Profile: Tunji Balogun new CEO of America's Def Jam Records

Tunji Balogun takes over Dem Jam Recordings from January 2022

Tunji Balogun takes over Dem Jam Recordings from January 2022

Nigerian American Tunji Balogun hailed as one of the world’s most successful creative music executives today is moving higher in the industry.

From his present post as Vice President A&R for RCA Records, Balogun will become from January 2022, the chairman and CEO of Def Jam Recordings.

The firm is part of the Universal Music Group (UMG).

His appointment was announced on Tuesday by UMG, the world leader in music-based entertainment.

Balogun had worked with artists including Bryson Tiller, Childish Gambino, Goldlink, Khalid and Nigeria’s Wizkid among others, over his 17-year career.

His appointment marks a return to UMG where he served as an A&R executive at Interscope Records from 2007 to 2015.

In his new role, Balogun will be based in Los Angeles and report to UMG Chairman & CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge.

In making the announcement, Grainge said, “Tunji is part of a new wave of dynamic executives who view today’s artists and music through a unique creative lens.

“Not only does he bring a deep understanding and respect for the cultural significance of what Def Jam has created over the past four decades, but he also sees the boundless potential of what Def Jam can be to a new generation of artists and fans.”

Balogun, said: “I grew up on Def Jam’s music – collecting, listening to and studying their albums and singles – those early moments as a young fan have had a lasting influence on who I am today.

“Def Jam remains one of music’s most iconic brands and has always represented forward-thinking artists and partners that continue to shift ideas and impact culture around the world.

“I’m honoured to lead Def Jam into its next chapter and thank Lucian and Jeff for their support and this incredible opportunity.”

Jeffrey Harleston, UMG’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs, has also served as Def Jam’s interim Chairman & CEO, will continue to oversee the label until Balogun assumes his new role in January 2022.

Jeffrey Harleston said, “It has been an honour and a pleasure to lead and grow Def Jam over these past two years. Having had the privilege of working with Tunji for more than a decade,

“I couldn’t be happier to hand the reins over to him. Tunji has all the tools to take the Def Jam brand and artists to new levels of success.

“He has the vision. He has a track record of signing the best and brightest new talent who ‘move culture’ around the world and has always been an incredible advocate for artists.”

About Def Jam Recordings:

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Def Jam Recordings has been at the forefront of hip-hop music and culture for more than 35 years.

Founded in 1984, Def Jam began as a maverick independent label inspired by downtown New York City’s vibrant art scene and the emerging sound of hip-hop; pioneered by iconic stars like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.

Over the following two decades, Def Jam established its dominance with superstar acts and living legends like Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man & Redman, Ludacris, Rihanna, Jeezy, and the inimitable Kanye West.

Now in its fourth decade, Def Jam’s music and lifestyle has grown into a global brand – synonymous with creativity, quality and authenticity.

It encompasses a diverse roster of marquee and emerging stars like West, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Logic, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Jeremih, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz, Dave East, and Jhene Aiko, among many others.

Today, Def Jam has expanded its global brand reach to become the most-followed major label across all major social media platforms.

About Tunji Balogun

Born to Nigerian parents, Balogun grew up in the United states.

According to his bio published in LinkedIn, Balogun attended Deerfield College in Massachusetts where he obtained a diploma, between 1996 and 2000.

He then went to Pomona College between 2000-2004 to study for a bachelor of arts, media studies and sociology.

Balogun began his career as a marketing intern at Warner Brothers Records and was hired as an assistant at the label after he graduated from Pomona College in 2004.

He later held a position in A&R at Interscope, where he worked with artists signed through Bad Boy Entertainment and Shady Records, in addition to Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Keyshia Cole, One Republic, and others.

He joined RCA in 2015 as senior vice president of A&R, and was promoted to executive vice president in 2018.

At the time of his promotion, RCA announced that it had entered into a joint venture with Balogun, Courtney Stewart, Jon Tanners and Jared Sherman to establish Keep Cool.

The first artist signed to Keep Cool was Normani.

Balogun had signed or played an integral role in signing artists including Brockhampton, Childish Gambino, Goldlink, H.E.R., Khalid, SZA, Bryson Tiller, and Cozz.

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