As of yesterday, Chairman & CEO of Def Jam Recordings, Tunji Balogun, Co-Presidents and Co-Founders of NATIVE Networks, Seni ‘Chubbz’ Saraki and Teni ‘Teezee’ Zaccheaus announced that Def Jam Recordings has entered into an exclusive joint venture partnership with Lagos, Nigeria and UK-based NATIVE Records.
NATIVE Records is the music division of NATIVE Networks, the 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. Founded in 2016 by Seni Saraki, Teni Zaccheaus, Shola Fagbemi, Addy Edgal & Suleiman Shittu, NATIVE has amassed a track record of breaking boundaries and popularizing new sounds through the discovery and development of home-grown artists from the community, with special attention to the burgeoning Afrobeats movement.
Saraki, Zaccheaus, and Fagbemi – in collaboration with Balogun, who has had groundbreaking success with artists like WizKid and Tems, will use their proven A&R-sensibilities, extensive expertise and contacts in the creative community 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,” Tunji Balogun said.
“Seni, Teni, and the Native crew have their fingers on the pulse of what’s really 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”, Seni ‘Chubbz’ Saraki and Teni ‘Teezee’ Zaccheaus said. “We are honored to be invited into his new home and to be the first joint venture partnership 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.”
Heralded in a profile from The FADER, THE NATIVE crew “pride themselves on being the collective definitive voice for African youth culture, with the brand evolving from producing live experiences and an editorial magazine (print and digital) to producing one of the continent’s most exciting youth-driven festivals just within four years. Through NATIVE LAND and NATIVE magazine, they seek to be the center for young Africans who are into learning what’s next in African music, art, and style for generations to come.”