Nigerian-born entertainment heavyweight and former Executive Vice President of A&R for RCA Records, an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, Tunji Balogun has been announced as Def Jam Records Chief Executive Officer.
In his new role, the record label chief will oversee a roster that includes music heavyweights like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, YG, Big Sean, Logic, and Alessia Cara.
Balogun is also the co-founder of Keep Cool, an RCA imprint, a company he co-founded alongside Courtney Stewart, Jon Tanners, and Jared Sherman in 2018.
He replaces Eminem’s longtime manager, Paul Rosenberg, who became chairman and CEO in 2017, but stepped down in February this year, after being strongly criticised for the company’s inability to create a new range of stars after Logic and Justin Beiber.
Rosenberg was also criticised for not taking advantage of the Drill movement that started in his backyard. Following his vacation from the post, Universal Music Group Executive VP Business and Legal Affairs, Jeffrey Harleston, filled the role on an interim basis.
Prior to joining RCA in 2015, Balogun spent seven and half years at Interscope, where he worked with Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, The Game, Keyshia Cole and OneRepublic, as well as signing Atlanta rapper, K Camp and bringing Los Angeles rapper Cozz to J. Cole’s Dreamville joint venture with Interscope.
At RCA, he created a lane with R&B artistes, playing an instrumental role in signing Normani, Khalid, Wizkid, H.E.R, Goldlink, Bryson Tiller, UMI, Lucky Daye, Freddie Gibbs, Madlib, Nigerian sisters, VanJess and SZA, whose signing established the label’s partnership with Top Dawg Entertainment to release her Grammy-nominated debut album ‘Ctrl’.
He was recently listed on Billboard’s R&B Hip-Hop Power Players list, as he was also instrumental in the Black Panther OST, and more recently, worked with Doja Cat, whose third studio album Planet Her in June debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 the same month.
Balogun started his career as a marketing intern at Warner Bros Records, setting aside his college aspirations to become a rapper himself. After graduating from Pomona College in 2004, he pursued a full-time job with Warner while also working at Def Jam Mobile, which was Def Jam Enterprises’ division for selling ringtones.
His appointment as CEO is just the latest in a series of executive shakeups at Def Jam over the past two months, as the entertainment outfit in June, announced it had promoted Nicki Farag to executive VP and general manager, and just a few days later, it revealed it had brought on Snoop Dogg as an executive creative and strategic consultant.
Rich Isaacson, executive VP, and general manager in May departed the label after more than three years.