Atlanta breeds its fair share of music milestones – chart-topping trap boys, dance innovators, crunk divas, trendsetting teens who finger-snap, “twerk,” and “swag surf” their way into the pop culture mainstream. And then there’s Roscoe Dash, an ATL native son poised to carve a movement of his own. The rapper made major noise in ’09 with the party-starting radio smash “All The Way Turnt Up!” featuring Soulja Boy. Now, with the impending release of his July 20, 2010 debut Ready Set Go!, Dash will soon write his own page in history.
Born Jeffrey Johnson, Jr., Dash grew up in Atlanta’s Capitol Homes projects under the watchful eye of his mother and great-grandmother. The baby of the family (he has an older brother, two half-sisters and two step-brothers), Dash was an inquisitive and bright child who learned about Hip-Hop from his older brother Erik.
“My brother used to make beats in the basement,” says Dash. “When he’d leave the house, I’d steal the beats off of his computer and record them on a karaoke machine.”
Dash began writing raps at 12 years old. By high school, he’d taken on the name “ATL” as part of a four-man rap group called the Blackout Boys. In 2006, the group (which included Dash’s brother) released a mixtape, Recognition, which generated significant buzz around Mill Creek High School. The following year, the already popular Dash – a basketball-playing heartthrob – released a solo mixtape entitled My Turn, further boosting his high school profile. However, the aspiring emcee didn’t begin to take his music career seriously until he became a father at the age of 16.
“When my daughter was born, my life suddenly had a purpose,” says Dash. “It wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about spending time with her and making sure I could provide her with a great life.”
Dash continued to record songs in his basement and distribute them at school and at parties. His networking efforts led him to his cousin Torrey “YT” Hood, an investor in the Stone Mountain-based trio Travis Porter. Dash became cool with the group and hung out with them from time to time. One day, in a car on the way to a club in 2009, Dash let YT and Travis Porter member Strap hear a song he’d just recorded entitled “All The Way Turnt Up!”
“I’d written all three verses on the song plus the hook,” explains Dash. “And I purchased the beat from producer Vibe Beats off of Soundclick.com.”
Strap listened to the song and immediately wanted to get on it. Because Travis Porter had an established local name, Dash figured it would help his cause if he incorporated the group into the song. Clearing two verses off of the track – the first verse, hook and intro remained – Dash handed the song over to Travis Porter. It sat on the group’s hard drive for several weeks, until T.P.’s manager, Charlie Jabaley, stumbled upon it while putting together their mixtape I’m a Differenter 2.
“Charlie called me and said he liked the song and was interested in signing me to their label, Porterhouse Records,” says Dash. “We started the process of lawyers and paperwork and everything.”
While Dash negotiated joining the Porterhouse fold, Travis Porter released the I’m A Differenter 2 mixtape on August 1, 2009 with “All The Way Turnt Up!” credited as “Travis Porter featuring YT and ATL,” giving the impression that Dash, still rapping under the moniker “ATL,” was merely a guest on the song. This idea spread fast, due to the success of the mixtape – driven by “All The Way Turnt Up!,” no doubt – and the subsequent heavy rotation of the single at radio.
Travis Porter began performing the song on the road, sometimes with Dash, many times without. Internal conflicts ensued and Dash soon realized that he needed to establish his own situation outside of T.P.
Changing his name to “Roscoe Dash” after Google-ing the names of old comic book superheroes, he linked up with local party promoter and entrepreneur L.A. Da Boomman in the fall of 2009. “When I heard his story and then listened to his music,” says L.A., “I knew I could help him get the spotlight he deserved.”
Signing Dash to his MMI (Making Moves Inc) production company, L.A. advised him to re-record “All The Way Turnt Up!” and add multi-platinum rapper Soulja Boy to the song, which he did. Then L.A. introduced Dash to A&R veteran Anthony “TA” Tate, CEO of Music Line Group and the man behind the careers of hit acts Ciara and J. Holiday. “Roscoe is the true definition of an artist,” says TA, who signed Dash to his record label, Music Line. “He can really write. He can relate to the streets, make love songs and sell rock music…he’s a global artist. If you were to morph what Soulja Boy is doing with what Nelly did and fast-forward to 2020, you’d get Roscoe.” TA subsequently brought producer-extraordinaire Polow Da Don and his Zone 4 imprint to the table and by January 2010, Dash had a music industry dream team in his corner: MMI/Musicline/Zone4/Interscope.
Faced with high expectations and aggressive goals, Dash is currently moving forward with his major label project, Ready Set Go! A healthy balance of hip-hop, pop, and R&B rhythms, the album is designed to showcase the numerous layers of Dash’s talent. The album’s second single, “Show Out” (produced by K.E.) is a flashy, soon-to-be club anthem with an infectious sing-songy hook. Additional album stand-outs include “I Be Shoppin,” and “Elevator Love” featuring Jazmine.
“I’m really just trying to make music that everyone can relate to,” says Dash. “Of course, I want to be different and bring a new sound.”
Roscoe Dash’s journey is just beginning and despite the past drama, setbacks and disappointments, the future superstar believes he’s exactly where he needs to be. “I wouldn’t change the way any of this happened,” he maintains. “I learned so much from it all, and it only made me even hungrier to do what it is I came to do.”
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