The year was 1984, and that was the year that Def Jam came to be,Thursday (October 16th) the label marked the 30th anniversary celebration with a lineup of artist including Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Foxy Brown, Onyx, Ja Rule, Ashanti, DMX, Warren G, EPMD, Redman, Method Man and Fabolous at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Starting less than 15 minutes pass ticketed showtime, the show got in four artist sets in pretty much under forty minutes cutting performances from the night’s first performers including Warren G, Foxy Brown, Onyx, to 15 minutes or less.
Those who got the most time onstage included Method Man and Redman, 2 Chainz, Fabolous, DMX(who hit the stage donning a Bane Halloween mask) with special guest Swizz Beatz, and Rick Ross who closed the show with special guests French Montana and Stalley.
Out of the main headliners Method Man(if you were sitting in front center row you were bound to be splashed by water from Method’s water bottle) and Redman(announcing that the duo are working on a sequel to How High which was released nearly 15 years ago) along with Ja Rule and Ashanti, and DMX and Swizz Beatz seemed to be crowd favorites.
Although Rick Ross was ultimately supposed to be the main headliner by the time he hit the stage four and a half hours into the show, many in the audience had already made their exits. Ross tried his best to keep the crowd in their seats with his boss rhymes, and having women shaking their bare behinds on stage as he threw money in the air.
In what was probably the most out of place performance had to go to Love and Hip Hop New York’s star Peter Gunz, who hit the stage to perform Déjà vu (Uptown Baby)”, despite the fact that he nor rap partner Lord Tariq were not even signed to Def Jam (In fact the song was released via Columbia Records).
Interestingly absent were LL Cool J (who claimed in an interview he wasn’t invited, despite giving Def jam some of their first hits), Rev Run and DMC from Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Nas, Jay-Z(obviously vacationing with Beyonce and Blue Ivy in Europe) and the list goes on of big named Def Jam heavyweights that were nowhere to be seen in venue. Even original label founders Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin didn’t attend!! However DJ Kid Capri attempted to make up for the absence of those who many felt should have made appearances onstage by spinning records from those artist. Even so artist who were actually on the headlining bill (Jhene Aiko and Jeremih), never made it to the stage, although it has been clear from Aiko’s own admission that she was in the venue ready to perform. Instead to make up for time void left by Aiko and Jeremih vacant brief sets, Big Sean filled in as a surprise performance, which the highlight of his brief set was his new get back at your ex track “I Don’t F*ck With You”.
Def Jam 30 was more about representing a particular era in the label’s 30 year history rather than really representing it’s full 30 year history. Also the show was an attempt to bring attention to acts that may have been forgotten in Def Jam history like Onyx.