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Images courtesy of Universal Music Group.

Def Jam Africa Launches in South Africa and Nigeria

Def Jam Africa launches with a roster of South African and Nigerian hip-hop and Afrobeats artists.

Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Def Jam Africa, a new label division within the continent dedicated to representing the best hip-hop and Afrobeats talent on the continent. According to a press release from UMG, Def Jam Africa will "follow the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, which has led and influenced the cutting-edge in hip-hop and urban culture for more than 35 years."

The label will initially be based in two of the continent's main music and entertainment hubs Joburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, but will identify and sign artist talent from across the entire continent.

Def Jam Africa launches with a roster that includes some of the most successful African talent including Nigeria's Larry Gaaga and Vector alongside South Africa's Boity, Cassper Nyovest, Nadia Nakai, Nasty C, Tshego, Tellaman and Ricky Tyler. A majority of who were already signed to UMG.

Read: 8 Things You Need to Know About Nasty C's Upcoming Album 'Zulu Man With Some Power'

This roster will be supported by dedicated A&R, marketing, creative and digital teams from the UMG teams in both Nigeria and South Africa and will report to Sipho Dlamini, the MD of Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.

Dlamini shared in a press release that the aim for Def Jam Africa is to become the authentic and trusted home of hip-hop and urban culture in Africa. "Def Jam Recordings has always historically pushed the boundaries of the genre," he said, "and we are excited to create a new community of artists within the continent, shaped around the unique and multi-cultural sounds, rhythms and productions coming from our streets, in order to help elevate hip-hop, afrobeat and trap music from Africa, to reach new global audiences within the continent, across the diaspora and beyond."

Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO for Def Jam Recordings said:

"Def Jam is a globally recognized brand, synonymous with excellence in hip-hop, and we enthusiastically welcome the launch of Def Jam Africa as an opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging from across the continent."

Earlier this year, Nasty C announced he would be releasing his third studio album Zulu Man With Some Power through Def Jam Recordings which was a joint venture with Universal Music Africa. New releases from the Def Jam Africa should be expected this year.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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