Today, Universal Music Group announced that it is launching Def Jam Africa, a new label division that operates within the continent to represent the best hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa. To start, the label will be based in Johannesburg and Lagos; the entirety of its starting roster comes from either South Africa and Nigeria. Those artists are currently some of the biggest names out of each country (many already having deal under their national division of UMG) and includes: Boity (South Africa), Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Larry Gaaga (Nigeria) Nadia Nakai (South Africa), Nasty C (South Africa), Tshego (South Africa), Tellaman (South Africa), Ricky Tyler (South Africa) and Vector (Nigeria).
Eventually, Def Jam Africa will identify and sign artist talent from across the entire continent. UMG teams in Nigeria and South Africa will provide A&R, marketing, creative and digital services for the label. All will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.
“Many of us in Africa grew up on music from legendary labels under the UMG umbrella,” Dlamini said in the announcement. “From Blue Note for jazz fans, to Mercury Records, which was Hugh Masekela’s first US label and Uptown Records, the home of Jodeci and Mary J Blige and many more. For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam. From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing tha Peace, Jay-Z, Big Sean and Kanye West, Def Jam has always been the ultimate destination for hip-hop and urban culture worldwide. It is a historic achievement that we’re now able to bring this iconic label to Africa, to create an authentic and trusted home for those who aspire to be the best in hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap. Together, we will build a new community of artists, that will push the boundaries of hip-hop from Africa, to reach new audiences globally.”