Where Are They Now? The Roc-A-Fella Records Edition

Diamonds are forever.

When Jay Z announced his B-Sides concert in April, it was a chance for Day One Roc-A-Fella records fanatics to relive the diamond’s glory days. For one night only, the radio-friendly hits would be swapped out for street bangers, obscure verses and deep cuts.

Unlike Murder Inc, who dominated the pop charts and pop radio in the early 2000s with their polished brand of rap power ballads, Roc found their success via the streets — formulating raw tunes with just enough melody to make the mainstream bite. Not only was the Roc Army a force in the world of music, the brand found success with films such as Backstage, Paid In Full and their Rocawear clothing line. Outside of Wu-Tang’s “W,” the Roc diamond may be the most recognizable symbol hip hop has ever seen.

But it wasn’t to last. Roc-A-Fella crumbled in 2004, largely due to an unexpected business rift between co-founders Jay Z and Dame Dash. The breakup would be an extremely public one, leaving both fans and the label’s acts to choose sides. So what are the artists of Roc-A-Fella up to now? Let’s find out.

  1. Jay Z

    The sole reason why Roc-A-Fella even exists is because of this man — literally. The label was formed as a platform to get Jay’s music heard after years of being denied by the industry. The label’s first release, Reasonable Doubt, didn’t quite turn heads at the time of it’s issue, but is now unanimously considered a classic.

    Where Is He Now?

    On top of the world.

  2. Dame Dash

    The mogul co-founded the company back in 1995 and remained the man behind the scenes. The bigger the label’s profile grew — so did Dame’s. His unapologetic demeanor and memorable video appearances turned the Harlem native into the label’s most recognizable face outside of Jay Z.

    Where Is He Now?

    Dame laid low after the Roc-A-Fella breakup but would resurface years later with DD172, an independent media collective. His DD172 art and creative space closed down in 2011, and Dash opened his Poppington art gallery one year later. In 2015, Dash collaborated with Kanye West to produce a seven-episode series called Loisaidas. Back in April, the pair ran into some legal troubles when a Bachata group of the same name sued the moguls for “tarnishing their brand.” Nevertheless, they have continued to produce the show.

  3. Kareem “Biggs” Burke

    The third piece of the Roc-A-Fella puzzle was Kareem “Biggs” Burke, who also co-founded the massive label. Burke was a silent partner in the truest sense. The Harlem native seldomly spoke on-camera and kept the flashiness to a bare minimum. In many ways, he was the complete opposite of Dame and Jay’s larger-than-life personas.

    Where Is He Now?

    Biggs fell on hard times in 2012 when he was arrested for marijuana distribution during a large drug bust. Burke was caught with 100 kilos of the drug and sentenced to five years in prison, a term that he is currently still serving. The terms of his arrest included paying a $15,000 fine and giving up his home and BMW. His long-time friend and fellow Roc-A-Fella co-founder Dame Dash said that he maintains daily communication with Burke.

  4. Kanye West

    Getty

    Before he was Yeezus, Kanye was simply an in-house Roc-A-Fella producer. ’Ye would have a hand in crafting the Roc’s signature soulful sound. Dame Dash would later sign the creative monster to the label as an artist, and the rest is pretty much history.

    Where Is He Now?

    Kanye West has transcended from Roc in-house producer to global icon. In recent years, the outspoken artist has redirected his focus from music to the world of fashion. In Febuary 2015, West debuted his first ever fashion show with new partner Adidas at New York Fashion Week. But Yeezy still has music plans in his future. The title of his seventh solo album was recently changed from So Help Me God to SWISH. It was recently announced that Kanye and uber famous wife Kim Kardashian are expecting baby #2.

  5. Memphis Bleek

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    As a teen, Bleek made his rap debut on the Reasonable Doubt track “Coming Of Age” and never looked back. As a day one member of Roc-A-Fella, the Memph Man was touted as the potential heir to Jay’s throne. Although things didn’t quite pan out that way, Bleek would go on to release gold albums and numerous street anthems.

    Where Is He Now?

    The rapper, more commonly known by his stage name “Bleek,” is still making music years after leaving the Roc-A-Fella family. Bleek released a new single called “Not The Same” in April 2015. The single was also recently released on Tidal, the music platform created by his big homie Jay Z. So while he is not as popular, Bleek is still focusing on making music and touring.

  6. Beanie Sigel

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    Hailing from South Philly, the “Broad St. Bully” was one of Roc-a-fella’s earliest signings. Sigel made the most of his time on the label — releasing three albums and two hood classics with State Property and State Property 2. Beanie also formed a collective by the same name which consisted of nothing but Philly rappers.

