Def Jam is one of Hip-Hop’s most iconic and storied record labels with over 35 years in the game. Today (May 26), the Universal Music Group announced the launch of Def Jam Africa.
The new label is being touted as “representing the best hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa” and will followed the “blueprint” set forth by Def Jam, founded by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin in the latter’s NYU dorm back in 1984.
Although based in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, Def Jam Africa is tasked with locking down talent across the whole continent. The label will be complemented with entire teams for A&R, marketing, creative and digital. The staff will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.
While the label has a massive talent pool to dip into, it already has a healthy roster of talent. Artists already signed to Def Jam Africa include Boity (South Africa), Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Larry Gaaga (Nigeria) Nadia Nakai (South Africa), Nasty C (South Africa), Tshego (South Africa), Tellaman (South Africa), Ricky Tyler (South Africa) and Vector (Nigeria).
“Many of us in Africa grew up on music from legendary labels under the UMG umbrella. From Blue Note for jazz fans, to Mercury Records, which was Hugh Masekela’s first US label and Uptown Records, the home of Jodeci and Mary J Blige and many more,” said Dlamini via a press statement. “For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam. From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing the Peace, Jay-Z, Big Sean and Kanye West, Def Jam has always been the ultimate destination for hip-hop and urban culture worldwide. It is a historic achievement that we’re now able to bring this iconic label to Africa, to create an authentic and trusted home for those who aspire to be the best in hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap. Together, we will build a new community of artists, that will push the boundaries of hip-hop from Africa, to reach new audiences globally.”
First up is an album from South African rapper Nasty C titled Zulu Man with Some Power that will drop in partnership with Def Jam Recordings in the United States.
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