|Def Jam Recordings|
|Parent company||Universal Music Group|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Official website|| defjam|
Def Jam Recordings is an American record label focused predominantly on hip hop and urban music, owned by Universal Music Group. In the UK, the label takes on the name Def Jam UK and is operated through Virgin EMI Records, while in Japan, it is known as Def Jam Japan, operating through Universal Music Japan. The label distributes releases of various record labels, including Kanye West's GOOD Music,and Listen Up Forever Records, headed by producer, Ronny J. Current artists include Justin Bieber, Logic, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz, Teyana Taylor, YG, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Q-Tip, Valee, Pusha T, Vince Staples, Fabolous, Desiigner and Jhené Aiko.
A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a music genre developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records, and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.
Urban contemporary, also known as urban pop, or just simply urban, is a music radio format. The term was coined by New York radio DJ Frankie Crocker in the early to mid-1970s. Urban contemporary radio stations feature a playlist made up entirely of genres such as R&B, pop-rap, British R&B, quiet storm, adult contemporary, hip hop, Latin music such as Latin pops, Chicano R&B, Chicano rap, and Caribbean music such as reggae. Urban contemporary was developed through the characteristics of genres such as R&B and soul. Largely a US phenomenon, virtually all urban contemporary formatted radio stations in the United States are located in cities that have sizeable African-American populations, such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Memphis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles, Flint, Baltimore, Boston, Birmingham, and Jackson. Urban contemporary music is also very popular in France and the United Kingdom.
Def Jam was co-founded by Rick Rubin in his dormitory in Weinstein Hall at New York Universityand its first release was a single by his punk-rock group Hose. Russell Simmons joined Rubin shortly after they were introduced to each other, according to one story, by Vincent Gallo. Another cites DJ Jazzy Jay as their connector. Rubin has said he met Simmons on the TV show Graffiti Rock and recognized him then as "the face of hip hop": "He was five years older than me, and he was already established in the music business. And I had no experience whatsoever." The first single released with the Def Jam Recordings logo was T La Rock & Jazzy Jay's "It's Yours." The first releases with Def Jam Recordings catalog numbers were LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat" and the Beastie Boys' "Rock Hard," both in 1984. The singles sold well, eventually leading to a distribution deal with CBS Records through Columbia Records the following year.
Frederick Jay Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and also established American Recordings. With the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, and Run-DMC, Rubin helped popularize hip hop music.
New York University (NYU) is a private research university originally founded in New York City but now with campuses and locations throughout the world. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, New York City. As a global university, students can graduate from its degree-granting campuses in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, as well as study at its 12 academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.
Hose is an "artcore" and garage punk band from the 1980s founded by producer and Def Jam creator Rick Rubin. Hose's 12-inch EP was the first recording released with the Def Jam logo.
This created a short-lived subsidiary label called OBR Records, short for Original Black Recordings, which catered toward R&B artists—the first artist signed to that imprint was Oran "Juice" Jones, who enjoyed success with his hit single "The Rain". A few years later, Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen started an umbrella label called Rush Associated Labels to handle Def Jam and its numerous spinoff labels. RAL became the home to Nice & Smooth and EPMD after both acts were acquired due to the folding of their former label Sleeping Bag Records.Other acts under the RAL umbrella included Redman, Onyx, Flatlinerz, Domino, Warren G and Jayo Felony. Def Jam also signed its first and only thrash metal band, Slayer, in 1986, and the band's third and fourth albums were the only two Def Jam releases to be distributed through Geffen Records under Warner Bros. Records as opposed to Columbia/CBS. As the decade drew to a close, the label signed Public Enemy, whose controversial lyrical content garnered the company both critical acclaim and disdain. Lyor Cohen became president of Def Jam/RAL in 1988, after winning a power struggle with Rubin, who would shortly thereafter leave the company to form Def American Recordings. Rubin would take Slayer with him to Def American in its initial stages.
Oran "Juice" Jones is a retired American R&B singer.
"The Rain" is a 1986 crossover hit single originally performed by R&B singer Oran "Juice" Jones, which he released on and from his debut album Juice.
