How Def Jam Changed Hip Hop

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(The Guardian) — The Def Jam label holds an almost mythical status within hip-hop. How come? After all, it was far from the first to put out rap music and, though it released numerous seminal records (Run DMC, Public Enemy, EPMD), there are perhaps not so many as you might think.  Still, there is no label whose fortunes seem so intertwined with hip-hop’s own, tracing the genre’s growth from cottage industry in the 80s via blue-chip market leader in the early noughties to today’s clumsy and somewhat grotesque behemoth (last year Def Jam even signed execrable tweeny rappers N-Dubz).  Maybe it’s simply because Def Jam has outlived its peers, or maybe there’s something particularly iconic about that logo – the D that looks like a halved 12-inch vinyl and the J resembling the arm of a turntable.

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