Def Jam’s New Top Man Defends Nas’s LP Title Switch, Says He’s Not Jay-Z’s Replacement

Shakir Stewart was appointed to the top post at Def Jam Recordings, but he wants to make it clear he’s not replacing Jay-Z.

“I was appointed as the Executive Vice President of Def Jam and what we put out was simply that,” Stewart told XXLmag.com. “I don’t look at it as replacement to Jay-Z. I think Jay-Z is, obviously, an iconic rapper, a good label president, and a good friend of mine. These are big shoes to fill for anyone to come in and say they’re replacing Jay-Z. I don’t lend any thought or attention to that.

“I need to come in there and build on the legacy that was there before me as well as the legacy I’m going to build in the future, and Jay-Z is a part of both of those,” he added.

Stewart cut his teeth as an A&R man in his 10-year music business career, signing Ciara, Young Jeezy, and Rick Ross notably, and if Jay-Z was a player’s coach to his artists as president, given his background as a rapper, Stewart said he’s a “music man,” in spite of his new duties to oversee day-to-day activities.

He plans to implement and oversee IDJ Television, a reality-based endeavor to showcase and break artists. And Stewart also plans to expand the new media ventures the label is involved in. But without hit records and superstars, he said, the ideas won’t amount to much.

Currently he’s in the studio wrapping up projects by LL Cool J and Young Jeezy. He also said Fabolous, Method Man, and Ghostface will be hitting the studio soon to work on new albums.

As the new top man at Def Jam, Stewart also defended Nas’ recent album title switch from the controversial name Nigger to now being untitled.

“The message of the album has not changed,” he said. “And I think that Nas has done an incredible job of speaking to the public through various forms, letting people know what the theme of this album is. Whether or not you see any letters on or off an album cover, does not dictate the substance in the music that your hear once you press play on that CD or iPod. And I think that Nas is taking his time and he’s crafted a masterpiece. I think that people will get two things out of it: they’ll be entertained and they’ll be educated. I think that’s necessary not only in today’s musical climate, but in the climate that we live in this word. There’s obviously some great dance music and some happy music, but there needs to be some music that touches the heart and souls of the people.

“I think there’s been so much talk about the title and this and that, it’s whatever with the title,” Stewart finished. “Let’s get into what his message is. And I think when people do that and really embrace that concept, I think that they’ll be pleased.”—Jayson Rodriguez

  • JAY STONE

    BE A NIGGER TOO is the shit.
    No doubt NIGGER is gonna be a masterpiece.
    Cop L.A.X and NIGGER when they drop.

  • dameSTATUS

    Shake reppin’ The Town (Oakland), Barack reppin’ the Black Man, Lakers reppin’ the West Coast…

    It’s a Beautiful Day…..

  • Phil

    Hmmm, big whoop-de-frickin’-do. Def Jam will never be like it was. LA Reid turned the world’s biggest Hip-Hop label into a damn boutique R&B manufacturing plant! The infrastructure that actually created the brand doesn’t even exist! Def Jam is a great home for R&B, but Hip-Hop’s been kicked out like a bad stepchild.

    • game over

      Your facts are totally wrong…Def Jam has plenty of rap artists, from veterans like LL, Redman, and Meth to new jacks like Young Jeezy and Rick Ross. While the last albums from LL, Red and Meth sold relatively poorly (add Ghost too), they are all still signed to the label (LL will be going soon though).

      Rihanna, Ne-Yo, and The Dream have been successful, but Def Jam remains primarily a HIP-HOP label.

      The real problem at Def Jam is its inability to market hip-hop artists FROM NEW YORK…especially when it comes to breaking new artists. Def Jam hasn’t broken a new artist from New York since Ja Rule…

      • game over

        The last Nas record did as well as Nas usually does, but I think it could have sold even more with a bit more push. Dre gave Nas some HEAT.

      • http://differentkitchen.blogspot.com/ ian

        > The real problem at Def Jam is its inability to market hip-hop artists FROM NEW YORK…especially when it comes to breaking new artists. Def Jam hasn’t broken a new artist from New York since Ja Rule…

        Which label has broken any new MCs from NYC since 50 came on the scene? I’m not even sure its Def Jam’s fault – NY is the coldest hip hop market in the country, period! Totally out of sync with what’s going on in hip hop in 2008.

        • $ykotic

          So who do we blame? The artist pool(c’mon NY has at least 3 million mcs), or the labels, who are trying to emulate the “recent” billboard success stories?

          By the way the last “broken” mc was MIMS(Washington Heights). And ONLY because he sounded like the early snap music of ATL.

          TOO MUCH FOLLOWING AND “SWAG JACKING” AND NOT ENOUGH LEADERSHIP AND DIVERSITY.

          When an unknown label can out gain a powerhouse like Def Jam(maybe Russell needs to come back???) then you know the game is twisted.

          Hip Hop needs change like Obama. REAL TALK.

          p.s. L.A. Reid F@$#ked up the best hip hop label ever. Dudes would cry when Def Jam came calling.

  • Monta Ellis

    dameSTATUS: shouldn’t you be a Warriors fan?

  • fred

    def jam needs to stop being so biased and implement balance and start getting some acts from different regions other than the east coast and the south…check the bay area
    myspace.com/thebayliens

  • http://croca.com Crocca PDX

    “There’s obviously some great dance music and some happy music, but there needs to be some music that touches the heart and souls of the people…”

    Hip Hop is going to be morphing into a new era soon and I think Stewart has the right idea here. People are looking for some meaning in the midst of all this bullshit. Ya know? That X-tra Regular nonsense isn’t gonna be respected when time are like this.

    • $ykotic

      Real talk.

      Cause there should be no way Ghostface can’t sell 100k +. And hopefully he will get that Jada project going(if Jigga didn’t snatch him up).

      Good luck homes. We will be watching!

      503!

  • changeman

    ayo that’s what up. At least this guy can get past the cd name and just go with the music content. Thank you. I’m wit him i don’t care if he would have named the cd kill the white man i’d still buy it because nigga’s is sensitive now in days and it’s just a word and I would never say it to someone who was black regardless weather i meant it in a positive way. Cause like nas says We all some Nigga’s. Cop that Nigger, L.A.X., King Mathers, Detox, & D12 new album. and yeah get weezy but we all know that one. haha

  • Worley

    “He also said Fabolous, Method Man, and Ghostface will be hitting the studio soon to work on new albums.”

    So long as he supports Nas and Ghostface in the long run, dude is fine by me.

  • Prophecy_Projectz

    Ultimatley what he says will be seen in the next month as Def Jam gears up to promote the CD.

  • Pingback: dizi » Blog Archive » 06/04/08 - Def Jam’s New Top Man Defends Nas’s LP Title Switch

  • Pingback: Daily Recap - 6/4/08 at SNICKA.com

  • Oak land’s finest

    he used to wear bow ties…..fucks wit him doe.

  • Pingback: dizi » Blog Archive » 06/04/08 - Def Jam New Top Man Defends Nas LP Title Switch

  • Smarten Up Nas

    NAS LOST! Nas buckled under pressure whenn the white man “DEMANDED” he change the album title.

  • adrian smith

    def jam do not fuck up nas nigger album

  • 11kap

    every song on the radio is from the south now. I guess you have to blame clear channel and radio one for that, and the record labels [def jam] follow. otherwise, they ain’t making any money.

  • http://www.hip-hopkings.com Stu

    I hope dude is right about NaS, im really looking forward to the album.

  • Pingback: XXLmag.com | Hip-Hop On A Higher Level | » NEWS: Nas Sets July 15 Date For Untitled Album