Nice & Smooth is an East Coast hip hop duo from New York City that consists of Greg "Greg Nice" Mays and Daryl "Smooth B" Barnes, plus their deejay Tedd "DJ Teddy Tedd" Whiting. The duo released four albums between 1989 and 1997. Their first collaborative appearance was on the single "Dope on a Rope"/"Skill Trade" on Strange Family Records in 1987. On the strength of that underground single they managed a guest spot on the song "Pimpin Ain't Easy" by Big Daddy Kane on his 1989 album It's a Big Daddy Thing.
By 1992, despite recent multi-platinum selling releases from Public Enemy, and EPMD, Def Jam ran into severe financial troubles and was faced with folding. However, in 1994, PolyGram purchased Sony's 50% stake in Def Jam Recordings—subsequently bringing the label into its fold. Following PolyGram's purchase, Def Jam distributed the Violator Records-signed artist Warren G's Regulate... G Funk Era album, which went triple platinum and brought much-needed revenue to Def Jam through its distribution deal with Violator.
EPMD is an American hip hop duo from Brentwood, New York. The duo's name is a concatenation of the members' names "E" and "PMD" or an acronym for "Erick and Parrish Making Dollars", referencing its members: emcees Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith. During an interview on college radio station WHOV in 1987, Parrish Smith stated that the name evolved from the original: "We were originally known as "EEPMD", but chose to go with EPMD because it was easier to say." He also stated that they dropped the two "E's" because N.W.A.'s Eric Wright was already using "Eazy-E" as his stage name. The group has been active for 33 years, and is one of the most prominent acts in east coast hip hop. DJ K La Boss and DJ Scratch were DJs for the group and their current DJ is DJ Diamond J
PolyGram was a Dutch entertainment company and major music record label. It was founded in 1962 as the Grammophon-Philips Group by Dutch Philips and German Siemens, to be a holding for their record companies, and was renamed "Polygram" in 1972. The name was chosen to reflect the Siemens interest Polydor Records and the Philips interest Phonogram Records. The company traced its origins through Deutsche Grammophon back to the inventor of the flat disk gramophone, Emil Berliner.
Warren Griffin III, known by his stage name Warren G, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer and DJ, known as one of the pioneers of West Coast hip hop. Griffin's career began in the early 1990s as part of the California hip-hop trio 213 alongside Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg, but he is best known for his work as a solo artist, most notably for his hit single "Regulate" featuring Nate Dogg, as well as his first two studio albums, Take a Look Over Your Shoulder and Regulate...G Funk Era, which are certified gold and triple platinum respectively by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
PolyGram acquired an additional 10% in Def Jam Recordings in 1996, further strengthening its ownership of Def Jam. Shortly thereafter, Rush Associated Labels was renamed Def Jam Music Group. The label remained profitable as its veteran star LL Cool J released his successful album Mr. Smith in 1995. The label later signed Foxy Brown, whose debut album Ill Na Na became a platinum seller in 1997.
Mr. Smith is the sixth studio album by American hip hop recording artist LL Cool J, released on November 21, 1995 by Def Jam. The album has been certified Double Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Inga Fung Marchand, known professionally as Foxy Brown, is an American rapper, model, and actress. She is best known for her solo work, as well as numerous collaborations with other artists and her brief stint as part of hip hop group The Firm. Brown was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where her father, Winston Marchand abandoned the family at a young age to pursue his career at ERAC records. Her albums include Ill Na Na in 1996, followed by Chyna Doll in 1999 and Grammy-nominated Broken Silence in 2001. She also performed on the 1997 debut album by the Firm, the only album to be released by that group to date. She has held an extensive arrest record and served some time in jail.
Ill Na Na is the debut studio album by American rapper Foxy Brown, released on November 19, 1996 by Def Jam Recordings. It was reissued on September 29, 1997 in the United Kingdom with an addition of the song "Big Bad Mamma". Brown began working on the album after being discovered by the production team Trackmasters and appearing on a number of singles by other artists, such as LL Cool J, Case and Jay Z. The immediate success of the singles led to a bidding war at the beginning of 1996, and in March, Def Jam Recordings won and signed the then 17-year-old rapper to the label. Mostly produced by Trackmasters, Ill Na Na features guest appearances from Blackstreet, Havoc, Method Man, Kid Capri and Jay Z. Lyrically, the album mainly focuses on themes of fashion, sex and mafia.
