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How Def Jam Chairman/CEO Tunji Balogun Plans To Turn Iconic Label Into The Destination For ‘Global Black Music’

Def Jam Chairman/CEO Tunji Balogun is laying out his big plans for the future of the iconic record label and how he will turn it into the premiere destination for “global Black music.”

Balogun is on a mission to continue Def Jam’s legacy by revising its image and reshaping its future. Since taking on the role of Chairman/CEO in January 2022, Balogun has been behind the reworking of the label’s roster, signing notable acts like Coco Jones, Muni Long, and Armani White, Billboard reported.

However, it was no easy feat as Balogun joined the label at a time when there were “a lot of question marks” around its future. Def Jam had faced five years of nonstop disruption that started with the label’s founder Russell Simmons stepping down in 2017 after he was publicly accused of sexual assault by multiple women; allegations he denies.

When Balogun came on board, he knew his main focus had to be on bringing balance to the legendary label known for its role in the growth of hip-hop and for breaking big acts like LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Jay-Z, Rihanna, and many more. Balogun came with a reputable résumé, having worked with significant acts like Kendrick Lamar, Khalid, Normani, and H.E.R. but joined a label that was on the decline.

At the close of 2023, Def Jam’s market share was at 0.65%. It followed a three-year decline in market share prior to Balogun’s arrival. Now with the Nigerian American steering the ship, he has his eye on global expansion, with a roster of talent that represents the world. Along with Muni Long, Coco Jones, and Armani White, Balogun has also signed Dancehall hitmaker Masicka and Afrobeats stars Adekunle Gold and Odumodublvck (in partnership with Native Records).

With a focus on truly nurturing Def Jam artists while continuing to usher in the next generation of talent, Balogun is putting artist development back at the forefront of breaking new music acts. With Def Jam celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Balogun is confident that his ambitious plans for the label will solidify its respect and prestige in a constantly evolving music industry.

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