|Def Jam Recordings|
|Parent company||Universal Music Group|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location||New York City|
|Official website|| defjam|
Def Jam Recordings is an American multinational record label based in Manhattan, New York City. Def Jam has focused predominantly on hip hop, pop and urban music, owned by Universal Music Group. In the UK, the label was known as Def Jam UK and was operated through 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,No I.D.’s ARTium Recordings and Listen Up Forever Records, headed by producer, Ronny J. Current artists include Justin Bieber, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Jhené Aiko, Pusha T, Fabolous, and YK Osiris, among others.
Def Jam was co-founded by Rick Rubin in his dormitory in Weinstein Hall at New York University,and 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. However, the Hose and T La Rock releases were not part of the deal and are now controlled by different entities.
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 via 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 and the rights of its Def Jam albums with him to Def American in its initial stages.
By 1992, despite recent multiple 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.
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.[ citation needed ]
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.[ citation needed ]
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.[ citation needed ]
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 hip hop 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.[ citation needed ]
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 2011, 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 DaniLeigh 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.On February 21, 2020, Paul Rosenberg stepped down on his position as CEO of Def Jam. He will be replaced by Tunji Balogun on January 1, 2022.
On September 17, 2019, the launch of Def Jam South East Asia was announced at Music Matters, an annual music industry conference held in Singapore, where Joe Flizzow from Malaysia, Daboyway from Thailand, Yung Raja, Fariz Jabba and Alif from Singapore and A. Nayaka from Indonesia were announced as the label's six inaugural signings.
In November 2020, brothers Alec and Alex Boateng set up British label 0207 Def Jam and signed a deal with #Merky Records to release the third album by Stormzy.
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.
Irving Domingo Lorenzo Jr., better known by his stage name Irv Gotti, is an American DJ, record producer, and the CEO and co-founder of Murder Inc. He is best known for producing multiple number-one records for Ashanti, Ja Rule, and Jennifer Lopez, as well as his collaborations with Jay-Z, DMX, and Kanye West. Gotti is also the creator of the BET series Tales.
Frederick Jay "Rick" Rubin is a Jewish-American record producer and former copresident of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the cofounder 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. He also produced a number of top-selling artists from a variety of other genres including heavy metal, alternative rock, and country.
Roc-A-Fella Records was an American hip hop record label founded by rapper/entrepreneur Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Damon "Dame" Dash, and Kareem "Biggs" Burke in 1995.
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.
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.
GOOD Music is an American record label founded by rapper Kanye West in 2004. The label signed an exclusive long-term worldwide label agreement with The Island Def Jam Music Group in 2011. In 2012, the label released its debut compilation album Cruel Summer. In 2015, Pusha T was appointed the president of the label by West, while record executive Steven Victor was appointed COO.
Ernest Dion Wilson, professionally known as No I.D., is an American hip hop and R&B record 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, "My Last" by Big Sean, and “New Light” by John Mayer.
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 resigned from 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 musical comedy-drama film distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures 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.
Venni Vetti Vecci is the debut studio album by American rapper Ja Rule. It was released on June 1, 1999, by Murder Inc. and Def Jam. It was the first album to be released on Murder Inc. Production was mostly handled by Irv Gotti, with additional work provided by Lil Rob, Ty Fyffe, Erick Sermon and Self service. The album features guest appearances from Jay-Z, DMX, Case, Memphis Bleek, Black Child, Ronald Isley and Erick Sermon, among others. The album title alludes to the Latin phrase "veni, vidi, vici", meaning "I came, I saw, I conquered".
Russell Simmons Music Group or RSMG is a record label founded by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in a joint venture with Universal Music's Island Def Jam Music Group. Its president is Austin, Tony.
Paul D. Rosenberg is an American music manager, current CEO of Goliath Records and former President of Def Jam Recordings, best known for his association with hip hop artist Eminem. He is also known for his associations with The Knux, DJ AM, Action Bronson, and pop punk band Blink-182.
Terrence "Terry" Ronnie Keaton known by the stage name T La Rock, is an American old-school emcee best known for his collaboration with Def Jam Recordings co-founder Rick Rubin and the 1984 single "It's Yours."
Malik Yusef El Shabazz Jones is an American spoken word poet, rapper, writer, actor and producer based in Chicago, Illinois, United States.
This article summarizes the events, album releases, and album release dates in hip hop music for the year 2008.
Cydel Charles Young, known professionally as CyHi da Prynce, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. In 2009, Young signed his first major-label contract with Konvict Muzik, with the backing of Def Jam Recordings. In 2010, he began to gain more attention with his work alongside fellow American rapper Kanye West. 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 Sony Music, following years of label disputes and series of mixtapes spanning his career.
Rich Isaacson is an international music entrepreneur whose influence spans artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, MIKA, Akon, Gustavo Santaolalla, Charles Bradley, Mobb Deep, Melanie Fiona, SafetySuit, and Three 6 Mafia.
Run-DMC was an American hip hop group from Hollis, Queens, New York City, founded in 1983 by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell. Run-DMC is regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of hip hop culture and one of the most famous hip hop acts of the 1980s. Along with Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Public Enemy, the group pioneered new school hip hop music. The group was among the first to highlight the importance of the MC and DJ relationship.
Steven William Victor, is a Haitian-American record executive, artist manager, music publisher, and A&R representative. He is the founder and CEO of Victor Victor Worldwide, COO of GOOD Music, and SVP of A&R at Universal Music Group. He formerly served as EVP of A&R at Def Jam Recordings.