You never know what will come out of a ranch visit with Kanye. For Damon Dash, who bought a neighboring ranch in Cody, Wyo., with his wife Raquel Horn, it was a magazine.
“What happened was we spent some time on the ranch with Kanye and I made a magazine for him, but I don’t know when or what he’s going to do with it,” Dash says, on Zoom from his home in Los Angeles. “My wife, my girl, Raquel, she took all the pictures and I made a magazine with it. And it’s dope. But I don’t know when I’m going to see Kanye, right? So, we did our own magazine. It’s called Rocky, and…is based on my life and Rocky’s life but through her lens.”
Rocky is one of many offerings included in his new app, Damon Dash Studios, which relaunched earlier this month after an initial attempt in 2019. The magazine is just the tip of the iceberg for Dash. His app will feature a 24-hour television network, music, shoppable products, books, clothing and other content he’s developed all on his own.
“I’ve always thought about doing apps. I’ve always been developing. But the world wasn’t ready for it, so I’ve been kind of just waiting,” Dash says. “I was doing it when Netflix was still in the supermarkets. I was developing the streaming, but I thought it was important to make my own content. I didn’t want to license.”
Dash owns a studio in Burbank, Calif., where everything is shot. He owns the cameras, has editing bays onsite and controls the products start to finish.
“You see, it’s a relaunch, but the world just wasn’t ready,” Dash says. “It was like they had to see Disney doing it.”
Dash cofounded Roc-A-Fella Records with Jay Z in 1996 and has since embarked on a plethora of ventures in entertainment, fashion and business. His most recent brush with the media was in 2019 when he was accused of sexual battery, an incident he declines to comment on. The launch of his app, he says, marks a turn in lifestyle for him. He and Horn have recently welcomed a son, Dusko, Dash’s fifth child, and through Horn he’s become more interested in healthy living, education and “knowing how to love.”
“I wanted to make my business where my [children] could be around it. I could no longer be around aggressive, traumatized men from an extreme circumstance. And when I met [Raquel], she introduced me to this life of festivals and just living life. I got to basically live my 20s over with her from her perspective,” says Dash, who is somewhat hard to follow on a Zoom call but obviously passionate about whatever it is at hand.
“I came from a lot of unrecognized trauma and I don’t want to be around the jungle anymore, and she gave me that escape. She’s from Hilton Head: beachy, all into the rock ‘n’ roll, very silly, loves cartoons, all of it, but she’s down for whatever. She’s my ride or die, so she’s always very gangster. She’s been around everything that’s extreme that’s happened to me in the last 10 years,” he adds. “But I never thought I’d be a guy with four dogs and a baby at 49. You know what I’m saying? Going on walks with dogs and strollers every day.”
He credits Horn, who sat next to him holding Dusko for much of the Zoom chat, with making him tap into his inner creative and delve into the app’s content.
“She made me embrace the fact that I’m a creative. I direct everything. We do everything. We designed everything, and she made me address and be unapologetic about my creative dreams, when she had to be unapologetic about hers.”
A big focus on the app is health, which Dash is especially passionate about. Being a diabetic, he wanted to make sure he was offering the One Drop insulin supplies he uses, as well as things like Beyond Meat.
“It’s about what real wealth is, which is being healthy,” he says. “But we’re savvy in all of those different things. We’re a big octopus with a lot of legs.”