I’m old enough to remember the beginning of Def Jam. I grew up in the Bay Area and was only 6 when they started in 1984, so I wasn’t there for Rick Rubin’s dorm parties 3000 miles away at NYU where, Rubin said, “it was a 10x10 room that had two refrigerator-sized speakers with turntables on top of them" and the Beasties, Run DMC and LL Cool J were frequent visitors. Def Jam’s first release wasn't hip-hop, it was punk- a 7” 45 RPM single by Rubin’s punk band, Hose, in a brown, paper bag without a label. But, I do remember the first time I heard each of Def Jam’s groups from Beastie Boys to Run DMC to LL Cool J to Public Enemy and even later artists, each of them were so influential to my love of hip-hop.
One of them was Tracy Morgan as the host. This was definitely the worst choice from his ridiculous preacher impersonation to his incredibly lame skits that would have been SO much better if Mos Def or Dave Chappelle had performed them. But, the skits weren’t funny, they were just time fillers and you could tell. With Chris Rock sitting right next to Lyor and Russell, you have to wonder, you didn’t even want to ask Chris to host it?
Another moment was Jimmy Fallon. What was he doing there? Is it because The Roots is his house band for his late night show? He looked awkward and out of place. I still have no idea what he was doing there. I’ve never thought of him in connection to Def Jam…ever!
Was it the best it could've been? No. It would've been a much better idea for the originals to cover their own songs (Beasties withstanding) and where was Run DMC? Where was Jay-Z? They had his ad for his newest album but, he was nowhere to be seen. The Beasties had far more compelling interviews in the outtakes than the one that made it on air about recording "Hold It Now." But, they were trying to honor 25 years of Def Jam's influence on hip-hop in two hours and that's damn near impossible.
What did you think of this review?