Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons recently reflected on his label’s music industry takeover beginning in the 1980’s, and how he partnered with fellow mogul/rap enthusiast Rick Rubin.
Prior to breaking records and signing big acts, Simmons said Rubin made a name for himself as an artist.
“Rick Rubin, I seen him at Danceteria. He was a member of the Beastie Boys. He was DJ Double-R,” Simmons explained in an interview. ” I met him at Danceteria because Jazzy Jay brought him to me. Jazzy Jay was on the record ‘It’s Yours’ by T La Rock. It was the best record on the radio. We talked at Danceteria and he played me his drum machine. He had so many beats.” (Def Jam 25th Anniversary)
Following their encounter, Simmons and Rubin came together to form Def Jam Recordings.
“We started a record label. The record label put out [LL Cool J’s] first record,” Simmons explained. “The record stores didn’t know what was in the box because it said Def Jam. It was a core community who went to that cool store that bought the cool records, and that record was next after ‘It’s Yours.’ Rick owned and created that label, Def Jam, that was him.” (Def Jam 25th Anniversary)
In 2009, VH1’s Hip Hop Honors recognized Def Jam’s historic achievements.
The sixth annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors show will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Def Jam Records, as talents from across all artistic genres come together to celebrate this significant milestone in American hip-hop music. Eminem, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Fabolous, Ludacris, DMX, Mary J. Blige, Redman, The Roots, Method Man, ONYX, Public Enemy, Warren G, Kid Rock, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Brett Ratner, Trey Songz, Ja Rule, Gym Class Heroes and Scarface are scheduled to show up and show out to celebrate the label that served a catalyst for this American musical phenomenon. (VH1)
Rap veteran KRS-One previously talked about the positive and negative impact Def Jam has had on today’s hip-hop.
“Def Jam is the dopest label in hip-hop, in the culture of hip-hop,” he explained in an interview. “There really would be no hip-hop as we know it today if it wasn’t for Def Jam. But you don’t get that respect without also being the label that single-handedly destroyed hip-hop…Every time you think of what’s wrong with hip-hop, the lyrics, the commercialized music, one artist being played on the radio all day, things like that, that’s all Def Jam…We respect it. It’s a respect cause we all competing, so Def Jam had the hardest competition, but the hardest competition as I showed the respect, I also showed the truth. And the truth is everybody else had to sit down so Def Jam could be who they are.” (XXL Mag)
Check out Russell Simmons’ interview down below: