Joe Budden once said in a rap that Def Jam wasn't worried about artists unless they were Jay, Kanye or Jeezy and it seems that a lot of validity has been held to that statement. Once known as the premiere label for rap artists, it has now seen more rappers leaving then coming as of late.
For those that continue to fight the good fight and stick it out, a lack of backing is apparent when their project comes out and it doesn't seem to have been fully marketed. Look no further than examples such as Ghostface Killah, Method Man or Redman. The label has changed its overall focus and it seems to be more concerned with giving all of its energy towards the mainstream hits instead of developing the soldiers within the army.
Memphis Bleek was one artist that represented the Def Jam flag. In 2005, after Memphis Bleek released 534, it was apparent that there was no real push to catapult the album. Speaking with HipHopWired, Bleek shed some light on some grievances with the label at the time of the album.
“The whole overall, it had something to do with Jay, me, Def Jam staff, Roc-a-fella staff. Yo what I mean it was everything. Nobody was paying attention to Memphis Bleek and the Young Guns album dropping one week a part of each other. Nobody paid attention to Memphis Bleek and the Young Guns having a single produced by the same producer featuring the same producer. It was a host of things so I can't just solely put the blame on him, that's a coward move when somebody just want to find a scapegoat. It's my fault too because as well as I know these things, I never spoke up and said nothing. Then because I was unaware, you just be in the moment sometimes you just be caught up in the moment and don't speak a reality until it hits you in the head, you know?”
Stepping outside of the label and outside of the shadow of Jay-Z, Bleek revealed one of the overall purposes behind his upcoming label Get Low Records.
“I felt like I didn't want to put out another release under Def Jam if they going to look at me selling 400,000 copies as a loss. I'd rather lose on my own label like that, you know what I mean. So it was the process of getting out the deal, the process of getting a distribution deal and one that's suitable for me, one that generates the right amount of attention as well as the assets…”
Now that Def Jam is under new management, hopefully that will show new direction. With The Dream behind the wheel, being an artist, there might be an opening now for him to actually put work into artists instead of trying to have one or two artists run the whole company and generate all of the funds. At the end of the day, everything is politics so only time will tell which way the ship will sail with a new captain.