Def Jam is known for ushering in a slew of iconic rap acts to the game: LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Slick Rick, Redman, and DMX, just to name a few. But the historic label was not the first to sign a number of their biggest stars. Recently, Big Boi announced on Twitter that his long delayed solo album, Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty will have a Def Jam logo on its CD sleeve. With that in mind, XXLMag.com has compiled a list of some of the most notable MCs to have another home before jumping ship for the house that Russel and Rick built. Peep game…
People forget that before joining Def Jam’s roster in 1997 with In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, Jiggaman initially dropped his seminal LP, Reasonable Doubt, through Priority Records.
Nasty Nas didn’t join L.A. Reid’s lineup until 2006’s Hip-Hop Is Dead—12 years after his classic debut Illmatic. Since then the Queenbridge lyricist has released one more album for Def Jam, 2008’s controversial Nigger N disc.
Along with God’s Son, Jay-Z recruited the world famous Roots crew to DJ back in 2006 when he was at the helm. Since then Black Thought, ?uestlove and company have released two albums, 2006’s Game Theory and 2008’s Rising Down.
Ghost left Sony and joined his Wu-Tang brethren Method Man on the label in 2004. Since signing, the Shaolin dartsmith has put out nearly one new disc per year, including 2004’s The Pretty Toney Album, 2006’s Fishscale and More Fish, 2007’s The Big Doe Rehab, and 2009’s Ghostdini: the Wizard of Poetry, along with 2010′s Wu-Massacre with rap partners Meth and Raekwon.
Although label co-founder Russell Simmons, was Rev.’s brother, Run-D.M.C. was always signed to Profile. Yet, in 2005, when the rap vet decided to go the solo route, Def Jam was his label of choice.
Def Jam got Fab in a trade with Atlantic Records for Musiq Soulchild in 2007. Since being added to the team the BK MC scored several hit records, as well as Billboard No. 1 and No. 2 albums, respectively, for 2007’s Nuthin’ to Somethin’ and 2009’s Loso’s Way.
While locked up, Def Jam came out the victor in a huge bidding war to sign former Bad Boy rapper Shyne. In 2004 the label dropped Godfather Buried Alive to poor sales, yet L.A. Reid recently resigned Po, following the deported rapper’s completion of his eight-year jail sentence.
Southern rap legend ’Face released only one album with Def Jam, 2002’s The Fix, which is also arguably his best solo effort to date.
Dame Dash brought Killa Cam and his Dipset crew into the Def Jam fold through Roc-A-Fella in 2002. The Harlem rapper only released two solo discs on the label—2002’s Come Home With Me and 2004’s Purple Haze.
Before bouncing last year, Jay-Z brought Jada to the team. The former Interscope MC’s The Last Kiss dropped last April on Def Jam.
Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith got down with Def Jam in 1990, after leaving former home Priority. The duo went on to put out four group albums with Def Jam, 1990’s Business as Usual, 1992’s Business Never Personal, 1997’s’s Back in Business and 1999’s Out of Business.