Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label

Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label

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To be clear from the start, this is not a book for the long form reader. This coffee table book charts the course of the Def Jam record label, the label that brought hip-hop to the masses, by offering a visual history from its inception to modern day, with contributions from all the major players involved over the years. It offers an insight into one of music’s great record labels that is synonymous with acts such as the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Public Enemy, LL Cool J. And there are fabulous iconic images and memorable quotes such as

“from a Rebel it’s final on Black vinyl /soul, rock and roll comin’ like a rhino”

To be sure, it is an amazing journey. Looking back to the eighties when Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons met up to create a modern day Chess records for hip-hop and rap artists all the way to the new millennium where an act like Jay Z has become so mainstream he can headline a music festivals such as Glastonbury.

It was very interesting to read the insights provided by Rubin into the early days of the label, but I also found it difficult to read continuous passages and noticed myself jumping back and forth between sections of particular interest and getting distracted by some amazing artwork displayed in glorious color. Cey Adams, the former Def Jam creative director, deserves a lot of the credit for making the book such an aesthetically pleasing book.

For musical accompaniment, I was using the NPRs Mix of 25 Years Of Def Jam Recordings which added to the overall experience . But while perusing the book as opposed to reading it,  I just kept thinking this would make for a great iPad (or other tablet) experience where the eye candy could be interactive. Still, Def Jam Recordings will make for a nice gift for Christmas for any music fan.


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