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Gee Roberson named chairman of Geffen Records

Exec is a veteran of Atlantic and Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records

Longtime hip-hop A&R topper and artist manager Gee Roberson has been named chairman of Universal Music Group’s Geffen Records.

Roberson’s appointment signals UMG’s relaunch of Geffen as a full-service New York-based label, according to a knowledgeable source.

Roberson will be based in New York and report to Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine.

He will fill the chair vacated this spring by Ron Fair, who is now working as a full-time music producer on Fox’s “American Idol,” where Iovine is inhouse mentor.

Roberson is co-CEO of HipHop, the management firm that handles Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Young Jeezy. He was previously senior VP of A&R at Atlantic Records, where he helmed the urban music division.

He started his career at Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, where he rose to senior VP of A&R and worked closely with the label’s chief executive and rap mega-star.

At Geffen, Roberson will be charged with building a fresh roster for the company. He will be hiring a staff of perhaps a dozen, including A&R and marketing personnel, according to the source.

Roberson’s arrival prefigures a shift in Geffen’s direction: Company has hitherto been best known for a pop and rock roster that has included Elton John, Cher, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Nirvana and Beck. Label has sported a handful of top R&B and hip-hop acts like Mary J. Blige, the Roots, the Game and Common.

Label was founded in L.A. by David Geffen in 1980 and sold a decade later to UMG’s precursor MCA Records for an estimated $800 million.