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Dante Ross

Dante Ross


mass appeal


Although Dante Ross never worked on a Beastie Boys album, he was part of the New York music scene back in the early 1980s working at the Ratcage, then moving on to Def Jam, before making his impact felt on with Tommy Boy Records. Dante's rise from office messenger at Def Jam to an A&R, Artists and Repertoire, man at Tommy Boy was just the beginning. Today he remains a powerhouse in the music industry having either signed and/or worked with several of our favorite hip hop artists: De La Soul, Brand Nubian, Digital Underground, and Old Dirty Bastard.

A fellow by the name of Oliver Wang put together what is considered to be the definitive interview/work regarding Dante Ross for the magazine Wax Poetics. In that interview Mr. Wang asked Dante a few questions about his interactions with the Beastie Boys. Dante responded by saying, "I met them when I was a little older. When I was in high school, I was a skater and I worked at the skateboard store called Ratcage and they used to hang out there sometimes. I had a love-hate relationship with them in my youth. I definitely had love for them as people, but there was also some mutual condescension going back and forth, a lot of sarcasm. The late Dave Parsons also recalled this period. When interviewed him in 2003, Parsons said the following, "…after closing the Ratcage store in the spring of 1984, I began selling skateboard decks at CBGB along with the records. One day John Berry, Dante, Hillary, T and I went down to the Brooklyn Bridge to skate the brick park ramp…"

Could it be? Yet another John Berry tie in- yes indeed. In that same Wax Poetics interview Dante said the following: "I used to play drums in another band with my man John Berry called Nosebleed, and we had a total amount of zero gigs ever. We'd play the same blues kind of tunes over and over again - really grungy blues songs with no chord changes or the same chord changes for like an hour. We were horrible, but we enjoyed it so I guess from there I decided, hey, music is pretty fun." John Berry was not the only Beastie Boys member Dante created music with. "I actually learned how to drum program a little bit. I remember Adrock showing me the 808 and 909 and the old school SP-12, the one with the huge disk drive. I used to go over and fuck around with Sam Sever; he'd show me how to use the sequences back then."

Bosco, another band mate of John Berry's, both played in Big Fat Love, said the following about Dante Ross in July 2002 interview with "Dante is an important piece to the Beastie Boys puzzle, although you probably won't get many people to concede this fact. He is not well liked by many for one reason or another. He was there hanging out. He was there the night they met Russell and hung out at the infamous 'Fever' uptown. Dante was a B-Boy and could skate. He even wrote a little bit of graffiti. He was from Brooklyn, also like Yauch and me. He was good friends with John (Berry), Mike (Diamond), and AH (Adam Horovitz) as well as Dave Parsons, Daryl Jenifer, and myself… plus lots of others. I think Dante is great in his own way. He understood hip hop early on. He was Lyor Cohen's assistant, replacing Sean "the Captain" Carasov, and actually stealing the job from me. But, I didn't really want it. I think his most admirable accomplishment is being caricatured as the duck in the artwork to the first De La Soul album. They also mention him in a song saying Dante is a scrub."

Bosco was not the only person to cite that lyric. When inquired about what Adam Trese, of the Young and the Useless, remembered about Dante Ross, he jokingly said, "As far as he goes, on the first De La Soul album there is a lyric "Dante is a scrub." He stole my sunglasses when I was 12. I bought them because they looked just like Daryl Jenifer's from the Bad Brains. Whenever I see him, I still tell him he owes me five bucks!" Coming up with five dollars, shouldn't be a problem for Dante who scored big with the 1998 Everlast album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. In the twenty-first century Dante started his own label Stimulated Records, plus he's been a contributing editor to Mass Appeal Magazine with whom he has a column called "OG Status." His label provided him with the opportunity to put out material by both established and undeveloped recording artists. Always a down to earth guy, Dante has been known to make the occasional message board post, as well as on his label's message board. So, if you see his name pop up either place show some respect and leave the name calling to De La Soul.

Henry Rollins Rick Rubin