Def Jam Records takes first steps for footprint in Africa

Boity Thulo is also signed to the label
Boity Thulo is also signed to the label
Image: Boity \ Instagram

US recording label Def Jam Records, which has been producing the best hip-hop talent for more than 35 years, is spreading its wings to Johannesburg and Nigeria.

Def Jam Records Africa, which is part of Universal Music Group (UMG), will focus on unearthing hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa.

The label launches with the signing of stars such as Boity, Cassper Nyovest, Nadia Nakai, Nasty C, Tshego, Tellaman, Ricky Tyler (all from South Africa), Larry Gaaga and Vector (both from Nigeria).

Universal Music Group managing director of South Africa and Sub-Saharan​ Africa  Sipho Dlamini said: “For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam. From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing that 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."

Acting chairman and CEO of Def Jam Recordings  Jeff Harleston said in a statement: “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.”

According to the Universal Music Group statement, the label will initially be based in Johannesburg and Lagos, 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 Dlamini, MD, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa. 

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