Fella days, and his perception of media coverage back in the days. Here are a few excerpts from the article.
How did the December 1999 cover come together, with you, Memphis Bleek, Amil, Beanie and Jay?
I feel like every time—at least when I was on the cover—it always felt like there was some kind of a negotiation, a little stress, but not in a bad way, just a negotiation. I think Jay had done a cover for
The Source—I’m not sure, though—and we weren’t allowed to do a cover alone. That was really the only way we could get Jay on the cover, is if we were all on it. But, at the time, we were rolling, so I felt like we deserved it. I’m trying to figure out what made me want to be on the cover, though. [Laughs] My mind was in a different place back then
What about the June 2005 issue, with you and Cam’ron?
I remember how that cover happened. A couple issues before that, [XXL] had put some bullshit in there, like a picture of a Roc-A-Fella chain, and it was just saying a whole bunch of fucked-up things about us. And, at the time, I was giving a couple of million dollars in advertising a year to XXL. Like, I’m not gonna be putting Rocawear ads in and Roc-A-Fella artists, all these movies I’m doing, for y’all to be shitting on me. Especially when it was, like, rumor shit, the whole article. So I was like, “I’m pulling all my ads.” [Laughs] I was like, “Y’all gotta give me a cover with one of my artists.”… Anytime I had a platform, I didn’t want to be on the cover. I just wanted my artist to get it. That was when the Roc-A-Fella split had first happened… I didn’t even really understand the split, so if you read the article, I was, like, confused, like, “Whatever, I don’t give a fuck.”
Did you have an initial reaction to the August 2005 Roc-A-Fella cover with Jay-Z, LeBron James and everybody?
Not really. I was so out of hip-hop at the time. I was more looking at Vogue. [Laughs] I’m 38 years old. At the time, I was 35. It wouldn’t be my demographic anymore. My son was looking at it maybe, or it was in passing, but it really wasn’t something I was too concerned about. I didn’t even read the article.