On June 25, 1996, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Dame Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke embarked on a creative journey that has morphed into a billion-dollar movement today with the release of the Reasonable Doubt LP.
On this day twenty-five years ago, Jay-Z's classic debut album "Reasonable Doubt" was released to the world
Everyone remembers the good ole days when Jay and Dame Dash were tight and Rocafella Records was on the come up. The label, founded by CEOs Damon Dash, Jay-Z and Kareem "Biggs" Burke in 1995. The Duo eventually fell out, Jay became President of Def Jam and Dame Dash sold his stake in the company to Def Jam Recordings.
With it being the 25th anniversary of Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, let’s learn more about the men who created Roc-A-Fella Records and history.
Starting with a more common name many of you have heard, Roc-A-Fella Records wouldn’t have happened without entrepreneur, Damon “Dame” Dash. In his earlier days, Dash got out of the drug-dealing life and ended up launching a mini business throwing parties and promoting clubs. Eventually, this led him to a career path towards management, in which his first client was a rap group called Future Sound. He arranged for Future Sound to sign a deal with Atlantic Records under a record executive named Rodolfo Franklin aka DJ Clark Kent.
Many would be surprised to know that Biggs was actually a huge inspiration to Jay-Z’s music and lyrics in his earlier days as a rapper. In an interview with Complex, Biggs said before they started in ’96, “I had a Range and a platinum Rolex, so then Jay would talk about that in the songs. We were drinking Cristal. By the time we shot the “Ain’t No” video, we were already trying to stop drinking it. We were drinking so much Cristal, we wanted to find a new champagne.” Not to mention, Biggs had so many connections out in St. Thomas that the “In My Lifetime,” music video was filmed there.
Biggs recalls not being sold on Jay-Z when he first met him. He told RapRadar it wasn’t until he saw Jay-Z battle DMX uptown when he really started believing in his skills. Today, if you go back and listen to many of Jay’s earlier records, you can hear him reference Biggs and Dame quite often in his lyrics. These two heavily influenced Jay-Z’s music while at the same time helped him shine in the spotlight.
In the 25 years since that album’s release, Jay Z has solidified himself as one of hip-hop’s biggest superstars, but he’s never sounded quite as hungry as he did on classic tracks like “Dead Presidents” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle”.