Universal Music Group launches Def Jam India

Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced the launch of Def Jam India, a new label division within India and South Asia dedicated to representing the hip hop and rap talent from the region.

Def Jam India will follow the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, which has led and influenced hip hop and urban culture for more than 35 years. Dino James and Fotty Seven are the first artist signings to join Def Jam India.

Dino James | Image credit: RC Photography

Speaking on launch, Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director and CEO, Universal Music India and South Asia said, “The launch of Def Jam India could not come at a better time for music in India. Our domestic hip hop and rap artists are rapidly growing into some of the most exciting talents in the region, taking their rightful space alongside mainstream national & regional pop, and what better home for those artists than Def Jam, the pioneering global home of hip hop. Def Jam India, will be infused and inspired by local street and rap culture, Indian sounds and unique multi-lingual flows, which will enable us to introduce new artists across the country and region, and beyond.”

Tunji Balogun, Chairman and CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “We’re excited to welcome Def Jam India to the worldwide Def Jam family, following our recent launches in the U.K., Europe, Africa and Asia. Hip hop reflects the pulse of global youth culture and chronicles new stories and voices in real time. Def Jam India will provide audiences worldwide the opportunity to discover and experience Indian hip hop culture at its finest and introduce the next generation of cutting-edge artists emerging from the region.”

Adam Granite, EVP Market Development, Universal Music Group said, “Indian hip-hop is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing movements in global music today. In recent years we have seen an increase in demand for Hip-Hop in India, and beyond. UMG has committed to supporting and investing in the next wave of talent from the region for several years and has led the transition towards original artist culture and non-film music. The launch of Def Jam India marks a pivotal point in that transition, as we look to bring Hip-Hop into the Indian mainstream and further expand the profile of Indian music around the world.”

Vinit Thakkar, COO Universal Music Group India and South Asia said “We are extremely excited to provide an opportunity to the Indian Hip-Hop talent to showcase their artistry to global audiences. Having led the non-film music revolution in India over the last few years, we will continue with our endeavour across all our labels to be the artist-first and artist-centric label in helping artists to take their music to newer audiences across the globe.”

Dino James is an independent rapper, singer, songwriter and composer from Sarni in Madhya Pradesh. Dino draws inspiration from real-life experiences and struggles. He is inspired by rap God Eminem and legendary composer A.R. Rahman. He rose to fame with his debut single “Loser”, followed by a flow of back-to-back releases that have continued to push the boundaries of contemporary hip hop in India. Now, Dino James has over 5.1 million subscribers on YouTube, more than 400million video views achieved to date and over 100 million audio streams across all platforms.

Ankit Gudwani aka Fotty Seven has been dubbed as India’s next bilingual avant-garde hip hop artist. The 29-year-old draws inspiration from 50 Cent and Eminem, and initially began rapping in English, after which he transitioned to Hindi. His name Fotty Seven is derived from the chemical element Silver with the symbol AG (representing the first and last name initials of Ankit Gudwani) and atomic number 47.

Fotty Seven | Image credit: Kartik Kher

Fotty Seven is also a part of a hip hop trio Kaleshi Launde along with Badshah and Bali. He released his debut EP ‘Asli Independent’ in 2020, alongside several singles. He shot to fame with the single, ‘Bhot Tej’ ft. Badshah.

Def Jam India will release the two artists singles later this month, Dino James’ ‘Lost’ and Fotty Seven’s ‘Banjo’.

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