As stated in the previous Rocafella Dynasty post, Ain’t No Ni**a, featuring Foxy Brown was the highest charted single on Reasonable Doubt. It created a buzz for the newly created label Rocafella Records and it brandished Jay Z as a seminal force in the rap game.
“Ain’t No Ni**a” and the buzz it was creating for Rocafella Records and Jay Z, caught the attention of Def Jam Recordings. Def Jam’s interest in Jay Z was heightened after his guest appearance on The Notorious B.I.G’s Life After Death album that was released on March 25th, 1997. Jay Z was featured on the single “I Love The Dough.”
In June 1997 Def Jam and Rocafella Records agreed to a 50-50 partnership and distribution deal. With the backing of a major label Rocafella Records released Jay Z’s sophomore album In My Lifetime Vol. 1 on November 7th, 1997.
In My Lifetime fared much better commercially than Reasonable Doubt. It sold 138,000 copies its first week and went platinum in a little over a year.
BREAKTRHOUGH SUCCESS (VOL.2… HARD KNOCK LIFE)
In 1998 Rocafella Records would reach mainstream success with the release of Jay Z’s third studio album, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life. It became the label’s and Jay Z’s first album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life sold over 350,000 copies in its first week and stayed at the top spot for 5 consecutive weeks. It sold 208,00 copies its second week, 186,000 its third week and on its last week at number one it sold 174,000 copies. Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life is certified 6 X’s platinum.
Rocafella Records and Jay Z would go on to have subsequent successes. On December 28th, 1999, Vol. 3… Life And Times Of S. Carter was released and it debuted at number one as well. It sold 462,000 copies its first week and would go on to be certified 3 X’s platinum.
As Rocafella Records grew, it signed additional artists that included Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel and Amil.
However, Dame Dash began to add even more acts to the Rocafella Records rasta because of Jay Z’s constant talk of retiring. Dame Dash says that Jay Z had stated that he was going to retire after releasing one album. He did not. But the conversation of Jay Z retiring was ongoing. Jay Z went on the record a few times and stated that he was going to retire from making music after his forthcoming album release.
With this in mind, Dame Dash, as CEO of Rocafella Records began to sign more acts to the label. Dame Dash signed M.O.P. and Ol’ Dirty Bastard and gave Grafh a joint-venture deal.
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CAM’RON AND KANYE WEST
In 2002 Cam’ron launched his Rocafella Records debut album, Come Home With Me. It peaked on the Billboard 200 charts at number 2 and had first week sales of 226,000 copies. Shortly after the release of Come Home With Me Cam’ron signed his group The Diplomats to Rocafella Records as well.
Rocafella Records experienced its height in popularity and music releases during this period, with the release of State Property’s Chain Gang albums, Juelz Santana’s From Me to U, Freeway’s debut Philadelphia Freeway, The Diplomats’ group debut album Diplomatic Immunity and Memphis Bleek’s M.A.D.E.
On February 10th, 2004, Kanye West dropped his debut album, College Dropout. It debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard 200, selling 441,000 copies in its first week of release.
THE SAGA UNFOLDS
With all of the preceded success one would think that Rocafella Records would continue to be an unstoppable force in music and all of its other pursuits whether it be in music, film or fashion. Not the case.
Join us in the next post as we delve further into the unfolding of the Rocafella Records “break up.”
And as always we like to close with a saying, quote or adage and today’s is from Dame Dash: I WANT TO BE AS CREATIVE AS I WANT. I DON’T EVER WANT TO HAVE TO COMPROMISE; I DON’T EVER WANT ANYBODY EVER TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO. I DON’T EVER WANT TO ARGUE WITH SOMEBODY BECAUSE OF MY VISION.
Now, go forth and change the game!