There is no denying the significant influence Def Jam has had on the emergence of Hip Hop music. The label that was once home to both Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. was not just famous for its talent, but also revered for it’s contributions to the culture. However, the label previously synonymous with Hip Hop, has faced criticism for its failure to keep up with transformations in the music industry. Some of this criticism comes from Def Jam’s own artists, most recently, Redman. He sat down with XXL Magazine to describe what he feels are the label’s biggest problems.
“[Def Jam] are not leaders like they used to be,” Redman said. “In the ’90s they were leaders. They were the label that you considered the mechanics of Hip Hop; they’re under the car. They were the ones under the car getting greasy, getting dirty, fixing that muffler that drags when everybody loved that shit and was following it. Now they’re playing the follower. They’re followers. They’re not building artists no more like they should. And that’s just the game.”
Even with acts like Rick Ross, Rihanna, and Kanye West, Def Jam has struggled with record sales due, in part, to evolving trends of music consumption. Redman said that labels need to catch up with new trends in consumer behavior, as well as put much more focus and effort on the promotion of artists’ work.
“They have to catch up now. The way the labels were ran back then in the ’90s. We had tapes and even from studio equipment a lot of people weren’t prepared for that–like getting rid of their 24-track reel tapes. So yes, it came up quick on a lot of labels with this viral [thing] and [now] you’re able to do songs in the comforts of your own home and not having to go to a big studio. They shutting studios down, you can get known through Facebook or whatever. You don’t have to wait for a label to put you out now, so yes I think the labels are shut down a little bit and sizing down a lot.”
Redman’s upcoming album Reggie is scheduled to release on Dec. 7, on Def Jam.