Ever since leaving the limelight of hip-hop, Damon Dash has been active, vocal and engaged in a tall pile of entrepreneurial ventures. He takes pride over the fact that, unlike his former partner Jay-Z, he is deeply connected to the black community and operating as an independent businessman.
He has also complained extensively about what he refers to as “culture vultures,” or individuals who’ve robbed hip-hop of its authenticity in exchange for getting rich by marketing self-destruction among young black men. He has a point, since a lot of young black men are now imitating the unhealthy habits being promoted by mainstream rappers, including the excessive violence, promiscuity, drug/alcohol consumption, promotion of ignorance, disrespect for black women and financial irresponsibility. Most of these habits don’t lead to success: They either lead to prison, drug rehab, bankruptcy courts, the STD clinic or death.
In a more recent development in his life, Dash has taken on Lee Daniels, director of the “The Butler.” Dash says that he put money into Daniels’ film, only to find that everyone got paid what they deserved except for him. The film went on to become wildly successful, but Dash feels that he was shorted on the project.
Dash says that he’s invested in numerous projects with Daniels, including ”The Woodsman,” “Precious,” “The Paperboy” and ”The Butler.” He says that he put a whopping $2 million into “The Woodsman” back in 2004 and never received any kind of return on his investment.
According to TMZ, Dash also claims that he was defrauded out of executive producer credits on other film projects as well. He is suing to the tune of $25 million.
As expected, Daniels’ reps are saying that the suit is “completely without merit.” We’ll see how this turns out.
Lessons from this story:
1) Success can often lead to the end of many important friendships in your life. Before investing big money into anything, make sure you have iron clad contracts to protect your relationship. If the project becomes wildly successful, you should not be surprised if the principal manager in the deal seeks to try to push you out. Most friendships aren’t worth a million dollars to nearly anyone.
2) Lawsuits are a natural, yet inconvenient part of doing business at the highest levels. There isn’t always a clear right or wrong, and the job of the courts is to clear up any ambiguity.