Def Jam Recordings has entered into an exclusive worldwide joint venture partnership agreement with the Lagos, Nigeria and UK-based Native Records. The announcement was made by Def Jam chairman/CEO Tunji Balogun and Seni “Chubbz” Saraki and Teni “Teezee” Zaccheaus, co-presidents and co-founders of Native Networks.
Native Records is the music division of Native Networks, a black-owned and operated, multi-platform, multi-disciplinary media and content company “dedicated to the discovery and development of young African artists and youth culture” via its Native print and digital magazine, its Nativeland festivals and more, according to the announcement. Founded in 2016 by Saraki and Zaccheaus with Shola Fagbemi, Addy Edgal and Suleiman Shittu, the label has been a driving force in the Afrobeats movement.
Zaccheaus, Fagbemi and Saraki — in collaboration with Balogun (second from left), who has had success with artists like WizKid and Tems — will use their A&R expertise and contacts to sign and develop talent across the African musical diaspora.
“As we build a culture here at Def Jam that connects the best in the global black music diaspora – from hip-hop and R&B to reggae, afrobeats and more – clearly some of the best, most vital, interesting and cutting-edge new artists and sounds in music today are coming out of the continent,” said Balogun. “Seni, Teni and the Native crew have their fingers on the pulse of what’s truly happening in the scene, as an engine for discovery, and as a hub for creators and artists. I’ve been a fan of their platform, and have been connected to the guys for some time. Our partnership feels authentic and natural, and I believe we’re going to discover and develop some amazing talent together.”
“We’ve known Tunji for quite a while now, and his ear & track record for breaking black artists from all over the world to a global audience, is second to none,” said Saraki and Zaccheaus. “We are honored to be invited into his new home, and to be the first joint venture deal with an African company in Def Jam’s legendary history. We truly believe that for music, the continent is the most exciting place in the world right now. We want Native Records to be about artistic freedom, and as a company, we’ve always been passionate about discovering and working with artists that don’t quite color within the lines, and helping them to express themselves and build community. Africa is not a monophonic continent, and we believe this partnership will prove just that.”