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Dash to solo success for hip hop mogul

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(CNN) -- From designer clothes, diamond-encrusted watches and high-end vodka, Damon Dash has a diverse portfolio of businesses.

Now trying to establish himself as an independent force following a high-profile split from partner Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Dash had aspirations to be a "hustler" from an early age.

Growing up in what he once described as the best building in a bad neighborhood in Harlem, New York, he swept barbershop floors and hawked newspapers to get enough money to buy the latest sneakers and shirts.

He says he learnt to hustle from his mother, who died of an asthma attack when he was just 15. A secretary, she also sold clothes on the side out of their apartment. Dash, who went to private schools after winning scholarships, watched her and learnt.

In 1992, his friend Clark Kent introduced him to a young rapper from Brooklyn named Jay-Z. The two hit it off, and together with silent partner Kareem "Biggs" Burke, they launched Roc-A-Fella Records in 1996.

With Jay-Z's first album, "Reasonable Doubt," quickly selling a million copies, the Jay-Z and Dash empire was well on its way to global success.

But in 2004, Def Jam Records bought the Roc-A-Fella label and made Jay-Z its new president. The changes led to a very public split between Dash and his former partner.

A year later, Jay-Z acquired Dash's stake in Rocawear, the clothing label the pair created a decade ago.

Even without Jay-Z in tow, Dash's burgeoning empire goes well beyond music. He dabbles in films, fashion, boxing, publishing and even alcohol.

He is estimated to be worth $50 million dollars and he told CNN his goal is to eventually have a billion dollars behind him.

He has recently launched a campaign to advertise his stable of brands.

Critics say he is a jack of all trades, master of none, and Dash himself admits now is crunch time to prove his diverse empire is worth its weight.

His talent for making money has also translated into a talent for spending it.

Dash's Los Angeles home is a sprawling 650 square-meter pad, complete with fountains, giant plasma screen TVs and plenty of room to relax.

His primary residence is in the Tribeca district in New York, where he lives with his fashion designer wife Rachel Roy and children. He was engaged to the R&B singer Aaliyah Houghton when she died in a plane crash in 2001.

Dash and Roy have one daughter, six-year-old Ava. Dash also has two sons, Damon Jr. or "Boogie," who is in his teens and a toddler, Lucky, each from separate relationships.

Dash has a self-confessed addiction to new clothing and sneakers. A diabetic, Dash rarely travels without his personal chef, who prepares his lunch and dinner. He also has a chauffeur-driven luxury car, worth more than half a million dollars.

As he prepares to launch a new sportswear clothing brand for men called CEO, Dash seems determined not to stop until he proves his savvy and tenacity to the hip hop world, and beyond.

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Dash, now 35, has two sons and a daughter and lives in New York.

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