Chris Hicks, a former executive at Atlantic Records and Warner Chappell Music, has been named executive vice president at Def Jam Records, a source has confirmed to MTV News.
The appointment was first reported Thursday morning (January 15) by the New York Daily News.
Hicks will be replacing his friend, the late Shakir Stewart, who himself was appointed to the top spot at Def Jam only in June of last year. Stewart, however, shocked the music industry by committing suicide this past November. The post has been vacant ever since.
Def Jam Records is home to some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Among those signed to the storied rap label — founded by Rick Rubin and nurtured by Russell Simmons — are Kanye West, Young Jeezy and Nas. In the past, the label has been home to headlining acts such as DMX, EPMD, Ja Rule and LL Cool J (currently a free agent).
Former Def Jam president Shawn Carter — much better known worldwide as Jay-Z — is still contractually tied to the label. The iconic rapper served as president of the label for three years before stepping down in 2007. Jay reportedly has one more album due on Def Jam, the forthcoming Blueprint 3. The Roc-A-Fella founder signed a $150 million deal over 10 years with Live Nation last May.
As for Hicks, the Atlanta resident got his start in the music business with his own company, Noontime. He worked his way up through a number of A&R projects and has signed Lil Wayne, T.I. and Dr. Dre to publishing deals during his career. Hicks will report directly to Island Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid.