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Damon Dash wants Roc-A-Fella to have its own Empire

(Photo: Getty Images, Rob Kim)

The success of Fox’s Empire has proven that people love a soap-y drama about the inner-workings of a hip-hop music label, but real-life producer Damon Dash thinks it would be even better if it were about an actual hip-hop music label—like, say, Roc-A-Fella Records, the one Dash co-founded in 1996 with Kareem Burke and a guy named Jay Z. According to Deadline, Dash and Preachers Of L.A. producer Lemuel Plummer are now developing a TV show based on the creation of Roc-A-Fella and how it “did nothing less than redefine pop culture,” with Plummer adding that the “story is so unbelievable and yet so true that we know we have an awesome responsibility as storytellers to get things right.”

Specifically billed as a combination of HBO’s Vinyl and FX’s The People Vs OJ Simpson, the plan is for the series to “examine the meteoric rise of the company that established Jay Z as a leading voice in hip-hop” while also “looking at the high cost of fame and the pursuit of it.” As the story goes, Roc-A-Fella was formed to release Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt after other labels rejected it, and it quickly began to grow while the rap community was in disarray following the murders of the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Eventually, though, “tensions” caused the founders to split up and Roc-A-Fella became part of Def Jam, which doesn’t use the name for much these days.


It sounds like Jay Z isn’t directly involved in any way, but Dash seems optimistic that he’ll participate in some capacity—even if it’s just to let his music be used. Speaking of, Dash says the show won’t be “about the music that you hear,” but instead will be more about the behind-the-scenes story of the label.

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