So Pitchfork is reporting that Definitive Jux Records, the amazing indie hip hop label, is going on an indefinite “hiatus”. To make matters worse, El-P is stepping down.
While it’s true that they’re not exactly over, they’re also not planning on releasing any new music on physical media. Hopefully this still means some digital distribution, and may actually lower their operating costs a lot. However, it also means that a lot of dope hip hop will no longer be found on vinyl.
Despite assurances that Def Jux isn’t shutting down and is just changing, you can almost hear the sadness in the Pitchfork article. It reads more like a eulogy than a news piece, but I completely agree with the author.
Def Jux had a massive impact on the sound of indie rap. El-P’s squalid, discordant production, which in many ways defined the label’s sound, marked a huge departure from the dusky boom-bap of the label’s underground rap predecessors. You can hear its echoes in much of the past decade’s underground rap. And Def Jux was also the rare record label that had an identity beyond whatever artists happened to be signed to the label at any given time. The label’s records were elaborately designed and packaged, and its artists tended to group together on package tours. I’ve heard club crowds chant the label’s name, a true rarity for any record label in any genre. El’s statement could mark the end of an era.
It’s a sad day for the label that once brought us RJD2, Mr. Lif, Del, Aesop Rock, Chin Chin, and a pile of others.
Here’s hoping that something good comes of this, and no matter form they choose, as long as they put out killer hip hop, 4080 Records will keep supporting them.