When you think of the great Def Jam executives, Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles all come to mind. But don't forget to credit Irv Gotti with helping rebuild the legendary hip-hop label in the mid-1990s.

After producing for Jay-Z's independent debut, Reasonable Doubt, Gotti helped set up the now-infamous deal between Hov's Roc-A-Fella and Def Jam. DMX, in all his multiplatinum glory, came next, and Ja Rule followed, all brought to Def Jam by Gotti. Now, the Murder Inc. founder wants to head the seminal rap record company.

"I wanted to speak on this because I love the hip-hop culture with a deep, deep passion," Irv Gotti said when he visited "RapFix Live" on Wednesday (October 5). "Def Jam is the light of that culture; Def Jam personifies the hip-hop culture. There is no other hip-hop label like Def Jam."

Irv acknowledged the contributions of late label executive Shakir Stewart but criticized former Def Jam Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid and said there hasn't been a proper president at the company since Jay-Z left at the top of 2008. Gotti, like Violator's Chris Lighty, has always had his name come up whenever rumors of who will take the label's reins surface.

"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."

Gotti said the company that serves as a home to Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and Fabolous has a talented roster but needs leadership. Irv recalled the time when Cohen went to DMX's Yonkers, New York, neighborhood to sign the rough-around-the-edges hitmaker. He also told host Sway a story about how Lyor once played basketball against the LOX at the famed Rucker Park.

He's also worried that if someone isn't brought in soon, the label will eventually crumble. "This is helping our lives. This is a culture that is deep for us. You can't let it die, and if you let Def Jam die, you're gonna let a bit of the culture die," Gotti pleaded passionately. "And the fact that you ain't got no one up there leading the army and ain't had nobody — you just let the artists come up there, give you a record and you put it out. That's not what Def Jam is about."

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