One major issue former employees and artists had with Def Jam was the carelessness shown by the executives. As the original members of the Def Jam team were replaced by newcomers, the history of the label was forgotten. But, the artist who helped establish the label, LL Cool J, felt he was treated worse than them all.
Irv Gotti felt he should have been the head of the label, but LL Cool J felt he should at least had a release date for his final album. In 2006, LL Cool J was disappointed in the lack of promotion the Jay-Z-led Def Jam for his album. LL Cool J had hopes of releasing another album in 2006, which was eventually delayed until 2008.
The final album in his contract with Def Jam, LL Cool J decided it was time for him to leave his longtime label. As he exited the label, LL Cool J spoke of how the original team was replaced by people who did not acknowledge history. Years later, Irv Gotti had similar statements, as the label was dealt more losses, with artists leaving the label.
Despite the trouble Def Jam has been in over the past few years, two of the biggest artists, so far, of 2012, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, are signed to the label. However, Rick Ross has a partnership with Warner Bros. for his Maybach Music label and there have been rumors of Young Jeezy leaving Def Jam. In an effort to keep this from happening, Def Jam hired Joie Manda to take over as the head of the label.
Manda helped turn Asylum Records, which had been defunct for nearly a decade, from a heavy metal and alternative music record label into a roster full of hip hop artists. Asylum Records served as distributors for Rap-A-Lot Records, Swisha House, and many other record labels from the South. Among the artists they boasted on the roster included Mike Jones and Paul Wall. Once Manda left, those artists were absorbed into Warner Bros., where he briefly served, helping to usher Maybach Music under the Warner banner.
Joie Manda has proven he knows how to be an effective leader, turning Asylum and Warner Bros. Records into hip hop authorities. In many ways, Def Jam has been the prototype for many labels when they focus on hip hop. Now running the most-successful hip hop record label in history, should Joie Manda pay homage to the history of Def Jam and lure LL Cool J back home? Given his role, which has lasted four years, on “NCIS: LA,” LL might not return as an artist, but he may accept an executive position.
LL Cool J was upset Def Jam did not offer him the CEO position when Jay-Z took the job. The iconic rapper was further angered when the Jay-Z-led regime did not offer him an executive role. Despite the past few years of success, Def Jam has not been the same without their original artist. A return from LL Cool J could lead to more artists wanting to be a part of the Joie Manda-led Def Jam.