Who will save Def Jam this time?

22 Dec

The last time that Def Jam had fallen off like this, they had Irv Gotti as a member of their team. It was his job to keep an ear to the streets. At the time, he had a relationship with Queens rapper, Ja Rule and Yonkers rapper, DMX. He was also doing some DJ work for Jay-Z. Gotti had even produced for his 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt.

In a short period of time, he was able to get DMX and Jay-Z to sign with Def Jam. Ja Rule would also sign with the label. However, Rule was transferred over to Gotti’s sub-label, Murder Inc. By the next year, Def Jam had three hit albums from Jay-Z and DMX. The following year, releases from all three rappers came and were multi-platinum successes.

The late 1990s ended up being very good to Def Jam. Then, the new millennium came in and that saw Jay-Z rise to iconic status. Along the way, DMX continued to make solid hits and sell platinum records. Ja Rule would end up dominating the pop charts and the hip hop charts during this run.

Stemming from the Irv Gotti signing, Jay-Z’s success gave birth to the success of many other artists. Those artists include Freeway, Beanie Sigel, Cam’ron, and Memphis Bleek. Behind the success of Ja Rule, Ashanti and Lloyd also became hit makers. When Jay-Z rose to become the new head of the label, he signed a plethora of acts that ended up creating more hits for the label.

However, now, Ja Rule and DMX are no longer on the label. Ashanti and Lloyd are also off of the Def Jam label. Late last year, Jay-Z left Def Jam, as did most of the Roc-A-Fella crew. It is rumored that more acts, such as Ne-Yo and Kanye West, will also leave Def Jam when their contracts expire next year. Now that Jay-Z is gone from the label, it is possible that many more acts will try to leave the label.

In a matter of only 18 months, Def Jam went from being a powerhouse to being a label in distress, as it was in the mid-1990s. The era of Irv Gotti left when Jay-Z left, there are other executives on the label, such as DJ Khaled, but he has done little to keep the label afloat. Now that all of this has happened, who will be there to save Def Jam this time?

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