Def Jam started as an independent rap label run out of a college dorm room by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, but today it stands amongst hip-hop’s strongest brands. Now, the powerhouse label has added to its legacy by naming former Warner Bros. Records executive Joie Manda as its new president.
“Running Def Jam is the greatest challenge of my career,” Manda said in a press release issued to MTV News Wednesday (March 14). “The Def Jam artist roster has always been synonymous with the greatest in hip-hop, and I intend to carry that tradition into the future.”
While serving as head of Warner Urban Music, Manda helped build the record company’s current roster of Common, Gucci Mane and Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group imprint. The move to Island Def Jam connects Manda with a roster that includes Kanye West, Rihanna, Ludacris, Nas, 2 Chainz and Rick Ross as a solo artist.
Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles and Jay-Z have all famously held the esteemed position, and last year former Def Jam A&R and Murder Inc. CEO Gotti lobbied for the coveted job.
During an October interview on MTV News’ “RapFix Live,” Irv Gotti pleaded with Def Jam to fill the presidency position with someone who was passionate about hip-hop culture — of course nominating himself. “If you don’t want to hire me — the best man for the job, the man who will die for it — cool, I understand. You think I’m Suge Knight, you think the Feds may come in here again if you hire me, cool,” the music producer said, referring to the money-laundering charges he beat in 2005. “Put somebody in there, because you not giving any sign or any indication that you care about my culture.”
“As we look to expand Def Jam and our creative urban music activities even further, there is no one better to lead them than Joie,” said Barry Weiss, chairman and CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam. “He has emerged as one of the most respected young executives in today’s urban music landscape, possessing all the qualifications and experience that are essential to run Def Jam, the world’s most important hip-hop destination.”
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