Def Jam is one of the biggest record label In US , the label itself focusing on Hip Hop\R&B\Soul music .
Today, it’s owned by UMG (Universal Music Group) , In UK the label itself is associated with Virgin EMI Records & In Japan it is known as Def Jam Japan under Universal Japan Music .
Def Jam was founded by Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin in the 80’s within’ artists roster like LL Cool J , Run-DMC , T LA Rock & Public Enemy , EPMD , Foxy Brown & Warren G .
In 1998, PolyGram was purchased by Seagram and merged with the MCA family of labels, which became Universal Music Group. It then purchased the remaining interest of Def Jam Recordings from Russell Simmons for a reported $100 million. UMG merged 14+ record labels including: Def Jam, Island Records and Mercury Records to form The Island Def Jam Music Group. Despite the formation of IDJMG, the Def Jam, Mercury, and Island labels (among others) continued to operate as separate imprints underneath the bigger umbrella.
Lyor Cohen was appointed co-president of IDJMG, and Kevin Liles succeeded him as president of Def Jam. In 1999, IDJMG created a R&B spin-off label called Def Soul Recordings to run alongside Def Jam Recordings, which inherited many of Island Records’ urban artists (and also some from Mercury Records), including Dru Hill and its lead singer Sisqó, the Isley Brothers and Kelly Price. Def Soul also issued recordings by Musiq, Montell Jordan, Case, 112, Patti LaBelle, and Christina Milian. Island’s 4th & B’way Records was also folded into Def Jam. Kevin Liles also served as President of Def Soul Records.
Also in 1999, the label began to distribute releases by Murder Inc. Records, run by former Def Jam executive Irv Gotti. Murder Inc.’s roster of artists would include Ja Rule, Ashanti, Lloyd, Vita. The following year, it launched another subsidiary, Def Jam South, which focused on Southern rap and distributed releases from labels such as Disturbing tha Peace, whose artists have included Ludacris, Chingy, and Bobby Valentino. Russell Simmons tapped Texas-born and raised rap legend Scarface (a.k.a. Brad Jordan) as the original head of Def Jam South. After about a 4-year run at Def Jam South, Scarface negotiated a release from the company in 2003.
The label distributes releases of various record labels, including Kanye West‘s GOOD Music, and ARTium Recordings, headed by Def Jam’s former executive vice president, No I.D.. Current artists include Logic, Big Sean, Kanye West, Leona Lewis, 2 Chainz, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Mother Mother, Afrojack, Jeezy, Jeremih, Ludacris, Alesso, Pusha T, Vince Staples, Desiigner and Jhené Aiko among others.
For more information & full story : Def Jam Recordings
Here’s the Official Website : Def Jam Recordings
Here’s some of the music from the label’s artists through all years :