Def Jam Recordings
Def Jam Recordings is an American label who specialises in hip-hop and R&B. It is considered one of the most powerful labels in urban music. It has launched the careers of some of the most successful artists in the industry, such as Jay-Z, Cam'Ron, DMX, Method Man, Redman, Ludacris, Kanye West, Ashanti, The-Dream, Big Boi and Rihanna.
The label was started in New York in 1984 by Rick Rubin, who would soon be joined by Russell Simmons. Their first releases were by LL Cool J and Beastie Boys. The singles' success landed them a distribution deal with Columbia, and they were able to release their first LP, LL Cool J's “Radio”. After significantly contributing to the popularisation of Beastie Boys at the end of the eighties, Def Jam signed Public Enemy. During the nineties, and after several buy-outs and merges, the label became part of the Universal Music Group.
In the past decade, Def Jam started their international expansion with the creation of several divisions in countries like Germany and Japan. In 2005, Def Jam bought Roc-A-Fella, which meant the signing of the then emerging producer and rapper Kanye West. Shortly thereafter, Roc-A-Fella founder Jay-Z was named president of the company. Under his command, the label launched the careers of artists like Rihanna and Ne-Yo, and signed people like Rick Ross, Nas and The Roots. In 2007 Jay-Z stepped down, though he is still on the label's roster as an artist.
LL Cool J: “Radio” (1985)
Beastie Boys: “License to Ill” (1987)
Public Enemy: “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” (1988)
EPMD: “Business As Usual” (1990)
Method Man: “Tical” (1994)
DMX: “It's Dark and Hell Is Hot” (1998)
Ja Rule: “Pain Is Love” (2001)
Jay-Z: “The Blueprint” (2001)
Jay Z: “The Black Album” (2003)
Kanye West: “The College Dropout” (2004):
Kanye West: “Late Registration” (2005)
Ghostface Killah: “Fishscale” (2006)
Rick Ross: “Teflon Don” (2010)
LL Cool J