Hippie Meets Hip-Hop in the 2K10 Factory of Damon Dash


The New York Observer: always good for the juicy, perhaps tongue-in-cheek profile story. This week’s man-on-the-scene involves producer and Roc-a-Fella co-founder Damon Dash, who has fallen of late from his gilded throne. The rap impresario’s newest production is a Tribeca warehouse dubbed DD172, usually a “sprawling art gallery; at other times, it’s a photo studio, or an indie band’s rehearsal space.” Friend and visitor Mos Def compares the space to the Algonquin round table, early Hitsville, and Andy Warhol’s Factory, a reference not overlooked by writer David Levine. After the jump, we break down the personalities and take a look back at the many faces of Damon Dash.

Damon Dash vehicle Blakroc, featuring The Black Keys with special guests Mos Def, Q-Tip, Raekwon, RZA, Jim Jones, Billy Danze of MOP, and Pharoahe Monch. The new Velvet Underground?

McKenzie Eddy (sprawled, bottom right), Dash’s assistant, New York City transplant by way of South Carolina, and ephemeral beauty about town. The new Edie Sedgwick?

Nyssa Frank, DD172’s gallery curator, mural painter, and “Cyndi Lauper look-alike.” The new, um, Cyndi Lauper?

Levine’s article delves into Dash’s new experiment in godfatherdom:

This mix of people and crafts is part of Mr. Dash’s shot at reinvention, and, he hopes, even financial redemption. “I’m a pretentious hippie,” he told me on more than one occasion. “This is what I should be doing. … Regardless of how I got here, I’m exactly where I want to be.” Mr. Dash said that in his days of Rocawear, Cristal and yachts, he was “compromising my brand.”

That could be the reason he’s doing all this now, and there’s probably truth to it. But what Mr. Dash has succeeded in creating here at 172 Duane Street is, above all else, his own hermetic world—far from the world that’s shunned him.

Hmmm… we don’t know if moving to former partner Jay-Z’s neighborhood counts as going off the cultural grid, but, you know.

And to summarize, a look back at various Damon Dash personae:

Crunk Damon Dash, Ralph Lauren Damon Dash

Big Pimpin’ Damon Dash

Business Impresario Damon Dash, Soulful Damon Dash

Do you believe the hype of DD172? Or is The Factory allusion played out?