Universal Music UK Launches New Frontline Label 0207 Def Jam

The announcement includes the appointment of highly-respected industry executives and twin brothers Alec and Alex Boateng as co-presidents.

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Boateng Brothers 0207 Def Jam
Photo: Def Jam Recordings

Universal Music UK has announced the launch of the new frontline label 0207 Def Jam. It will be the UK home of the Def Jam Recordings label and includes the appointment of the highly-respected industry executives and Ghanaian, London-born twin brothers, Alec and Alex Boateng as co-presidents.

The label’s commitment to the UK’s music, culture and art is reflected in its very name: 0207 is the telephone code for inner London. It will partner with the Def Jam label, which has been in the vanguard of hip-hop culture around the world for over 35 years.

Ten years at Universal

Alex Boateng moves to 0207 Def Jam after ten years at Universal Music UK. Most recently he has been president of Island Records’ first Urban Division, which has been instrumental in shaping the current, sustained upswing of British Black music. He took that role in 2018 and oversaw UK campaigns for Drake, Tiwa Savage, Buju Banton, Nav, Giggs, Unknown T, Ray BLK, M Huncho, Tekno, and Miraa May.

Boateng also spearheaded the campaigns for George The Poet’s debut book release; the British film The Intent 2; and the UK-based clothing brand/label Lizzy. He is a member of Universal Music’s Task Force for Meaningful Change, a driving force for inclusion and social justice. He joined Universal Music in 2010 in a digital role at Island, then held positions in marketing and A&R, during which time he oversaw campaign launches for Tinchy Stryder, Drake, The Weeknd, and Nicki Minaj, and did A&R for such artists as JP Cooper, Sean Paul, Jessie J, Dizzee Rascal, Donae’o, and Big Shaq.

He had started his music career by combining a marketing degree with DJing, multiple radio shifts and running his own marketing and promotions company with then BBC 1Xtra colleague G Money. Consulting roles with the Atlantic, Polydor, and AATW labels followed.

Brother to brother

Alec Boateng moves to 0207 Def Jam after seven years at Warner Music, where he was most recently co-head of A&R at Atlantic. Here he won several industry awards and was key to the commercial and cultural success of several of the biggest acts of the era. He was instrumental in the emergence to chart-topping status of Jess Glynne, the remarkable rises of Stormzy and Burna Boy and other such signings as WSTRN, Rita Ora, Kojo Funds, Stalk Ashley, Preditah, and many more.

Also a seasoned broadcaster, he too spent more than a decade at BBC 1Xtra, hosting the breakfast show for several years and other specialist shows focused on breaking new British music. His profound love of music began in his childhood, and when he began DJing he oversaw the award-winning UK mixtape team Split Mics. He quit university after being headhunted to work in A&R, firstly with Ministry of Sound and then began in his co-owned music company, with the late industry lawyer Richard Antwi. They enjoyed great success with Wretch 32 and worked with other such artists as Popcaan and Gyptian.

Alex’s former colleague at Island, Amy Tettey, will become managing director of 0207 Def Jam after 11 years at Universal Music, the last four as finance director. She worked with the entire Island roster, from Amy Winehouse to Drake and Dizzee Rascal to Giggs. Also joining the team are Jacqueline Eyewe and Char Grant join as marketing director and A&R director respectively.

A talented top team

Universal Music UK chairman & CEO David Joseph, to whom Alec and Alex Boateng will report, says: “Bringing the Boateng brothers together at 0207 Def Jam is an important moment in British culture. Alec and Alex have always done things their own way with success always quick to follow. They have already assembled an exceptionally talented top team with a clear vision for this exciting new chapter in the history of one of the world’s most famous labels.”

Jeff Harleston, interim chairman & CEO of Def Jam Recordings, noted: “It is a perfect fit having Alex and Alec at the helm of 0207 Def Jam. Their creativity, artist relationships, and connection with culture are all key elements that have made Def Jam such an important label for over 35 years. I have no doubt that Alex, Alec and their team will only make the label and the brand even stronger.”

Says Alec Boateng: “Music, art and artists really, really matter. I’m super excited to play a leadership role in this brilliant new space we’re creating for amazing music and talent to live and evolve. A space which will support both our teams and our artists to be the best version of themselves.”

Adds Alex Boateng: “Especially in these times, this is a real privilege. I’m proud our collective journey now includes partnering a legendary label with a style that only London and the UK can provide. Looking forward to watching and guiding where the music and art takes the journey next.”

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