Dame Dash Discusses The Rift R. Kelly Caused Between Him & JAY-Z Because Of Aaliyah
Beginning last Thursday, January 3, the Lifetime network has aired the six-part documentary, Surviving R. Kelly. The series takes viewers through the life of Robert Kelly from 1970 to the present day. More notably, the documentary executive produced by dream hampton examines the sexual allegations and legal actions against the superstar Chicago, Illinois singer and takes first-hand accounts from his accusers, witnesses, and alleged victim family members.
In a recent interview, Kenyatta “The Hip-Hop Motivator” Griggs sat down to discuss Surviving R. Kelly, with Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash. In a candid 35 minutes, Dame reacted to the first third of a three-night TV event. He also offered his feelings about R. Kelly as a result of his relationship with Aaliyah. The late singer was briefly wed to Kelly, who mentored her while she was a teenage sensation. That marriage was annulled years later. Dash and Aaliyah were also romantically connected. Dash says that Robert Kelly’s past actions played a role in the mid-2000s rift between himself and his longtime business partner, JAY-Z. The pair, along with third Roc co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, eventually parted ways.
At the (10:00) mark, Damon Dash opens up about his feelings towards episode one of Surviving R. Kelly. “I watched some of [Surviving R. Kelly] yesterday, as much as I could tolerate. And I’m not gonna lie, as a human I was tight. And I was tight about a couple of things. Number one, there was a girl and when she was even trying to talk about it, she couldn’t. And I remember Aaliyah trying to talk about it, and she couldn’t,” Dame states. “She would just leave it at, ‘That dude was a bad man.’ And I didn’t really wanna know what he did to the extent that I might feel the need to deal with it, just ’cause that’s what a man does. But, it was just so much hurt for her to revisit it, it was like, I wouldn’t even want to revisit it without a professional. Whatever got done was terrible.”
In the next few moments, Dame addresses his silence surrounding Aaliyah and Kelly’s relationship, and how it affected his own business. Specifically, Dame address relationship and emotions regarding JAY-Z and his work with R. Kelly on their 2002 collaborative album, The Best Of Both Worlds.
Dame continues, “And then what bothered me [in Surviving R. Kelly] I watched John Legend be fearless about his opinion of [R. Kelly], regardless [of industry politics]. But I been tight about this sh*t for years. So, to be honest, like, if you remember The Best Of Both Worlds, you don’t see my name on [the album]. You know what I mean? I never wanted no parts of that. So when [R. Kelly] was doing that I [told JAY-Z], ‘Bro, you know our homie violated, and he violated my girl. He violated a friend of yours.’ So you know, when [JAY-Z] moved forward [with the project], to me I was like, ‘Yo, I don’t want no part of that.'” Dame also says that he donated his proceeds from the platinum collaborative album to breast cancer research. “But it was around that time when Jay was acting like he didn’t really want to continue and move forward with all of us as partners because he didn’t want Biggs [involved], ’cause he wasn’t doing nothing. And I was like ‘Yo bro, I can’t move forward without Biggs. You know, we can start something new. But Roc-A-Fella, that’s [all three of] us.”
Dash reiterates that he did not accept any income from The Best Of Both Worlds. He adds how R. Kelly’s subsequent sex scandal tapes of 2002 affected the sales and tour for the project which released less than one year after Aaliyah’s death. At (12:45) Dame reveals how Jay’s decision to stay on for the album forever changed his view of the longtime friend and associate.
“I knew morally [that JAY-Z and I] weren’t the same [anymore],” Dash admits. “So to me, Roc-A-Fella was defunct. It was over. I couldn’t f*ck with it. It was something to me was just like, not to say unforgivable. I couldn’t understand it. You know what I’m saying? I thought, well, the people aren’t gonna have that. But nobody said nothing.” And moments later he elaborates, “At the end of the day, my question is, ‘Why does it take people so long?’ Why is it only because there’s a documentary and now it’s popular, and now people are stepping up? This sh*t been going on for years and people been looking the other way. I know personally what happened to people I respected, looked the other way. You understand what I’m saying? Which to the extent that I didn’t have as much respect for ’em moving forward because, again, the moral fabric was compromised. Like damn. That was my girl.”
Notably, Roc-A-Fella Records would release a second album between Jay and Robert. Late 2004’s Unfinished Business topped the charts and scored the collaborators a second platinum plaque each. On the subsequent tour to the second album, the two artists reportedly clashed. That tension grew physical when Jay associate Tyran “Ty-Ty” Smith allegedly sprayed R. Kelly with mace, backstage. In 2006, Smith pled guilty to the ’04 assault. Following the incident, Jay finished the tour without Kelly. The two entertainers, who had collaborated since the late ’90s, battled legally over the split. Both R. Kelly’s $75 million suit and Jay’s counter-suit were eventually thrown out of court.
Later, at about the [17:00] mark, Kenyatta expresses his feelings on the responsibility for parents to have been better at protecting their daughters from “enabling predators like R. Kelly” in these alleged situations.
“I love Aaliyah more than anything, and she loved her parents more than anything. The one thing I’m not gonna do is gonna make her, or her legacy, or her parents feel uncomfortable. So there are some things that I just can’t address, just out of respect for her. So I gotta leave it at that,” Dash states. He and Aaliyah were linked in 2000 and 2001. “So I don’t even wanna be a part of that. You understand what I’m saying? Like, I can’t. ‘Cause at the end of the day, Aaliyah wouldn’t want that. And that’s all I care about. Whatever I feel personally, I gotta put the people I love before that.”
In addition to some bold remarks from John Legend, Surviving R. Kelly includes commentary from Civil Rights activist Tarana Burke, Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly, author Nelson George, Charlamagne Tha God, Miss Info, and others.