Universal Music Group (UMG), US’ global music brand, has launched Def Jam Africa, its latest label division within the continent.

Sipho Dlamini, the MD of Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa, who broke the news in a statement on Tuesday, said the brand would now report to him.

The new label, according to the statement, is dedicated to representing “the best hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa, and will follow the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label,” one of the most important hip-hop/R&B companies in history.

It is understood that the subsidiary will be based in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria.

“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,” said Dlamini.

“Many of us in Africa grew up on music from legendary labels under the UMG umbrella. For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam.

“From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing the 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.”

Def Jam Africa debuted with artistes spanning several countries on the continent including Boity, Nadia Nakai, and Cassper Nyovest from South Africa alongside Nigeria’s Larry Gaaga.

Others who are also signed to the label are Nasty C (South Africa), Tshego (South Africa), Tellaman (South Africa), Ricky Tyler (South Africa), and Vector (Nigeria).

While most of these crooners were said to have previously made releases under the brand, it is believed that Def Jam comes as the first standalone UMG label in Africa with its own identity.

UMG’s French subsidiary had earlier partnered Aristokrat Group, Burna Boy’s breakout label, towards developing African talents and songwriters in a bid to launch them into the global market.



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