New Def Jam Executive Talks Rihanna, Rick Ross, Jay-Z
Chris Hicks has inherited some complex situations involving the label's artists.
Def Jam Records officially announced Tuesday that Chris Hicks has been appointed the executive vice president of the label, almost a month after MTV News confirmed the move.
Hicks, a former senior executive at Atlantic Records and Warner/Chappell Music, replaced the late Shakir Stewart, who held the position following Jay-Z's stint as president of the storied hip-hop label.
Like some other newly minted presidents, Hicks has inherited a number of difficult situations.
There's one of his flagship artists, Rick Ross, who's embroiled in an ongoing feud with 50 Cent. There's the uncertain status of Jay-Z as a recording artist with the label. And, of course, there's Def Jam artist Rihanna, who is reportedly the victim in an alleged physical altercation with Chris Brown.
With regard to Rihanna, Hicks said he echoes Jay-Z's recent statement on the matter.
"I would support Jay's sentiment and just ask people to reflect on the time when they were [her age]," Hicks told MTV News. "Unfortunately in her case, she happens to be famous. But there's a lot of growing pains you go through at a young age, and we should all be able to recollect [that] and be as supportive as we can."
As far as Ross, Hicks has said the two have only spoken about the Miami rapper's forthcoming album Deeper Than Rap, which the new Def Jam exec said is "remarkable." But like Island Def Jam Chairman L.A. Reid, who talked to MTV News about Ross last week, Hicks said he accepts the battle element as a part of a rapper's career. He also feels that Ross and 50 won't cross the line into violence.
"Hip-hop is predicated on battles of some sort, so if they don't cross some line of violence, which we all hope and are confident they won't, these things happen," Hicks explained.
One thing Hicks doesn't know, however, is on which label Jay-Z will release his next album. Jay-Z reportedly owes Def Jam one more album, but he also inked a $150 million deal to release material with Live Nation. The rapper told MTV News last month that The Blueprint 3's release will likely be a partnership between companies.
"I'm not sure," Hicks laughed when asked about Hov's Def Jam prospects. "No comment, actually."
Hicks rose through the music-industry ranks with his own company, Noontime, which he founded in 1997. He helped to build the careers of singers such as Mary J. Blige and Usher, as well as hit songwriters like Johnta Austin (Mariah Carey, Monica) and Bryan-Michael Cox (Mariah Carey, Fantasia). Hicks said he hopes to bring his forté for molding artists to bear with Def Jam's formidable roster.
"The development and replenishment of superstar acts coming into the fold here — [that's one of] the key points of focus for me and all of us here," he said. "That's gonna keep the wheels going 'round here, no question."