Hard to believe that Def Jam Records has been around for 25 years! I remember the first time I heard of Def Jam, it was when I discovered The Beastie Boys classic debut “Licensed To Ill” a release that managed to bring hip-hop, punk, rock and mainstream audiences together with the universal call to “Fight for Your Right to Party!” Something any 13 year old (my age in 1986) can stand behind, even though I really didn’t know what “partying” was yet.
The label was started by the now-infamous record producer Rick Rubin in his dorm room at NYU and its first release was a single by his punk group Hose. Shortly after that, Vincent Gallo introduced Rubin to Russell Simmons. The label would then focus more on hip-hop and urban music but would also count thrash-metal band Slayer among its ranks, proving its diversity and desire to bring the rock and hip-hop communities together. Throughout the late 80s and early to mid 90s, Def Jam would dominate the pop charts with ground breaking releases by Public Enemy, LL Cool J and EPMD and then into the new millennium with chart-toppers Rihanna, Jay Z and Kanye West. Read the rest of this entry »