At the age of 30, after just ten years with the company, Kevin Liles was promoted to president of leading rap label Def Jam Records.
Instrumental in the careers of superstars like Jay-Z, Ja Rule, and DMX, Liles also had his hand in spin-off labels Def Soul and Def Jam South, as well as joint music recording ventures, Roc-A-Fella and Murder Inc.
In bringing success to Def Jam, Liles has unapologeti-cally stayed true to the urban grittiness of rap, complete with its gangster image, claiming that the violent images and crude lyrics parallel real life.
Despite his unwavering support of the gangster image perpetuated by Def Jam’s recordings and artists, Liles insisted that the company be run according to accepted corporate standards.
“I want people to see that Def Jam breeds excellence, with young executives who could thrive in any other company,” he told Crain’s New York Business.