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
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 Beastiemania.com interviewed
him in 2003, Parsons said the following, "
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 Beastiemania.com. "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 Beastiemania.com 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
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.