It wasn’t all bad news this Black History Month.
The other day, it was announced that Paul Rosenberg has been let go from Def Jam, where he’d been chairman and CEO for a little over two years. I guess technically he resigned, but obviously that was just to save face. If he’d intended to step down, he would have done so this past December, when everything was shutting down for a few weeks anyway, and the company would have had a replacement ready to step in. Instead, they’ve got some random white guy from the legal department acting as interim CEO. I’m sure he’s an expert at jerking artists, but what does he know about rap music?
I don’t follow music closely anymore, because I’m not sure if I even liked music in the first place, and I definitely don’t like it anymore, but I still write about new artists fairly often, for the sake of online music journalism. Out of curiosity, I consulted the Google re: a number of recently popular artists, and come to find out none of them are signed to Def Jam. Lizzo, Lil Nas X, my distant cousin Da Baby and this guy who got killed the other day, Pop Smoke, were all signed to labels other than Def Jam.
An article I skimmed touted the fact that Rosenberg had four number one albums while he was at Def Jam: two by Kanye West and two by Logic. Logic is half-white, so he should have been a perfect fit for Rosenberg, who’s managed Eminem for 20-plus years. They probably would have done great things together, if Rosenberg hadn’t been dropped like a bad habit. Rosenberg’s tenure at Def Jam coincided with the time when Kanye West lost his damn mind. I wonder if there was any attempt on his part to try to talk some sense into the rapper. Kanye had been one of the few people keeping the lights on up there, and obviously that’s coming to an end.
Rihanna is probably Def Jam’s top artist, and she hasn’t had an album out in a good five years. I’m sure this became a point of contention. If she’d dropped an album in 2019, and it did huge business, would Rosenberg be out of a job? Was there an attempt made to get her into the studio? She doesn’t need to drop an album, because she has her own line of cosmetics akin to Kylie Jenner’s line of lip gloss that gives white chicks DSLs—except that Rihanna’s makeup is supposedly designed to look good on black chicks. Rihanna’s body was a mess the last few times I saw her. I wonder if Rosenberg called her into his office and told her she needed to hit the gym.
So many of Rosenberg’s problems, it seems, stem from his inability to cultivate a rapport with black artists, whether it’s him not being able to talk some sense into Kanye, or not being able to get Rihanna to drop an album. To alleviate these issues, Def Jam’s board might consider bringing in a black guy as his permanent replacement. If they want to do it during Black History Month, they’ve got one more day, with this being a leap year. Unfortunately, that extra day falls on a weekend, and you know how, ever since they came out with direct deposit (which hits your account on midnight Thursday), it can be hard enough to get black people to show up to work on Friday, let alone Saturday.
Take it easy on yourself,