Universal launches 0207 Def Jam label in the UK

Universal launches 0207 Def Jam label in the UK

After months of speculation, Universal Music UK has announced the launch of 0207 Def Jam, a new label business headed up by twin brothers Alec and Alex Boateng.

The brothers have been installed as co-presidents of the new frontline label, which is the UK home of Def Jam Recordings. The ‘0207’ in the name is taken from London’s dialling code. Universal has also launched Def Jam businesses in Vietnam and Africa this year.

Music Week broke the news that Alec Boateng was leaving his position as head of A&R at Atlantic, where his work included helping to bring Stormzy’s #Merky imprint into the major, back in March.

Weeks later, we revealed that Alex Boateng has left his position as president of urban at Island Records. Sources would not confirm rumours about the brothers’ next move, but it is now clear that the pair spent the intervening months lining up 0207 Def Jam.

Alec Boateng said: “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 that will support both our teams and our artists to be the best version of themselves.”

Alex Boateng commented: “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.”


Music, art and artists really, really matter

Alec Boateng, 0207 Def Jam


The co-presidents will report to Universal Music UK chairman and CEO David Joseph, who said their joint arrival at the major is “an important moment in British culture”.

“Alec and Alex have always done things their own way with success always quick to follow,” Joseph added. “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, Def Jam Recordings, said: “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.”


Our journey now includes partnering a legendary label with a style that only London and the UK can provide

Alex Boateng, 0207 Def Jam


Details have also been released about the team the Boateng brothers have assembled for the new label.

Amy Tettey, who has served at Island for 11 years, the past four as finance director, comes in as managing director. