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Def Jam

Def Jam is a New York hip-hop label that was founded in 1983 by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. Over the years, it has become one of the most well-known hip-hop labels in the world, launching the careers of iconic artists such as Public Enemy, L.L. Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Redman, and DMX. Since 2022, Tunji Balogun has been serving as Chairman and CEO of Def Jam.

The label's history dates back to its independent beginnings in 1984 when it released several 12" singles. In 1985, Def Jam Recordings started distributing through Columbia/CBS Records. Subsequently, CBS Records was acquired by Sony Corporation in 1988 and later became Sony Music Entertainment in 1991.

In a series of ownership changes and mergers over the years, PolyGram purchased a majority stake in Def Jam holdings from Sony. Eventually, Universal Music Group acquired all remaining Def Jam assets from Sony after merging with PolyGram families of labels. This led to the formation of Island Def Jam Music Group which merged with Mercury's pop roster and Island Records.


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