Def Jam Africa launches with a roster of South African and Nigerian hip-hop and Afrobeats artists.
The label will initially be based in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, but will identify and sign artist talent from across the entire continent. It will be supported by dedicated A&R, marketing, creative and digital teams from the UMG teams in both Nigeria and South Africa and will report to Sipho Dlamini, managing director of Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.
Def Jam Africa launches with a roster that includes some of the most successful African talent including Nigeria’s Larry Gaaga and Vector alongside South Africa’s Boity, Cassper Nyovest, Nadia Nakai, Nasty C, Tshego, Tellaman and Ricky Tyler. A majority of who were already signed to UMG.
In making the announcement, Dlamini said, “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. 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.
Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “Def Jam is a globally recognized brand, synonymous with excellence in hip-hop, and we enthusiastically welcome the launch of Def Jam Africa as an opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging from across the continent.”
Since its founding by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons in 1984, Def Jam has been one of the , with classic releases over the years from LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Method Man, Ghostface, DMX, Ludacris, the Roots, Young Jeezy, Frank Ocean, Logic and, via a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella and Roc Nation labels, Jay, Kanye West, Rihanna and others.