…[As] a traditional record label DEF JUX will effectively be put on hiatus. We are not closing, but we are changing. The process is already underway, and the last several months (for those wondering what the hell we’ve been up to) have been spent dealing with the technical aspects of wrapping up the label in it’s current form and re-imagining our collective and individual futures.
In 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so and I find myself yearning for something else to put my energy into. I also see newer, smarter, more interesting things on the horizon for the way art and commerce intersect, and as an artist and an entrepreneur, I’m eager to see them unfold. The evolution of this industry is, in my opinion, exciting, inevitable and it would be nice to see the DEFINITIVE JUX brand be a part of it. In other words, maybe we can turn this hoopty in to a hovercraft.
After over 10 years of existence, Definite Jux (formerly Def Jux) records is, according to founder/rapper El-P, officially on hiatus. The company, which has released some of the most seminal underground hip-hop records from the likes of El-P himself, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, RJD2, Murs and Del The Funky Homosapien, will continue to sell it’s catalogue and even release one final record, Camu Tao’s posthumous “King Of Hearts,” alongside a 10th anniversary compilation/retrospective album. As the quote above explains, though the company is not 100% shut down, where the future will take the company is up in the air, but one thing could be said for sure, the music industry is losing one of the greatest indie hip hop record labels to ever be.
For this blogger, my relationship with the genre of hip-hop has always been a little rocky. Through my high school years, the genre itself was a four-letter word, and even the idea of enjoying a hip hop record would be the most foreign concept in my mind. While it would be Public Enemy’s “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” that would smack me into reality and understand that there was thoughtful, well done hip hop that wasn’t the top 40 cookie cutter that filled the radio waves, I will always recall the first time El-P’s “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead” and finally, for a lack of a better term, getting it. The production so polished yet ultimately raw, the delivery as biting and passionate as the blistering beats beneath it. This was the rap record I was dying to discover, yet never knew I was looking for.
While Stones Throw’s releases, marred in layers of samples and heavy jazz influences, and anticons outright weirdness would never pull me completely into the indie hip-hop world (my appreciation for the work of Madvillian and J-Dilla aside), Def Jux records was always the source I’d go to for an appropriate hip-hop fix I needed in my life. Will this be the end of all the artists Def Jux brought into my conciousness, in this day and age thats an obvious no, but there is still room to mourn the end of a movement, or in this case, an indefinent hiatus.