Featured Session: Def Jam Renewed: The Hip-Hop Legend’s Next 40 Years – SXSW 2024

Celebrating 40 Years of Def Jam

Insights from SXSW 2024

The SXSW 2024 Conference set the stage for a remarkable celebration of Def Jam Recordings' 40th anniversary. Placed within the Music Careers track, the Featured Session Def Jam Renewed: The Hip-Hop Legend’s Next 40 Years offered attendees a deep dive into the iconic label's history, its current position, and its future. The session was graced by influential figures from within the industry, including Chuck D of Public Enemy, multi-faceted rapper Lady London, and Tunji Balogun, CEO of Def Jam Recordings, with Brian Biniak of Bandcamp as the moderator.

“I think in this era, technology is bringing creatives closer together and I think it’s breaking down walls. And hopefully in the future, we’ll have a more connected global conversation of creatives and music and artists. You can see and hear how different genres are influencing one another. Hip hop is in every genre now.” – Tunji Balogun

Chuck D, known for his groundbreaking work, shared insights into the essence of hip-hop and the pivotal role of talent evaluation in shaping its landscape. He emphasized the need for a strong ecosystem surrounding the artistry, similar to what exists in sports, where individuals outside the game contribute significantly to its strength. Chuck D emphasized, "What hip-hop needs and what the Def Jams need is like a whole bunch of people that are able to evaluate the talent... In music, we need a lot of people that’s outside of the artistry who are favored to sell the game."

Lady London, an artist under Def Jam Recordings, provided a glimpse into her multifaceted approach to her career. Beyond her role as a rapper, Lady London envisions herself as a brand, embracing various facets of creativity and entrepreneurship. Reflecting on her journey, she shared, "...as I began to cultivate not only my career but the foresight I have for myself in the next ten to twenty years, I was like, I would love to be a brand. Beyond my own artistry, brands are forever. I’m not one-dimensional; I’m not just a rapper. I’m all of these things that make up Lady London."

Join the dialogue on the past, present, and future of Def Jam Recordings and gain a deeper appreciation for the visionaries driving its legacy forward. Watch the full Featured Session Def Jam Renewed: The Hip-Hop Legend’s Next 40 Years below.

Def Jam Renewed: The Hip-Hop Legend’s Next 40 Years | SXSW Conference

A panel commemorating Def Jam Recordings' 40th anniversary will delve into the label's roots and pivotal decisions, showcasing its global impact and innovative role in hip-hop culture. Explore how Def Jam's diverse artist roster and groundbreaking promotion strategies have solidified its position as a cultural powerhouse.


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Photos by Vanessa Velasquez & Natalie Guillot

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