Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.


Jay-Z sues to protect his second-hand name. Ridiculous

Around the mid ’90s when Jay-Z decided to start a label to put his records out on, he came up with a really stupid name. Roc-A-Fella. Geddit? Rock a dude with his music? Rock a fellow?

Roc-A-Fella y'all!

That was the clever part but the name was a double entendre, the second part being from the Rockefellers. One of New York’s most entrepreneurial and wealthiest families. Something of a dynasty. I get that part too. I mean these are all things he and his business partners aspired to. What better way to pay them homage?

Except, I believe it was dumb simply because the family still exists. Maybe not with the great patriarch of old but an actual family and corporation that still operates and uses the name Rockefeller.

I guess Jay and Co would have said something like “Well it’s spelt different! We’ve spelt it hood so there’s no conflict there. They’re corporate and we’re hood. That’s what we’re about.”

Anyway Jay, Dame and Biggs brushed all this aside; did their thing; put out great music and actually made a name for Roc-A-Fella in very admirable ways. Some of them corporate, but that’s by-the-by. I can imagine them saying something like “We’re hustling, so anyway we can get it, we get it!”

Fast forward to 2010 and Jay-Z now thinks that no one should do business with any name sounding like Rock A Fella. Case in point a restaurant called Rockafella, located in Newcastle, England. The guy who owns it was recently sued for using that name. Not by David Rockefeller Sr, but Roc-A-Fella as in records. It’s one thing appropriating someone else’s name, but suing others who use a similar name as if it was your own? Ridiculous.


Rockafella restaurant. Part of the Roc-A-Fella Records Group

I know there are issues in all the music genres to do with naming, and that’s understandable. There are only so many names to go round. Freeway and Rick Ross had to take names from the same person due to the shortage. In Reggae Dancehall, which of course has a symbiotic relationship with Hip-Hop, we’re starting to hear names like Busy Signal and Voicemail. Make no mistake people, the name shortage is real. The Killers named themselves after a fake band depicted in the music video of another band. You couldn’t make it up!

The shortage is leading some to speculate that Roc-A-Fella are launching a trading market for band names. Sort of like buying and selling domain names. The premise is that if it’s good and catchy, its worth more. So you register someone else’s name as your own and 20 years down the line or more likely when your band flops, you can just trade it in. Brilliant.

However all this still doesn’t excuse Jay-Z suing that poor restaurant. Does he not realise the name is spelt different? It’s Rockafella with a K. Plus there are no Dashes. Geddit?