Def Jam Vain-detta
Just when you think Def Jam and the Thimmontheth have played dead long enough to lose interest, the niggas find reanimation in the strangest of ways.
Def Jam’s gotten a strange whirlwind of press in the rapster chronicles this weekend. First, KRS-One goes off on one of his classic, amazingly insubstantial dissertations about how Def Jam is the worst shit ever to happen to hip-hop—at the threshold of Def Jam's big VH1 suckfest, no less.
[Blogger’s Note: Granted, The Teacher is right, but apparently has little idea why. Anybody got a pin to put in that one?]
On the heels of this outburst, I scour the Interwebs Nigga News (INN) to find Nas discussing the possibility of becoming Island Def Jam’s new village idiot. I understand this move for Nas’ sake, as being Island Def Jam’s latest rapper-ternt-pres-o-dent would likely give him the financial freedom needed to tear off and run from Kelis’ looming alimony/child support threat once and for all. However, I don’t understand such a move from the label's perspective.
Then again, I haven’t understood a Def Jam/Ruthh power play since 1996.
We’ve touched on this subject before here at Negro Please, but I might as well throw it down once more in non-industry speak. Just because you’re a great fry cook doesn’t mean you should be the nigga at the end of the long table in Conference Room A at McDonaldland corporate headquarters. This applies to Nas’ fan-turned-rival-turned-bawse-turned-homie, Jay-Z and the human Janet Jackson billboard before him.
To Jermaine Dupri’s credit, So So Def was a very successful and diverse imprint for a long time. But he’d gotten the Def Jam chair after having already sank the motherfucker. Also, I don’t know who’s at IDJ handing bottomless purse strings to niggas with bad credit.
That compulsive spending leprechaun couldn’t borrow my library card, let alone run my business. He’d probably try to charge a Bentley and a trip to Las Vegas on the motherfucker. But, I digress.
I’ve been a fan of Nas’ music since 1992 when I too was 12 and came back from Virginia for mushing my grandma-nana’s pastor upside the head. I even dig what he's talking about in his intentions to clean Def Jam up artistically from within—no Andreas Hale. Not only can you not expect idealism and altruism to reign supreme in the bowels of Corporate America, you also may not be able to avoid the pitfalls of vanity.
Why, Ronnie—whatever do you mean?
In 2005, Jay-Z made Def Jam into the biggest vanity label since, well, Roc-a-fella. He once again, on a much larger stage, showed the world he best knew how to make Jay-Z shine. The Carter Administration, ironically named after a one-term political failure and commemorated with an official seal, is unfortunately held to Jay-Z’s golden standard of self. I don’t know about you, but I remember the return of a rusty, tired-ass Washington Wizards Jordan instead of the #45 promised on Encore.
[Blogger’s Note: It’s like Jay-Z magically became himself again when he let go of the IDJ reigns. See: American Gangster]
Could Nas see past the opportunity to build a great palace of his own? Would he Memphis Bleek the clout and promotional might left in IDJ’s shell of its former self and throw it behind Jungle, Wiz, Nashawn the Millenium Thug and...
WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!! WTF?! THIS AIN’T LAKEY THE KIDD!!!
Nas is a great MC and musical talent, but doesn’t strike me as the cleanest weave in the kufi outside of his music. If such an offer is truly on the table, it’s yet another display of just how desperate and clueless Island Def Jam has become. Putting their best efforts into expensive promotional campaigns (for some) and video games and shit has taken precedence over actual product development for years now. In this vein, having a pretty figurehead to distract the public clearly means more to the legendary imprint than finding someone with the business experience and artistic understanding necessary to turn the shop around.
With all that said, I kinda can’t wait until it’s Gucci Mane’s turn to play with the steering wheel.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Whatever did happen to that Tru Life record? firstname.lastname@example.org