    Where Is He Now?

    After leaving Roc-A-Fella and Def-Jam records, Sigel almost landed a deal with G-Unit in 2009. It was around this time he burned a very big bridge by releasing a diss track against former boss, Jay Z. Following the incident, Sigel wasn’t able to stir up much fandom but continued making music on his own. In December 2014, the Philly rapper was shot outside of his house in Pleasantville, Pennsylvania but he survived the accident after surgery. Last month Sigel reunited with Jay at his “Tidal X: Jay Z B-Sides” show.

  7. Cam’ron

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    This Harlem rapper shook the game up when he hooked up with the Roc after leaving Epic Records in the early 2000s. He quickly made a name for himself on his new team after releasing hits like “Hey Ma” and “Oh Boy.” His Roc debut, Come Home With Me, would achieve platinum success. His follow-up, 2004’s Purple Haze, would be his last project on the label. Cam would later go on to diss Jay Z in 2006 with the track “You Gotta Love It“.

    Where Is He Now?

    When he’s not selling ebola masks or shower curtains with his face on it, the Harlem rapper infrequently releases new music. His last musical offering was 2014’s 1st Of The Month EP series. In late 2014 it was announced that Cam would team up with DJ A-Trak for an EP entitled Federal Reserve, but to date the project has yet to be released.

  8. Freeway

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    This Philly rapper was also a member of Beanie Sigel’s State Property crew. Freeway signed with Roc-A-Fella after working on Jay Z’s song “1-900 Hustler.” His impressive freestyle skills landed him a spot in the company and fame in the hip hop world.

    Where Is He Now?

    Freeway took a hiatus from the music industry after leaving Roc-A-Fella and focused on personal growth and religion, choosing to convert to Islam. Now, Freeway is working on a comeback album called Freewill, but he hasn’t released any information on when the album will drop, only promising fans that “it’s coming soon.”

  9. Young Gunz

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    This rap duo, consisting of Young Chris and Neef Buck, signed with Roc-A-Fella in 2002 and gained almost instant fame with their single “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” The song reached the top 20 of the Billboard charts in 2003 and was nominated for a Grammy the same year. The group kept up the hits with their next single “No Better Love,” which was featured on the Billboard 100 list in 2004.

    Where Are They Now?

    Since 2010, Young Chris has been working on a series of mixtapes called Networks, with the third seeing release in December 2014. Chris signed with Rico Love’s Division 1 label in 2010, but a solo album was never released.

    After some time away from the game, Neef returned to the mic with his Forever Do Me mixtape series. The seventh installment of the series was released in early January 2015.

  10. Peedi Crakk

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    P. Crakk joined Roc-A-Fella records in 2001 with the help of fellow rapper and friend, Freeway. The MC was known for his features on popular albums, including Jay Z’s The Blueprint: The Gift & The Curse, Freeway’s Philadelphia Freeway and The Root’s Game Theory.

    Where Is He Now?

    Peedi has given up running the streets for running a new business. The rapper is the founder of the brand Baby Face Frames, a brand of sunglasses for children. According to his Instagram, Peedi still makes music from time to time and frequently makes appearances at parties in Philly. In May 2015, the rapper was featured on a song with Haze Boogie called “On Some Shxt.”

  11. Oschino & Sparks

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    Hailing from West Philadelphia, this rap group consisted of Oschino Vasquez and Omillio Sparks. The pair were featured on a slew of popular tracks, including the full soundtrack for the movies State Property and State Property 2, in which they starred.

    Where Are They Now?

    Not long after Roc-A-Fella records split, Oschino & Sparks also called it quits as a duo. However, Sparks continues to make music, currently prepping the release of his upcloming mixtape, Memoirs of Omillio Sparks. Sparks also continued acting— he landed a recurring role in the series The Underground Kings in 2014. Oschino was released from prison last June after spending a year behind bars.

  12. Amil

    Embedded from www.youtube.com.

    As Roc-A-Fella’s first lady, Amil was front and center during the Roc’s rise to prominence. Her appearances on more than a few popular Jay Z records (including “Jigga What, Jigga Who,” “Hey Papi,” and “Can I Get A”) helped pave the way for her debut album, All Money Is Legal, in 2000.

    Where Is She Now?

    After her unceremonious departure from Roc-A-Fella, Amil went under the radar, surfacing periodically with new music. Last year she released “Remember” as an appetizer for the upcoming mixtape, A Moment In Life.