LL Cool J and Memphis Bleek boycott Def Jam

26 Sep

Def JamWith VH1 gearing up to celebrate the 25 year history of Def Jam, two of their former artists, LL Cool J and Memphis Bleek will not be taking part in the excitement. The show has yet to air, but taped earlier this week, with the highlight being a reconciliation between Ja Rule and DMX.

LL Cool J was the first artist signed to Def Jam. All of his thirteen albums were released on the label. Without LL Cool J, the label would have never risen to the heights that it did. In the late 1980s until the early 1990s, LL was the biggest rapper on the planet. As a result, Def Jam became the biggest hip hop label on the planet.

The reign that LL Cool J had over rap ended in 1995 and the label went into a dramatic slump. Def Jam was sold to Universal in the same year and reorganization took place. When this happened, Irv Gotti was signed on as an A&R. He helped Jay-Z secure a deal with Def Jam for his Roc-A-Fella Records and got DMX signed to the label, also. The two went on to have successful releases on the label.

Roc-A-Fella Records helped to revive Def Jam behind the efforts of Jay-Z. One of his artists was Memphis Bleek. He was poised to become the next big thing on the label, but things never worked out right for him. Still, he always sells a consistent 400,000 to 800,000 copies. On a label like Def Jam, that is not enough. As a result, Memphis Bleek was never properly promoted by the label.

When the 2000s arrived, LL Cool J was overshadowed at Def Jam by Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, and Ludacris, along with many other artists. His albums were never promoted the way that other albums were. In 2004, Jay-Z became the CEO of Def Jam and he chose to release a solo album from himself, rather than a planned LL Cool J release.

In 2007, Jay-Z stepped down, but LL was still disappointed with the new direction of the label. As a result, he left after his 2008 release, Exit 13. Memphis Bleek also left the label, but earlier this year because he was never properly promoted. While LL Cool J has an acting role on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” Memphis Bleek is signed with a new label and will be releasing a new album in November.

Both artists have spoken out against the label and neither appeared at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors.

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