Music mogul Damon Dash talks about life after Jay-Z, working with Kanye West and his struggle to help those with diabetes.
Legendary music mogul Damon Dash has conquered the music and fashion industry. Now, the entrepreneur is taking on his biggest endeavor to date—the healthcare industry. We caught up with Damon to chat about the launch of Dash Diabetes and his new project with Kanye West.
Tell us about your new project, Dash Diabetes Network.
DAMON DASH: Dash Diabetes Network is a network that I started that showcases the lifestyle of being a diabetic and everything that comes with it. I am diabetic who is Type 1 and have been diabetic since I was 15. I’m 46 now. All the years of being diabetic has been hard for me to get to an A1C to a seven—it’s supposed to be at a seven to be healthy and traditionally I would be at a 10. I got a new Afrezza inhalable insulin because usually you have to take it through a needle. I got my A1 to a seven—I got it to a seven relatively fast. Once my levels were under control, it was time for me to take this show on the road, to showcase my life, and try to help people based on my experiences.
Tell us about your partnership with Kanye West.
DD: Kanye is executive producer of a movie I directed called Honor Up. It’s a role reversal for both Kanye and me. Before, I was the administrative guy and he was the creative. Now, I am enjoying being the creative and being showcased from my point of view. Hopefully, Kanye and everyone that trusts Kanye’s opinion will trust his cosign because if he’s cosigning me as a director then the rest of the world should follow. I cosigned him as a producer and rapper and the rest of the world followed. I appreciate that and that was the purpose of making the people I work with powerful—to help me—just like I helped them.
What is one surprising thing about working with Kanye?
DD: I’ve already worked with Kanye so there wasn’t anything really surprising that the world doesn’t already know. He projects who he is and he wears everything on his sleeve. You know who he is, I know who he is—I wasn’t surprised at all. One of the more surprising things is that he said “yes.” I didn’t know he would be cool like that so that was surprising—he looks out for his people when most people would think he doesn’t.
How has life been after working with Jay-Z?
DD: Life’s been great. Jay-Z has done a great job of keeping my name out there by going outside every day and making sure he’s seen and he’s evolved.
The good thing about putting someone in business such as him or Kanye or Kevin Hart or Lee Daniels is the more successful they are the better it makes me look. They made it where I can relax and focus on me. Those guys are my ambassadors of my work and what I do. They made me a brand by becoming successful. It’s made it easy for me. It’s made it where I don’t have to run around and chase behind people.
I’ve been able to open art galleries around the world—Tribeca, Lower East Side, Charleston, and Hong Kong. I’ve been able to work not only on rap music but on rock n’ roll like the black rock with the Black Keys, and Most Def and RZA.
Where is your favorite spot in NYC to eat and drink?
DD: The Clement Street Bakery. They don’t take credit cards or reservations and they don’t advertise. Regardless what day you go there is always a two-hour wait. We woke up, signed our name to the wait list, walked the dog, got dressed, came back, and it was so worth it. At the time, I was eating chicken. If I would go there, I would bring my own chicken and tell them to chef that up.
Photography by: Photography courtesy Damon Dash