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Def Jam Chief Says ‘Rap Camp’ Concept ‘Encapsulates Our New Direction’

“Seventeen artists, six days, one incredible album full of new music.” That was the description used by Def Jam Records to introduce the label’s “Rap Camp” concept, which yielded the compilation album “Undisputed” designed to introduce the roster’s slate of hip-hop newcomers.

Def Jam is, of course, home to some of the biggest names in rap and pop, including Kanye West, YG and Justin Bieber, but under the still relatively new leadership of CEO Paul Rosenberg and EVP Steven Victor, this experimental undertaking is among the label’s most ambitious yet.

The talent was hand-picked by EVP and A&R veteran Victor, who describes the project as “making the kind of music I want to listen to now.” The lineup includes 18-year-old YK Osiris from Jacksonville, Sneakk from the Bay Area, Fetty Luciano from Brooklyn and YFL Kelvin from Cleveland, among many others, who converged on Paramount Studios in West Hollywood to collaborate.

Songwriting camps are commonly used in the music business as a way to bring together creators who haven’t necessarily worked together before. The hope is that magic will come out of a few of the sessions. But Def Jam’s “Undisputed” goes one further by casting artists in those roles, and getting behind them as the sound of “now.”

Speaking to Variety, Noah Sheer, Def Jam’s EVP of rhythm and lifestyle promotion, calls the effort “the future of hip-hop creation at its finest. … Rap Camp is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario where artists came from different parts of the country, converged in L.A. and collaborated on bodies of work and songs — in a way where you can be in one studio, and peek into another studio just to see what’s going on. They became friends and built off one another. It was super dope.”

In announcing the project, Rosenberg said, “In collaboration with our talented EVP Steven Victor and our incredible team of executives, we have worked diligently to define the label we strive to become. Together with these incredible new artists, we have developed urgent, cutting-edge, and truly great new music and content. As we proudly enter our 35th anniversary year, I’m excited to launch this project, one that I think defines and encapsulates our new direction.”

The Rap Camp recording sessions were produced by Victor, Def Jam VP of A&R Anthony “AE” Edwards and in-house producer Rico Beats. An eight-part documentary film series is also planned for the near future. 

Watch the trailer below:

Popular on Variety

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