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Stormzy signs to 0207 Def Jam

By | Published on Tuesday 1 December 2020

L-R: Tobe Onwuka (Stormzy’s manager), Alec Boateng (co-president, 0207 Def Jam), Sir Lucian Grainge (Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group), Alex Boateng (co-president, 0207 Def Jam) and David Joseph (Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK).

Universal’s new 0207 Def Jam label has announced its first signing. It’s quite a big one. It’s pretty much downhill from now on to be honest. Because they’ve only gone and bagged Stormzy.

He, of course, worked with Warner on his first two albums – signing with Atlantic Records in the process – while the mini-major’s label services division ADA also distributes the rapper’s Merky label.

The all new 0207 Def Jam label was launched last week, headed up by twin brothers Alex and Alec Boateng – the latter of whom was, until recently, co-head of A&R at Atlantic. That’s probably not a coincidence, is it? And it makes the hire a very good decision for Universal right off the bat. Bagging the UK’s biggest rapper is not just a coup for the major, but also a big vote of confidence for the new UK Def Jam spin-off.

Last week, Jeff Harleston, who heads up Def Jam in the US, said: “It is a perfect fit having Alex and Alec at the helm of 0207 Def Jam. Their creativity, artist relationships, and connection with culture are all key elements that have made Def Jam such an important label for over 35 years. I have no doubt that Alex, Alec and their team will only make the label and the brand even stronger”.

How soon we can expect new music from Stormzy isn’t clear – his second album, ‘Heavy Is the Head’, was released just under a year ago. There were three years between his first two albums. Presumably Universal will want him to hurry things along a bit third time around.