In 1998, PolyGram was purchased by Seagram and merged with the MCA family of labels, which became Universal Music Group. It then purchased the remaining interest of Def Jam Recordings from Russell Simmons for a reported $100 million. UMG merged 14+ record labels including: Def Jam, Island Records and Mercury Records to form The Island Def Jam Music Group. Despite the formation of IDJMG, the Def Jam, Mercury, and Island labels continued to operate as separate imprints underneath the bigger umbrella.
Seagram Company Ltd. was a Canadian multinational conglomerate formerly headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. Originally a distiller of Canadian whisky based in Waterloo, Ontario, it was once the largest owner of alcoholic beverage lines in the world.
Universal Music Group is an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Vivendi. UMG's global corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California. It is considered one of the "Big Three" music companies, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group. Since 2004, the corporation is no longer related to the film studio Universal Studios. In 2019, Fast Company named Universal Music Group the most innovative music company and listed UMG among the Top 50 most innovative companies in the world and "amid the music industry's digital transformation, Universal is redefining what a modern label should look like." UMG has signed licensing agreements with more than 400 platforms worldwide.
Island Records is a record label owned by Universal Music Group. It was founded in 1959 by Chris Blackwell, Graeme Goodall, and Leslie Kong in Jamaica, and was eventually sold to PolyGram in 1989. Island and A&M Records, another label recently acquired by PolyGram, were both at the time the largest independent record labels in history, with Island in particular having exerted a major influence on the progressive music scene in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s.
Lyor Cohen was appointed co-president of IDJMG, and Kevin Liles succeeded him as president of Def Jam. In 1999, IDJMG created a R&B spin-off label called Def Soul Recordings to run alongside Def Jam Recordings, which inherited many of Island Records' urban artists, including Dru Hill and its lead singer Sisqó, the Isley Brothers and Kelly Price. Def Soul also issued recordings by Musiq, Montell Jordan, Case, 112, Patti LaBelle, and Christina Milian. Island's 4th & B'way Records was also folded into Def Jam. Kevin Liles also served as President of Def Soul Records.
Also in 1999, the label began to distribute releases by Murder Inc. Records, run by former Def Jam executive Irv Gotti. Murder Inc.'s roster of artists would include Ja Rule, Ashanti, Lloyd, Vita. The following year, it launched another subsidiary, Def Jam South , which focused on Southern rap and distributed releases from labels such as Disturbing tha Peace, whose artists have included Ludacris, Chingy, and Bobby Valentino. Russell Simmons tapped Texas-born and raised rap legend Scarface as the original head of Def Jam South. After about a 4-year run at Def Jam South, Scarface negotiated a release from the company in 2003.
In 2000, The Island Def Jam Music Group announced the formation of Def Jam Germany, the first international Def Jam company. This increased the label's presence around the world. Def Jam Germany signed German rappers Spezializtz and Philly MC. The label was located in Berlin and opened on May 23, 2000. In addition to signing and marketing local artists, Def Jam Germany also marketed all U.S. signed Def Jam artists in the German territory. But the German division folded just two years later in 2002. Many of the artists were picked up by Universal/Urban, while others did not get a new contract.
The second international label is a Japanese branch, Def Jam Japan(デフ・ジャム・ジャパンDefu Jamu Japan), also founded in 2000. Their artist roster has included AI, Teriyaki Boyz, Nitro Microphone Underground, and South Korean boy band BTS.
In 2003, Murder Inc. became the center of a money laundering investigation involving illegal profits from drug trade,leading to the label's eventual release from its distribution contract by 2005. The final shares of Roc-A-Fella Records were sold to The Island Def Jam Music Group in 2004, by which time it had launched the career of producer-turned-rapper Kanye West.
