Redman Says Def Jam Has Lost Its Edge, Calls The Label 'Followers'

One of Def Jam's own artists says the pioneering label has lost its leadership, and is struggling, along with other labels, to keep up in the digital era.

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.

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21 Comments

  • Real talk

    Thats real shit he's talking about. In fact there are only four major labels left. No one is signing artist but independent labels that are signed or in partnership with majors. Even the artist that has been signed by majors proved themselves by internet success. The day of the internet artist is here. Wiz khalifa, Drake, Nicki minaj, Justin Beiber, Kid cud, Jay electronica (i could go on for days) all succeded on the internet before signing thir deals. Fuck a major studio when an artist can record HD quality music in their bed room. Red man is 100% right. He's gona have to take his career in his own hands ..... ps jay z is the muthfuckin man cuz of his music, business moves and his ability to adapt to change and relate to culture. If people didn't care, why would his cd and shows rank in the top 10 for highest grossing act in music to date. Empire state of mind was probably his biggest record outside of "hard knock life". Music is global now. His money proves to people that he's doing something right. So we listen, watch, learn and aspire to be similar the same way we would with Steve jobs, bill gates, donald trump, oprah winfrey,mark zuckerberg

  • Raw Business

    For Def Jam to relevant to Hip-Hop, a hip-hop head that knows business needs to run it. You can't have LA Reid, who rightfully so only focuses on hits be the head of a Hip-Hop label. His guidance would be beneficial, but a true head needs to say here are my artists, how do we make them blow up? Market this original material keep it counter culture while still being fiscally viable.

  • bdee

    When was Run-DMC on the DefJam label. I thought they were on Profile

    • DMV Dave

      They were with RUSH [Russell's] management only... hhhmmm, lack of actual Hip-Hop knowledge by the writing staff... explains a lot (especially when I read DX's fucking album reviews)...

  • gdiggedy

    "Def Jam lost they soul". Red said this 5 years ago. I wonder how many albums he has left on the label. If he's still complaining now I think its time for him to head elsewhere. Def Jam is wack these days though.

  • Raw Business

    Run DMC was never on Def Jam, come on Hip-Hop DX!

  • frank

    how da fuck he gon complain n he dropping under def jam oh i get he bout to drop so he need to b n da media somehow? wat a load of crock jus another chapter of old rapper mad cause music changin n he aint hot no more his music aint gon sell lmao!!!!!!!!!!!

  • hellrazor

    def jam's approach is harrowing and i dont even follow their artists no more. redman is right, there is veracity in his statement. if the fuckin label is so desperate for profit, they have to spend money and they barely market albums which results in poor sales (and they still wonder why the albums flop!), i dont see a silver lining here. def jam was a pioneering force that propelled hip-hop into a full fledged lifestyle rather than just a genre. their contribution to hip-hop is undeniable. the roster they had before was a force to be reckoned with; now they settled with pop stars & shit. that's just fuckin sad. i guess independent is the way to go, i'm more pleased with underground rap cuz they got freedom, fuck record sales, even the mixtape game has turned into horseshit.

  • POPTHADON

    is about making money at the end of the day and if they aint gonna benefit out of putting redman album out they wont he better off trying to leave that label and do it independent by himself

    • FromDat202

      True. I wouldn't of even known a Redman cd was coming out on Dec 7 until I read this article, and 2day is Dec 1....no promotion, but I will be copping.

  • Triune

    Truth is, when you have a board of directors with expectations of being in the black every qtr, it's tough to take risks. Redman is partly correct, Def Jam is following trends because with every Rhianna, there's an Ace Hood. Records are not selling and for there to even be a Def Jam, they have to be profitable. Def Jam's best artist sales wise is Kanye West. He is the only one over there that can do 500k plus in his fist week. In the 90's, Def Jam took more risks because, Method Man sold records, LL sold records, Luda sold records, Jay sold records, DMX sold records, Ja Rule sold records, etc... there was a lot more experimental money to be spread around but now, you gotta hit a home run every time, or shut your doors.

    • Andre RichMan Cannons Lovell

      Man, y'all hit it right on the head. Now this is an intelligent response and reasonable on too. CHURCH!!!

    • bios

      exactly. Labels can't afford to take any serious risks anymore because their top artists are only going 2 to 3 times platinum rather than 7-8 like back in the day, so there is less money to invest in new and exciting artists. Shame but that's what happens when people decide they no longer want to pay for music. we all suffer.

  • to the labels

    you cant make mney if you don't spend it. all these labels are afraid to lose money, so they keep half-assing all their projects. following music trends, not devoloping new ones, not taking risks and promoting like they used too. and i don't who gave them the idea that these crapy news bits they feed these websites would suffice as promotion.

  • anonymous

    run dmc was not on def jam, come on tho they were heavily affiliated cause runs Russell's brother

  • Excuses bore me

    Funny how people KEEP looking for people to blame for not being able to sell records...in a fucked up economy...when it's easy for people to STEAL. Jay-Z is long gone, records have dropped, records have flopped since. I thought Jay was supposedly fucking everybody over and that's why niggas couldn't go Wood with their shit!! Where is that lip-licking faggot LL?

    • Direct Bomber

      @Excuses bore me ^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep Jay's dick in your mouth all you want to but Jay is very underhanded with how he keeps himself around in the rap game...Who's to say the reason why people stay on Jay's dick so damn much is because he's invested so much of his money into his name,stature,and image so that he can't be hated on and people can't say that he's whack when he is...Jay is using his money to keep people from saying that's he's fallen off or that he's whack...As long as Jay has so much money to throw around to keep the media and other outlets from reporting that he's fallen off or that he's whack then Jay's gonna continue to live comfortably and act like nothing underhanded is happening when it is...Jay won't tell you everything and Jay won't reveal everything as to why people stay on his dick so much...How much money he makes plays a major role as to why people have'nt publicly said in the media that's he's fallen off yet...Money protects Hov and that's what he uses it for and that's the only main reason why Jay-Z is still relevant today and that's because of his money...His money keeps him relevant and that's it...People will tell you that they like Jay-Z because he's a hustler that's making that money and that's it...Money is the only reason why people respect him and like him...If Jay were to go completely broke tomorrow then who would care who he is...

    • FromDat202

      LL is the G.O.A.T.

    • read a book muthafucka read a book

      LL (the only hiphop artist to go platinum in 3 different decades) is currently on a hit t.v. show. hatin' ass clown.

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