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Def Jam Upgrades A&R Department, Announces New Deals

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As Def Jam continues its reboot under new chairman/CEO Paul Rosenberg, the label today made a series of announcements surrounding its A&R department. Steven Victor, Def Jam’s executive vp/head of A&R, revealed that Noah Preston has been promoted to senior vp A&R, while Alexander “AE” Edwards has joined the team as a vp A&R. In addition, Victor and Edwards signed a record deal with Jacksonville, Florida’s YK Osiris, and Def Jam inked a joint partnership with producer Ronny J and his Listen Up Forever Records.

The executive moves are some of the most significant since Victor officially shifted over to Def Jam full time from his previous A&R position within the Universal Music Group last October, and are the latest in the new-look top ranks at the iconic hip-hop label. Rosenberg, who officially began his reign at the turn of this year, has also brought on Loud Records co-founder Rich Isaacson as his general manager, hired former Complex chief content officer Noah Callahan-Bever as executive vp in charge of revamping the label’s branding efforts, and elevated longtime promotions veteran Nicki Farag to the top spot in the promotions department, which made her the first woman in the label’s 30-plus year history to hold that position.

Regarding the moves announced today, Victor struck an optimistic tone. “Our industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace but music and artistry will always remain at its core,” he said in a statement. “I’m excited about the direction, energy and creative conversations we are having here at the label and within the creative communities. The A&R team we are building continues Def Jam’s legacy of discovering and developing some of the greatest talent in the world, setting us up for a successful future.”

That future will involve an expanded role for Preston, who started at Def Jam nearly a decade ago, in 2009, and has since signed Grammy-nominated MC Logic — whose Bobby Tarantino II project debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in March — and worked closely with Jhené Aiko on her albums for the label.

“Def Jam is an incredibly supportive environment that truly nurtures creative talent,” Preston said in a statement. “Def Jam has afforded me the opportunity to work with artists I am passionate about, along with a team I am truly fortunate to work with. I appreciate and thank Paul Rosenberg and Steven Victor for allowing me to continue my future here at this great label.”

The joint venture with Ronny J’s Listen Up Forever Records will cover the producer — who has made a name for himself as the man behind tracks by Lil Pump, XXXTentacion and Smokepurpp — as he steps out from behind the boards as an artist in his own right, having just released his first mixtape OMGRONNY. Meanwhile, Oakland native Edwards, the label’s new A&R man, who has worked with Tyga and his Last Kings Records in the past, helped sign 18-year-old YK Osiris alongside Victor.

“Both Steven Victor and Paul Rosenberg built their careers developing artists, so it’s exciting for me to be part of a legendary label that understands artists and the culture,” Edwards said in a statement. “I was raised by the culture; I was influenced and impacted by it. We have the opportunity to sign and develop important, cultural artists based not only on ‘likes’ but on instinct; to look past the data and recognize something special. It’s a super exciting time to be here at Def Jam.”  Source: Billboard


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