In 2004, Cohen left IDJMG for Warner Music Group, and was replaced by former Arista and later Epic executive L.A. Reid. An unhappy Liles eventually decided to follow Cohen to Warner.A bidding war for Jay-Z's contract began, and Reid appointed Jay-Z president of Def Jam.
Under Jay-Z's leadership, Def Jam launched the successful careers of contemporary R&B singers Rihanna and Ne-Yo. At the end of 2007, Jay-Z decided not to renew his contract as the President and CEO of Def Jam in order to start his new venture, Roc Nation.Following Jay-Z's departure, L.A. Reid took over leadership of the label, as opposed to hiring a replacement. In June 2008, Shakir Stewart was appointed as Executive Vice President of Def Jam, a position that was previously left vacant since December 2007.
In March 2012, it was announced that former Warner Bros. Records executive Joie Manda would become the first president of Def Jam since Jay-Z.Until March 2013 when he exited his post at Def Jam and it was announced he'd be heading up the urban division of Interscope Records by his former boss, Barry Weiss. The-Dream served as Def Jam's executive vice president of A&R at Def Jam between 2012 and 2014. No I.D. held the position of executive vice president after helping to establish GOOD Music with Kanye West. No I.D. is now the executive vice president of Capitol Music Group.
On April 1, 2014, it was announced that Island Def Jam would no longer be active following the resignation of CEO Barry Weiss. A press release serviced by Universal Music Group stated that IDJMG, and all of its assets would be reorganized into Def Jam Recordings, Island Records and Motown Records, all as separate entities.
Def Jam Recordings operates as a stand-alone label within Universal Music Group. Def Jam signed Dani Leigh to the label in early 2017. Steve Bartels served a time as President/CEO of Def Jam Recording until it was announced on August 3, 2017 that as of January 2018, Eminem's longtime manager and co-founder of Shady Records, Paul Rosenberg has been appointed Chairman/CEO of Def Jam Recordings.
American Recordings is an American record label headed by producer Rick Rubin. The label has featured artists such as Slayer, the Black Crowes, ZZ Top, Danzig, Trouble, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, The Mother Hips, and System of a Down.
Epic Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, Inc., the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. The label was founded predominantly as a jazz and classical music label in 1953, but later expanded its scope to include a more diverse range of genres, including pop, R&B, rock, and hip hop. Epic Records has released music by artists including Glenn Miller, Tammy Wynette, George Michael, The Yardbirds, Donovan, Shakin Stevens, Europe, Cheap Trick, Meat Loaf, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ted Nugent, Shakira, Sly & the Family Stone, The Hollies, Celine Dion, ABBA, Culture Club, Boston, Dave Clark Five, Gloria Estefan, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and Michael Jackson. Along with Arista, Columbia and RCA Records, Epic is one of Sony Music Entertainment's four flagship record labels.
Mercury Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. In the United States, it operates through Island Records; in the UK, it is distributed by Virgin EMI Records.
Roc-A-Fella Records was an American record label founded by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Damon "Dame" Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke in 1995. It was operated as a division of Def Jam Recordings.
The Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG) was an American record label group formed in 1998 by combining the operations of 14+ record labels including Island Records, Def Jam Recordings, and Mercury Records. In 2011, Motown Records was split from The Universal/Motown Records Group and subsequently became a division of The Island Def Jam Music Group. On April 1, 2014, Universal Music announced that Island Def Jam's operations would be split between three entities: Island Records, Motown Records, and Def Jam Recordings.
Republic Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group (UMG). It was founded by Avery Lipman and Monte Lipman as an independent label in 1995, and was acquired by UMG in 2000. Republic was initially an imprint of the Universal/Motown Records Group, and was renamed Universal Republic Records after a reorganization in 2006 before reverting to its original name in 2012.
Def Jam South Recordings is the southern division of Def Jam Recordings. The label is best known for launching the career of Ludacris and his Disturbing tha Peace group and label. In 2003, the label shut down but was relaunched in 2005. They have also jump-started the career of Young Jeezy.
