Jay-Z's Def Jam Successor: Could Diddy, LL Cool J Or Irv Gotti Fill His Shoes?

Russell Simmons or Chaka Zulu might also be well-suited for the role as CEO/president of the label.

We've known that Jay-Z will step down from the top spot at Def Jam since he made the announcement on Monday. The question now is, once President Carter bows out from rap's Oval Office — effective Monday, for those keeping score at home — who will Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman L.A. Reid appoint to fill Hov's shoes, if anyone?

The rumors that either Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond or Damon Dash will become the new CEO/president of Def Jam have been swirling around almost as long as the ones about Jay-Z leaving his post. But while the latter rumors have become a reality, the former ones haven't come to fruition yet.

JD is already in the same building as Def Jam, serving as the president of Island Urban Music, which is under the Universal umbrella. In fact, when the Atlanta producer came onboard, before his position was identified, Jay suggested the two serve as co-presidents of Def Jam.

Rosemond's name has been tossed in the executive ring ever since JD left Virgin Records. The word was that Rosemond would replace Dupri at Virgin, before rumors put him in the big chair over at Def Jam.

And perhaps the most talked-about scenario — and clearly the most controversial — placed Jay-Z's friend-turned-foe Dash at the head of the house that Russell Simmons built.

Here, MTV News provides a list of other potential candidates, along with a few looooong shots, who could land the coveted Def Jam presidency:

Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo

Résumé: The head of Murder Inc., he was responsible for launching Ja Rule's and Ashanti's careers. Gotti was also instrumental in the rise of DMX and Jay-Z at Def Jam. As a producer, Gotti has been responsible for hits by artists ranging from Jennifer Lopez to Fat Joe.

Cred: Gotti got his start in the music industry with Def Jam, serving as an A&R exec under Lyor Cohen. In fact, there were rumors he was actually in line for the Def Jam prez post before his problems with the law. At times, he was able to work wonders with Murder Inc.'s limited talent pool, so imagine what he could do with the wealth of rap heavyweights Def Jam has, not to mention the R&B stars over there, including Rihanna and Ne-Yo.

Chaka Zulu

Résumé: One of the great managers in the game, he's helped guide Ludacris' multimedia onslaught of a career for roughly a decade now. That's not to mention the fact that their Disturbing Tha Peace label has spawned some pretty decent hip-hop and R&B prospects, including Chingy, Bobby Valentino and, most recently, Playaz Circle, who had one of the biggest street anthems of the year with "Duffle Bag Boy" (featuring Lil Wayne).

Cred: Like Gotti, Chaka is also an accomplished Def Jam alum. The New York native and Atlanta transplant held a promo position with the label, working projects and hitting the road with the likes of Method Man, Redman and a number of acts who are still down with the team. His limited success in the R&B world puts him at a slight disadvantage compared to Gotti.


Résumé: When you lose a big name, you should add a big name. Diddy brings credibility and worldwide recognition with him. He obviously knows rap and R&B, and how to market both extremely well. And his most recent album, Press Play, proved he still knows how to make a successful, cohesive LP.

Cred: Diddy has been responsible for more hits than Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes combined. He invented the remix, or so he says. And he's enjoyed a longtime friendship with L.A. Reid, dating to when they both manned labels — Bad Boy and LaFace, respectively — under Clive Davis' now-defunct Arista Records empire. Diddy is still under contract with Warner Music Group for Bad Boy, but the term may be up in as little as six months. He told you he won't stop, so maybe a position change could be on the horizon for him.

LL Cool J

Résumé: Def Jam's first official signee, LL has been an ambassador for the label since he made his debut more than 20 years ago. The Queens, New York-bred rapper has been able to evolve and re-create himself several times throughout his legendary career: He's gone toe-to-toe on posse cuts with hungry labelmates like Method Man, DMX and recent departee Joe Budden. And like he once rapped on his track "Ill Bomb": "Ask Russell Simmons who put 'em up in that skyscraper."

Cred: LL has been Jay-Z's most vocal critic, saying in interviews that the BK don was too busy promoting himself to worry about the artists on the label. Now LL could have the chance to put his money where his mouth is and keep recording for Def Jam, the only label he's ever been on: The lady-friendly MC is finalizing what he had announced would be his last album on Def Jam, Exit 13.

Russell Simmons

Résumé: He pioneered hip-hop's most historic label almost from the very beginning. Although Rick Rubin founded Def Jam, Simmons quickly came onboard, becoming the heart and soul of the operation. Under Simmons' guidance, Def Jam released records from iconic acts like Public Enemy, EPMD and the Beastie Boys. Uncle Russell made strides in the R&B world, too, personally signing crooner Case. After his departure from the label, his protégés Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles ushered Def Jam into the new millennium with heavyweights Jay-Z, DMX and Ja Rule.

Cred: He's the living blueprint of the hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur. Without Russell, there's no Diddy, Hov, Dame or Gotti — the list is endless. And, hey, he built the boat in the first place; maybe he can steer the ship now.

Other Notables:

Tracey Waples

She's been in the music business for years, working alongside some of the greats in the marketing field. Most recently she was Diddy's right hand at Bad Boy before leaving to work with Jay-Z at Def Jam. Chances are, however, she follows Hov to his next post.

50 Cent

He's upset with Jimmy Iovine and Interscope right now, and jumping ship to the competitor would motivate 50 more than any SoundScan showdown could. And imagine his delight to be Kanye West's boss.

Michael "Blue" Williams

The former manager of Outkast and Nas is a respected insider who is known to fight tenaciously on behalf of his clients.

Who do you think should be Jay-Z's successor, if anyone, as Def Jam CEO/president? Voice your opinion below!