Def Jam at 30: The Declarations of an Independent - 1984-1985

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of Def Jam Recordings. Now a long-established American brand, hailed as “the New York Yankees of hip-hop,” Def Jam has consistently fielded a Hall of Fame roster of artists. In the Eighties, that roster included LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and 3rd Bass. In the Nineties, it included Method Man, Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Ludacris, and DMX. In the 21st Century, it includes Kanye West, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, and Rihanna. Thirty years later, the label’s still going strong.

In celebration of this anniversary, the Cornell University Hip Hop Collection offers this look at 1984-85: Def Jam’s ground-breaking first year, told through rare and unique items from Bill Adler’s Hip Hop Archive.

View the online exhibition

Exhibition text by Bill Adler based on artifacts selected
from the Adler Hip Hop Archive.

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