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DEF JAM GOES SOUTH

New Atlanta-Based Imprint
To Develop Southern Acts
With the rap audience studying "Country Grammar" and increasingly embracing Southern-based artists, Def Jam is getting down in the Dirty South. The historic rap label introduced the Atlanta-based imprint Def Jam South earlier this year in hopes of developing and signing Southern acts to a glittering roster that boasts Platinum-plus hip-hop icons LL Cool J, Jay-Z and DMX.

In June, Island Def Jam President Lyor Cohen named rap veteran Scarface (Brad Jordan) President. Cohen is counting on 14-year veteran Scarface, a member of Houston's notorious Geto Boys and a Rap-A-Lot/Virgin solo recording artist in his own right, to lead them to some undiscovered regional talent, following in the footsteps of such local-focused labels as No Limit, Cash Money and Nelly's Fo' Real.

Said Cohen: "The South must be respected. We believe the South is critical to Def Jam's future, so say hello to my little friend." No, not that little friend…"

Scarface's first Def Jam South signing, Atlanta-based (by way of Chicago) rapper Ludacris, garnered tremendous regional success with an independent release on Disturbing The Peace Records. Def Jam South partnered with that label, reworked the album and debuted Ludacris' "Back For The First Time." The album's led by the single "What's Your Fantasy," which has been getting stellar reaction at Crossover radio. It debuted in the Top Five on the HITS chart this week with more than 120k in sales.

If Ludacris is any indication, Def Jam South could be heading north to a higher vantage point in the rap game. Says Def Jam/ Def Soul President Kevin Liles: "We are very excited about our first Def Jam South signing. His energy and tremendous talent make him a true star and the perfect artist to launch our operation. Now, if I could just find Lyor a decent kosher deli down there…"

They may have lost out on the World Series, but Atlanta looks like it could be the next big thing in hip-hop.

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