Full Surface is a record label founded in 2001, by American hip hop recording artist and record producer Kasseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean. With the help of his protégé, Cassidy, who was the 1st artist signed, the label was established. The label used to operate through Sony's J and through Universal's Interscope, Motown and Universal Motown. However, the label also had released material through joint ventures with other companies outside the Sony BMG group. It operates as a subsidiary of Warner and is distributed by Atlantic.
GOOD Music is an American record label founded by rapper Kanye West in 2004. In 2015, Pusha T was appointed the president of the label by West.
Ernest Dion Wilson, professionally known as No I.D., formerly Immenslope, is an American hip hop and R&B music producer from Chicago, Illinois. Wilson is also a disc jockey (DJ), music arranger and rapper, having released an album in 1997, titled Accept Your Own and Be Yourself , under Relativity Records. He is perhaps best known for his early work with Chicago-based rapper Common. He has since become a heavily sought-out and high-profile producer, producing hit singles such as "Smile" by G-Unit, "Outta My System" and "Let Me Hold You" by Bow Wow, "Heartless" by Kanye West, "D.O.A." by Jay-Z and "My Last" by Big Sean and Chris Brown.
Lyor Cohen is an American music industry executive. Cohen has been actively involved in hip hop at various record labels for more than 30 years. He started by managing rappers for Rush Productions, then led Def Jam. After Def Jam, Cohen took on a leadership role at Warner Music Group. In September 2012, Cohen put in his resignation at Warner and started his own independent label, 300 Entertainment. On September 28, 2016, Cohen was named YouTube's Global Head of Music.
Krush Groove is a 1985 American film by Warner Bros. that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz. This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons, portrayed by Blair Underwood in his feature film debut. Simmons was the film's co-producer and story consultant; he also had a cameo in the film as a club owner named Crocket.
Tyrone Taylor, better known by his stage name Sonny Seeza who was previously known as both Suavé and Sonsee, is an American hardcore rapper, record producer, DJ, actor, best known as a member of multi-platinum hardcore rap group Onyx.
JMJ Records is an American record label which was founded in 1989 by Jason Mizell, better known as Jam Master Jay from Run-D.M.C.. The label released such artists as The Afros, Fam-Lee, Onyx, Jayo Felony, Suga and 50 Cent. The label folded in 2002 after the murder of its founder. For 13 years of its existence, JMJ Records has released 6 studio albums and about 25 singles. JMJ Records is currently run by Jam Master J'Son, the oldest son of the legendary Jam Master Jay.
List of albums released or distributed by Def Jam Recordings.
We the Best Music Group is a record label founded by DJ Khaled. Previously We The Best operated as an imprint of IDJMG's division Def Jam South, and afterward as an imprint of the Universal Records division Cash Money Records. As of November 2018, We The Best Music Group operates as an imprint of Epic Records. Current artists signed to We the Best include Khaled, Mavado, Steph Lecor, Kent Jones, and Vado among others.
Tuff City Records is a New York-based record label founded by journalist Aaron Fuchs in 1981. Initially concentrating on hip hop music, the label's roster expanded to include doo-wop, dancehall, and hip hop-jazz fusion, and releases included reissues of music from as far back as the 1940s.
Cydel Charles Young, better known by his stage name CyHi the Prynce, is an American rapper, singer and songwriter from Stone Mountain, Georgia. In 2009, Young signed his first major-label contract with Konvict Muzik, with the backing of Def Jam Recordings. In 2010, he signed with Kanye West's GOOD Music label imprint. Young went on to appear on West's highly acclaimed album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) and has released nine mixtapes, with the latest being BHP II: NAACP (2015), a conscious hip hop concept mixtape about the history of black people in America and the sequel to Black Hystori Project, released in February 2014. He was released from his Def Jam contract in August 2015. In November 2017, he released his debut album, No Dope on Sundays, under GOOD Music and Sony Music, following years of label disputes and series of mixtapes spanning his career.
Joie Manda is an American music executive who is the current executive vice president of Interscope Records. He previously held executive positions at Def Jam Recordings, Warner Bros. Records, and Asylum Records. Since 2004, Manda has worked with a variety of hip hop and R&B artists, including Gucci Mane, Jill Scott, Juice Wrld, J. Cole, Ella Mai, and numerous others.