There hangs an exquisite watercolor painting of boxer Mike Tyson in his prime. He is draped in championship belts, that menacing look in his eyes, the signature gold tooth barely visible beneath his steely profile. The greens, reds, yellows, and blues give life to the portrait against the whitewashed wall. It is a sharp, if not overly self-evident, reminder that champions are not made overnight. In the adjacent room hangs similar paintings—one of all-star San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and another of Hall-of-Fame linebacker Lawrence “LT” Taylor. A boxing ring sits center floor. The crowd of neon du jour twenty-somethings eagerly awaits the arrival of their champion. He is late.
Def Jux founder and artistic director El-P has announced that he will putting his classic indie hip-hop label (voted the #2 label of the decade by you) on hiatus, following the release of the late Camu Tao’s King of Hearts LP. El-P explains that this break will allow him to focus on being a producer and raper full-time in a statement on the Def Jux website. He also expect to continue Def Jux as a brand of some sort (sounds like a media company we know) just not releasing music in the traditional way.
In 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so and I find myself yearning for something else to put my energy into. I also see newer, smarter, more interesting things on the horizon for the way art and commerce intersect, and as an artist and an entrepreneur, I’m eager to see them unfold. The evolution of this industry is, in my opinion, exciting, inevitable and it would be nice to see the DEFINITIVE JUX brand be a part of it. In other words, maybe we can turn this hoopty in to a hovercraft.