If you haven't noticed, 2009 is a pretty big year for Def Jam Recordings. And it's not because they're home to some of the biggest names in pop music (Rihanna, Kanye West, The Dream). The iconic label that put rap on the mainstream map turns 25 this year, an anniversary that's being commemorated by a special CD box set and last night's VH1 Hip-Hop Honors tribute.
Well, as any fan of Def Jam's amazing musical catalog can attest, last night's event left a lot to be desired. Even Russell Simmons is rumored to be pissed about the half-assed production. But regardless of how dissapointing it was, it probably wasn't the most embarassing moment in the label's history. Take a look back at 10 moments that Def Jam probably wishes they could forget...
EMBARRASSMENT: 3rd Bass Disses Lyor Cohen On Debut Album
WHAT: As the story goes, when 3rd Bass was signed to Def Jam, label head Lyor Cohen had little to no faith in MC Serch's group finding success. So they did all that they could do and took their beef and frustrations to wax with a bunch of veiled disses including one on their hit "The Gas Face": "Elroy Cohen gets the gas face."
EMBARRASSMENT: Signing The Flatlinerz
WHAT: Nepotism at it's worst. Uncle Russell claims he didn't sign his nephew's group to the label and that it was in fact Jam Master Jay that signed Jamal "Redrum" Simmons' horrorcore group after he was convinced that a darker, more sinister form of rap was the future. Either way, it came out on Def Jam and it flopped.
EMBARRASSMENT: BO$$ Not Actually Born Gangster.
WHAT: After her debut album hit #1 on the Hip Hop charts, we all thought the Detroit reared MC was going to carve out her own lane in the game. Well, we did until she foolishly blabbed to the Wall Street Journal that she actually wasn't gangster at all, grew up in a middle class family and went to private school. Pretty... pretty... pretty dumb.
EMBARRASSMENT: Beastie Boys Put Russel Simmons On Blast
WHAT: We all knew Russel Simmons was skimming off the top (every great businessman does) but we didn't really know until NYC's favorite white boy's put big homie on blast with a line off Ill Communication: "Got fat bass lines like Russell Simmons steals money."
EMBARRASSMENT: Keith Murray Allegedly Attacks Def Jam Employees
WHAT: When Keith Murray signed to Def Jam after serving 33 months he thought it'd be smooth sailing. So we can kinda see why he flipped out when his album He's Keith Murray was shelved for two years. We're not saying he should have choked or even threatened to choke out DJ employees, but we understand.
EMBARRASSMENT: Irv Gotti & Ja Rule Arrested For Money Laundering
WHAT: It was the hip hop Pinocchio story: Ever since they broke into the rap industry Irv and Ja wanted nothing more than to be real G's. They got their chance in 2003 when the Feds came knocking with charges of them laundering money for a supposed drug ring. It didn't help that Murder Inc's marquee artist was having his career dismantled by 50 Cent. You know what they say: when it rains, it pours.
EMBARRASSMENT: Dame Dash Yells At Def Jam Employees On Camera
WHAT: After learning that Def Jam brass held a meeting regarding Jay-Z's "Black Album" without Roc-A-Fella's CEO, Dame Dash bursts into one of their meetings and let's 'em know how he really feels. You thought Dame blacking on Kevin Liles was emasculating, imagine how DJ employee Randy Ackerman felt when Dame took aim and aired out his dirty laundry. Now the whole building knows he gets slapped around by rappers not named Dame Dash.
EMBARRASSMENT: The Entire Roc La Familia Roster
WHAT: During his tenure as President of Def Jam, Jay-Z made some extremely questionable business moves, none of them more flagrantly bad as the formation of his Latino off-shoot label. The idea itself wasn't horrible; the signee's were. The worst being the Houston, Texas bred rapper, Aztek Escobar.
EMBARRASSMENT: Nas "Untitled" Album Name Fiasco.
WHAT: Nas first took an L by signing to Def Jam under the Jigga's presidency, he then took another one when he boasted about recording this revolutionary and militant album that was to be named "Nigger". After promoting the album at award show's with t-shirts bearing the album name and L.A. Reid saying the label fully supported him, Nas was forced to change the title right before it's release. To add insult to injury the album partly produced by Dead Prez was neither revolutionary nor gangster.
EMBARRASSMENT: Rick Ross Outed As A Former Correctional Officer
WHAT: The website Smoking Gun got their hands on some documents and photos showing that Platinum Def jam artist Rick Ross once worked as a correctional officer in Florida, making him the most ridiculed rapper of the year. Well, the second most, right behind Yung Berg.