Late to the party, late to the wake

Def Jux is saying….uh something not good. This week, CEO, artists and amazing performer El-P basically laid out the future of Def Jux, saying the premium independent hip hop label was going on a hiatus as it reorganized.

This, for many fans is sad. Def Jux was a lot of people’s connection into the Hip Hop world. Indie Rock fans, turned off by the corporate sheen of mainstream hip hop found something engaging in the Def Jux roster. It’s approach to branding while heavily influenced by hip hop history, was also tied very closely to punk rock origins. I think of Def Jux as being closer to Dischord, Jade Tree and SST in there respective heydays. Every release Def Jux put out was something you had to at least check out. Plus there trifecta of Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock and head honcho El-P were unstoppable. The best tracks on I, Phantom, Bazooka Tooth and Fantastic Damage were unreal. The way those three different personalities hit the songs they shared was a kick to the face of the rest of the hip hop.

Least we forget Cannibal Ox. If you do not know CanOX, you don’t know shit about hip-hop. The Cold Vein fucks your mind, body, head and soul. Vordul Mega and Vast Aire backed again by the genius of El-P made a work of art that is still so fresh and beyond what anyone in music, let alone hip hop has done since it’s 2001 release. I don’t care how long you’ve listened to hip hop, how many records you have, how many shows you’ve seen, if The Cold Vein isn’t in your collection, you are fake as fuck.

Seeing Aesop Rock and El-P live in 2007 and 2008 were some of the best shows I’ve ever checked. Hangar 18 killed it so hard with their track Bakin‘ Soda that I made two friends go see them in Chicago in ’08. Cool Calm Pete killed it for us. Cage frightened us. Camu Tao, never got a record out before he past on this year, but 2010 will see his album. Shit, Def Jux brought Dizze Rascal from England and even put out the first Del album in over a decade too. They were unstoppable.

So to see that they are stopping, even for a small spell is shocking and sad. I’ve only begun to start branching out to other labels, but none of them have the appeal, camaraderie or talent that Def Jux had. I don’t like this shit at all.

So to Def Jux, thank you. You are a rare label, one that I could get behind, support and be proud to be a fan off. I felt an affinity for what you did. I hope this is not good bye, but just a down time. Hip Hop needs you, but bigger than that, the music business needs you. Peace.

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