Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah recently updated fans on his status with Def Jam Records and said the label’s lack of street credibility forced them to keep him on its artist roster.
Despite signing to Def Jam in the early 2000’s, Tony Starks said his career never took off at the renowned label.
“Def Jam just made deals with me. They wouldn’t let me go because they didn’t really have that much street cred. So they kept me around. I’m like, “Okay you gotta give me this and I’ll give you this” type sh*t. I did an R&B album for them n*ggas and they still couldn’t take me nowhere. It is what it is though. I ain’t gonna sh*t on them, but my career really didn’t go nowhere on Def Jam. [Fishscale?] But that didn’t really go nowhere. It was just there. I could do the same shit I’m doing on my own or wherever else. It’s whatever works. Sometimes you need your label to go ahead and get you out there. You might do a 50-50 with somebody.” (Complex)
The Wu member also acknowledged how Def Jam has downsized its staff.
“It don’t make a difference because we still gonna do the same music. The companies ain’t behind you like that no more. They making you do all the work. What they used to be doing 300 person staff, it’s no more. I was talking to Redman, he said they only got like 10 cubicles up in [the Def Jam office] and that’s it. Ain’t no more this floor, that floor, that floor. They crushed all that sh*t down to like 10 f*cking desks. What you gonna do for me man when you got like 60 artists you gotta look after, b?” (Complex)
In late 2010, rap veteran Redman discussed Def Jam’s focus on new talent rather than meeting the needs of older artists.
“I never had a beef with Def Jam,” Red said in an interview. “When I came in the game under Def Jam, I was brought [in] under an umbrella. That umbrella was building an artist. That umbrella was servicing the underground culture as well as pop. It wasn’t just, ‘Okay you have to be this kind of artist just to get serviced or to get any kind of help.’ Any kind of help from Def Jam back in the day, it was appreciated…They’re not servicing to the pop culture and also the underground culture as well. There’s not a staff in the building that says, ‘Okay, we got our new artists but who’s handling the main artists?’ It shouldn’t be just ‘new artists, new artists, new artists’… I feel that’s what’s going on right now — I know we more viral now as far as Internet…I love them and I don’t have no beef, you just have to take it back to your old plans and that’s the only thing I say.” (Vlad TV)
Prior to apologizing, former Def Jam artist Shyne gave SOHH the inside on his issues with the label.
“I’m definitely trying to get with Cash Money but the Def Jam thing is a question mark right now,” Shyne told SOHH. “I’ve been fixing to get up out of there for a while now because [Island Def Jam CEO] L.A. Reid don’t care about hip-hop. The people up there, they don’t know what they’re doing. When you don’t have a strong leader, where you gonna go? … They don’t care about hip-hop music. You give them a hip-hop record with an R&B singer, you “might” have a chance. They don’t care. You got The Roots, Ghostface, Nas, probably the best hip-hop roster you could imagine and they do nothing. L.A. Reid doesn’t want nothing to do with rappers — it’s nothing personal, I don’t have nothing personal with dude but he makes it known he doesn’t care about hip-hop. So I’m really interested in seeing who’s gonna replace him. Because I know he’s been replaced — so I wanna find out who’s gonna take his spot before I decide what I’m gonna do with Def Jam…The music that we make is responsible for pop, R&B, everything that’s jumping right now…” (SOHH)