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HYPETRAK: Damon Dash – Business vs. Artistry

Speaking candidly about his burgeoning relationship with adidas, his favorite cities in the Far East, and young stars like A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, a conversation with Damon Dash now is quite different than it would’ve been 10 years ago. Dash is the first to admit this in a recent interview, where HYPETRAK had the opportunity to talk with the businessman in a post-Roc-A-Fella era. Recently, Dash has been involved with several creative endeavors, including the launch of media collective DD172, a fashion brand, and various art galleries.  Check out a brief excerpt below and read the full piece over at HYPETRAK.

How do art and business coexist?

A true artist wants to maintain a good lifestyle. But the problem is that it is hard for them to make money because they have to deal with people they usually don’t want to deal with. Business implies doing things that you necessarily don’t want to do and doing it at a certain level. For artists, in order to get their art monetized, they probably need a true business person behind them. That’s why I stopped doing it in the music business because I did not like the people that I had to deal with. At the end of the day, it is not worth it because I would rather just make it for the love of it as opposed to squeezing every possible dime out of it. As far as I am concerned, I’m really artistic. I am more artistic than I previously realized.

When you are creative, you simply have to figure out how to pay the bills. Sometimes there are things that can be monetized within your comfort zone and protect your artistry at the same time. So yea, there are things that I do that make money and there are things that I do that don’t make money — I simply do them because I’m inspired. It is great when you worry about something and you don’t have to bastardize it for the sake of the dollar. So for music, when you have a certain formula — and it has to be edited and adapted for a play on the radio and a certain type of audience — it’s not art anymore. There are no rules and regulations with art. You have to compromise to some extent in order to be seen. You have to be willing to do that step. For artists, the internet is great because it provides you with a platform to do that without having to compromise. However, at the end of the day, you still have to figure out how to break bread and pay the bills. A real man takes care of himself and his family. So there has to be a balance. Figuring out how to keep your family alright and not be selfish while also being creative and inspired. That is true artistry. Protect that. You can’t really monetize something that is in its purest form. And I like things to be pure. I don’t like to compromise when it comes to certain things, but the bills have to get paid. It’s a clear line. You have to know what pays the bills and you have to know what is completely creative and uncompromisable and it’s not supposed to make money. But the fact that it’s so cool, usually ends up you making some money.


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