In news that is probably unexpected but no less sad for the hip-hop and pop music world, El-P has released an official statement on the rumors of the demise of Definitive Jux records. El-P, the label’s founder, main producer, and spiritual leader, has officially stepped down from running the label, which for most of the 2000s was the premiere source of independent hip-hop, with a bevy of classic releases from artists including Cannibal Ox to Mr. Lif, RJD2, and Aesop Rock.
From Def Jux’s website:
In 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so and I find myself yearning for something else to put my energy into. I also see newer, smarter, more interesting things on the horizon for the way art and commerce intersect, and as an artist and an entrepreneur, I’m eager to see them unfold. The evolution of this industry is, in my opinion, exciting, inevitable and it would be nice to see the DEFINITIVE JUX brand be a part of it. In other words, maybe we can turn this hoopty in to a hovercraft.
All business aside, and regardless of what form JUX may inevitably take, my focus for the immediate future is going to be back-to-basics. The fun stuff: sitting in the studio and immersing myself in music, performing it for for my fans when the time comes and whatever (or wherever) else might be out there creatively for me. Thats how it all started and that’s how the next phase will begin.
El-P will in no way be retiring, but the seeming end of Def Jux marks the end of an era for independent hip-hop. In 2001, music critic Simon Reynolds, who last year wrote hip-hop’s obituary, wrote one of the definitive pieces on El-P for the Village Voice, in which he compared El-P to Steve Albini for hip-hop. El-P’s departure from Def Jux, and the uncertain future of the label, is no less devastating for hip-hop than the similar circumstances that befell Touch & Go records last year was for indie rock. In fact, the devastation may even be greater.