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BUILDING WITH LAGOS: DEF JAM'S NEW JV WITH NATIVE RECORDS

To celebrate his label’s new JV partnership with Lagos, Nigeria/U.K.-based NATIVE Records, Def Jam boss Tunji Balogun (second from right) posed for this incredibly cool photo with label co-founders Teni “Teezee” Zaccheaus, Shola “Sholz” Fagbemi and Seni Saraki. Native is the music division of NATIVE Networks, a discovery platform for the global Afrobeats movement. It will sign and develop new talent in collaboration with Def Jam. Balogun also brought his partners up to speed about HITS, noting that our editors “take a lot of naps.”

Co-Presidents Zaccheaus and Saraki, along with Fagbemi, Addy Edgal and Suleiman Shittu, launched the multimedia NATIVE enterprise in 2016, quickly developing a reputation for success in identifying and highlighting new talent.

Here are some genuine quotes that were provided along with this evocative photograph.

“As we build a culture here at Def Jam that connects the best in the global Black music diaspora—from hip-hop and R&B to reggae, Afrobeats and more—clearly some of the best, most vital, interesting and cutting-edge new artists and sounds in music today are coming out of Africa,” reads a statement from Balogun. “Seni, Teni and the NATIVE crew have their fingers on the pulse of what's truly happening in the scene as an engine of discovery and a hub for creators and artists. I’ve been a fan of their platform and have been connected to the guys for some time. Our partnership feels authentic and natural, and I believe we’re going to discover and develop some amazing talent together.”

“We’ve known Tunji for quite a while now, and his ear and track record for breaking Black artists from all over the world to a global audience is second to none,” goes a quote jointly credited to Zaccheaus and Saraki. “We are honored to be invited into his new home and to be the first joint-venture partnership with an African company in Def Jam’s legendary history. We truly believe that for music, Africa is the most exciting place in the world right now. We want NATIVE Records to be about artistic freedom and as a company, we’ve always been passionate about discovering and working with artists who don’t quite color within the lines and helping them express themselves and build community. Africa is not a monophonic continent, and we believe this partnership will prove just that.”

Photo: Geo Davis

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