With a remit to sign and develop talent from across Africa, the new label is initially based Johannesburg and Lagos and will be supported by the A&R, marketing, creative and digital teams from the UMG teams in both Nigeria and South Africa.
Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa is to lead Def Jam Africa.
The label launches with a roster including Boity (South Africa), Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Larry Gaaga (Nigeria) Nadia Nakai (South Africa), Nasty C (South Africa), Tshego (South Africa), Tellaman (South Africa), Ricky Tyler (South Africa) and Vector (Nigeria).
Sipho Dlamini said, “Many of us in Africa grew up on music from legendary labels under the UMG umbrella. From Blue Note for jazz fans, to Mercury Records, which was Hugh Masekela’s first US label and Uptown Records, the home of Jodeci and Mary J Blige and many more. For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam. From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing Tha 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."
It is a historic achievement that we’re now able to bring this iconic label to Africa
Sipho Dlamini, Universal
Jeff Harleston, interim chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “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.”
Adam Granite, EVP, market development said, “Def Jam has always been a respected mark of hip-hop quality, and the calibre of artists already on the roster, shows that this is a label, truly dedicated to helping the very best rap talent from Africa, reach new audiences on a global level.”
Nasty C’s album Zulu Man With Some Power is due for release in partnership with Def Jam Recordings in the US this summer. Def Jam Africa will also release singles from Ricky Tyler, Boity, Tellaman feat. Alpha P, Vector, Cassper Nyovest and Tshego in the coming months.
Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate that Universal could be planning to launch Def Jam in the UK.