Def Jam, Inc.: Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, and the Extraordinary Story of the World’s Most Inf

In the early ‘80s, the music industry wrote off hip-hop as a passing fad. Few could or would have predicted that the improvised raps and raw beats busting out of New York City’s urban underclass would one day become a multimillion-dollar business and one of music’s most lucrative genres.

Among those few were two visionaries: Russell Simmons, a young black man from Hollis, Queens, and Rick Rubin, a Jewish kid from Long Island. Though the two came from different backgrounds, their all-consuming passion for hip-hop brought them together. Soon they would revolutionize the music industry with their groundbreaking label, Def Jam Records.

Def Jam, Inc. traces the company’s incredible rise from the NYU dorm room of nineteen-year-old Rubin (where LL Cool J was discovered on a demo tape) to the powerhouse it is today; from financial struggles and scandals–including The Beastie Boys’s departure from the label and Rubin’s and Simmons’s eventual parting–to revealing anecdotes about artists like Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Foxy Brown, Jay-Z, and DMX.

Stacy Gueraseva, former editor in chief of Russell Simmons’s magazine, Oneworld, had access to the biggest players on the scene, and brings you real conversations and a behind-the-scenes look from a decade–and a company–that turned the music world upside down. She takes you back to New York in the ‘80s, when late-night spots such as Danceteria and Nell’s were burning with young, fresh rappers, and Simmons and Rubin had nothing but a hunch that they were on to something huge.

Far more than just a biography of the two men who made it happen, Def Jam, Inc. is a journey into the world of rap itself. Both an intriguing business history as well as a gritty narrative, here is the definitive book on Def Jam–a must read for any fan of hip-hop as well as all popular-culture junkies.

From the Hardcover edition.In the early ‘80s, the music industry wrote off hip-hop as a passing fad. Few could or would have predicted that the improvised raps and raw beats busting out of New York City’s urban underclass would one day become a multimillion-dollar business and one of music’s most lucrative genres.

Among those few were two visionaries: Russell Simmons, a young black man from Hollis, Queens, and Rick Rubin, a Jewish kid from Long Island. Though the two came from different backgrounds, their all-consuming passion for hip-hop brought them together. Soon they would revolutionize the music industry with their groundbreaking label, Def Jam Records.

Def Jam, Inc. traces the company’s incredible rise from the NYU dorm room of nineteen-year-old Rubin (where LL Cool J was discovered on a demo tape) to the powerhouse it is today; from financial struggles and scandals–including The Beastie Boys’s departure from the label and Rubin’s and Simmons’s eventual parting–to revealing anecdotes about artists like Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Foxy Brown, Jay-Z, and DMX.

Stacy Gueraseva, former editor in chief of Russell Simmons’s magazine, Oneworld, had access to the biggest players on the scene, and brings you real conversations and a behind-the-scenes look from a decade–and a company–that turned the music world upside down. She takes you back to New York in the ‘80s, when late-night spots such as Danceteria and Nell’s were burning with young, fresh rappers, and Simmons and Rubin had nothing but a hunch that they were on to something huge.

Far more than just a biography of the two men who made it happen, Def Jam, Inc. is a journey into the world of rap itself. Both an intriguing business history as well as a gritty narrative, here is the definitive book on Def Jam–a must read for any fan of hip-hop as well as all popular-culture junkies.

From the Hardcover edition.

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3 Responses to “Def Jam, Inc.: Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, and the Extraordinary Story of the World’s Most Inf”

  • Mr. Weed "Chad" says:
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A must read for any avid fan or musician in the industry…, May 9, 2006
    By 
    Mr. Weed “Chad” (Ohizzle) –

    Rarely do you find a book about the history of the music industry that actually works to make you feel as if you are a part of what is going on. DEF JAM INC. by Stacy Gueraseva is an inspirational take on the creation of not only a new breed of record label, but the ushering in of a completely mindblowing era of music, musicians and moguls. Being a musician I was utterly inspired by this insiders perspective on the rise, fall and subsequent resurrection of the legendary DEF JAM label. The reader is immediately drawn into the lives of this incredible cast of “real-life” characters… You will feel as if you’re in that cramped NYU dorm room with Rick and his crew while he’s cooking up his scheme for releasing music for and by the local hip-hop DJ. You’ll be there in the clubs with Mr. Russell Simmons, hard working and smooth-talking his way to the top. DEF JAM INC. gives you never before seen insight into the heart of the label during it’s tough starts and shows the industry from the artist’s perspective in ways I’ve yet to experience elsewhere. Without ruining the read, I just have to say, if you love great music and want to know where hip-hop came from, DEF JAM INC. is an invaluable tool on the path to hip-hop enlightenment… A musician’s must have.

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  • Braden Radtke says:
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Must for any hip hop head, April 20, 2006
    By 

    You may claim to have a fairly good knowledge and progression of hip-hop, but until you read this book, you are just kidding yourself. Lots of people can tell ya that Def Jam started in an NYU dorm room by Simmons and Rubin. This book isn’t just the dull historical tale of how that came to be the dominant hip-hop label we know today. It really delves into the personalities surrounding Def Jam, the environment, and the great stories. The stories are what made the book for me. Hearing the crazy stunts the Beasties pulled on tour, the bizarre things DMX would say to any certain situation, and more, make this a fun, yet productive read. Def Jam was really a centerpiece for hip-hop and this book helps put a lot of things in perspective.

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  • Deanna Clark says:
    3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A terrific “how they did it” book, October 1, 2005
    By 
    Deanna Clark (Detroit, Michigan) –

    Engaging, first-hand stories from a couple of guys who had a dream and made it happen – not just reportage, but real conversations interspersed with background information and tons of pics – what’s not to like? Stacy Gueraseva’s deft interweaving makes Def Jam Inc. eminently readable. Anyone who has ever listened to a record and wondered what it took to get that record into stores will love this book.

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