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Def Jam Recordings is a comprehensive history of the first major hip-hop label. Founded by Russell ‘Rush’ Simmons and Rick Rubin in 1984, the label’s first office was Rubin’s NYU dorm room. Def Jam led the way in transforming hip-hop from a projects-based art form to a popular phenomenon. Def Jam is responsible for launching and sustaining the careers of musicians such as Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys. Both Simmons and Rubin have now left Def Jam to pursue successful careers in and away from music; but their creative legacy remains at the heart of the label's modern-day identity.


LIVE from the NYPL is made possible with generous support from Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

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