In 1998, DJ Clue launched his Desert Storm label. The same year, he met a young rapper from the Brooklyn area named Fabolous Sport. Together, they dominated the mixtape scene until their work was noticed by an executive from Elektra Records. Before the end of 2000, DJ Clue had reached an exclusive distribution deal with Elektra Records. In 2001, Fabolous released his debut album, Ghetto Fabolous.
The album would be a platinum success for the label, earning DJ Clue props for his work as an executive. After the success of Fabolous’ album, Clue would sign R&B act, Mike Shorey, to his label. He would pair Shorey with Fabolous and they created such hits as “Baby.” But, in the long run, they did not have the type of chemistry that DJ Clue would have preferred. The only notable star on Desert Storm remains Fabolous.
After the release of Fab’s Real Talk album, another platinum success, DJ Clue began working to move his label over to Def Jam for distribution. For years, DJ Clue had been an official DJ of Roc-A-Fella Records, which had a deal with Def Jam at the time. While Clue did his executive work for Elektra and later Atlantic Records, he had begun with an artist deal with Def Jam. In 2006, the label switched to Def Jam in a trade, so to speak.
The product of this deal was Fabolous’ fourth album, From Nothin’ to Somethin’, which was another platinum hit under his belt. For years, Fabolous had been picked as the next artist to blow from New York City. A lack of consistency stopped this from happening. The only thing that Fabolous has remained consistent at is being the flagship artist for Desert Storm. Once the label moved to Def Jam, Mike Shorey was replaced by Ne-Yo as the hook singer.
For the past four years, DJ Clue has watched Desert Storm receive backdoor treatment at the label in favor of Kanye West and Rick Ross. It is often said that rappers without those names are often ignored by Def Jam. The recent breakup of the Roc-A-Fella roster has even DJ Clue without an actual deal with the label. Fabolous owes one more album to Def Jam and after that he is free to record for any label of his choice.
When he had first started Desert Storm, DJ Clue wanted the label to become something along the lines of the next Bad Boy. This never did quite happen, though. Because of his mixtape series and the work with Fabolous, DJ Clue never expanded the Desert Storm label the way that he envisioned. More than anything, the label serves as a management team for Fabolous, who has his own crew on the side. Beginning in 2010, DJ Clue wants to sign more artists to Desert Storm.
Often, both DJ Clue and Fabolous state that they are very happy on Def Jam. But, the Loso’s Way album from Fab was widely-ignored by the label. Despite the recent stagnation from Fabolous, there are many other labels that would be glad to have him on their roster and they would pay more attention to him. While Def Jam does not show interest in helping smaller hip hop labels grow their roster the way that they did when Irv Gotti built his label under them, other labels are more nurturing.
The main New Year’s Resolution from DJ Clue is to rebuild his Desert Storm label, but it is unclear where he will choose to do this.