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Def Jam to Publish 300-Page Label History

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Seminal rap label Def Jam is preparing to publish a memoir of its own storied history, with the humbly-titled ‘Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label.’

The 304-page tome is written by hip-hop legend Bill Adler and writer Dan Charnas, with prefaces by Def Jam titans Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles, and will be published by Rizzoli in September.

“In the streets, the Def Jam logo was more potent than a police badge. It presented us with a previously unimaginable vision of self-empowerment and entrepreneurialism,” Liles says, of the label’s significance.

“If the amazing success of hip-hop — and Def Jam in particular — has taught me anything, it’s that the most powerful cultural forces are actually accidental mutations sprung from creativity and necessity, rather than carefully plotted movements,” adds Cohen.

In addition to the label’s founders and executives mentioned, ‘Def Jam Recordings’ features commentary by rap icons Chuck D, Ice-T, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Ludacris, Kanye West, Rev. Run and many more.

The hardcover book will also feature 250 color and black-and-white photographs from throughout the revered record label’s history, captured by some of the era’s best known lensmen — and women — including Glen E. Friedman, Ricky Powell, Ernie Paniccioli, Annie Liebovitz and Jonathan Mannion.

‘Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label’ will hit shelves in September 2011.


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