Def Jam South

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Def Jam South
Parent companyUniversal Music Group
Founded1999; 25 years ago (1999)
FounderRussell Simmons
Defunct2012 (2012)
GenreSouthern hip hop
Country of originUnited States
LocationNew York City, New York

Def Jam South was a music division of Def Jam Recordings. The label focused primarily on southern acts. It was best known for launching the career of Ludacris and his own imprint, Disturbing tha Peace. In 2004, following the signing of Young Jeezy and hip-hop's overdominance of trap music, the division was folded into Def Jam.[citation needed]

Company history[edit]


In the late 1990s, hip hop's main popularity moved from West Coast hip hop and East Coast hip hop to Southern hip hop. Co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, Russell Simmons, wanted to capitalize off of the success of southern rap. He recruited Scarface, a southern rap legend and former member of the Geto Boys to be the head of the label and, by 1999, the label was established.[1] Later that year, a former Atlanta DJ named Chris Luva Luva began rapping under the moniker Ludacris and released his debut solo album, Incognegro, independently on his own record label Disturbing tha Peace. Scarface listened to the album while visiting Atlanta and made a deal to distribute Ludacris and his DTP imprint through Def Jam.[2] Ludacris became one of the biggest stars in the southern hip hop market and would lead the Def Jam South division to great heights with the releases of Back for the First Time (2000), Word of Mouf (2001) and Chicken-N-Beer (2003). Scarface would end up releasing only one album under Def Jam South, The Fix, in August 2002, as he left the label for Rap-A-Lot Records soon after.[3] Following this, Universal Music Group could not afford to finance the label's division anymore, due to the ongoing music piracy crisis, so on, Def Jam South was folded into the master generality of Def Jam Recordings in 2004, as they were in the process of signing then-newcomer Young Jeezy.[citation needed]

"Unofficial" revival (2005)[edit]

In the summer of 2005, Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy would release his debut album, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. It would later go platinum and claim a so-called "revival" of the label.[citation needed] In 2009, DJ Khaled was named president of Def Jam South.[4][5] DJ Khaled left Def Jam South in 2011 after his label, We the Best Music, would be a part of Cash Money Records, a division of Def Jam's sister Universal Music label, Republic Records. There has been no official releases under Def Jam South, as of 2022.[citation needed]

Despite the shutdown, an official Spotify playlist exists under the label's profile with the division name, included with songs by Ludacris, Jeezy and recent Def Jam signees Fredo Bang and Kaash Paige.[6]

Former artists[edit]



  1. ^ Archive-Ronin-Ro. "Scarface Named Head Of Def Jam South". MTV News. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  2. ^ "Ludacris Lives His Dream". Los Angeles Times. 2001-03-22. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  3. ^ Samuel, S. (2010-04-22). "Scarface Talks Leaving Def Jam South Head Position, "I Was Long Gone Before Jay-Z Took Over" [Audio]". Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  4. ^ "DJ Khaled Named President Of Def Jam South". HipHopDX. 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  5. ^ "DJ Khaled Wants Hits – Not Beef – As President Of Def Jam South". Shaheem Reid. MTV Networks. February 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  6. ^ "Def Jam South - playlist by Def Jam Recordings - Spotify". Spotify. Retrieved 2022-04-09.