29 Black Music Milestones: Russell Simmons Co-Founds Def Jam

Russell Simmons Supports Mosque Near Ground Zero

Along with producer Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons helped create Def Jam Recordings in 1984 and soon established the imprint as a major force in hip-hop music. Simmons used Def Jam as a platform for the early recordings of artists like LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.

As Def Jam merged with Island Records under Universal Music Group to form the Island Def Jam Music Group in the 90s, the label contributed to hip-hop culture with music by Nas, Kanye West and Jay-Z, who became the President and CEO of Def Jam in 2004. Under Antonio "L.A." Reid, Def Jam now features a wide variety of artists including Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey and the Killers.

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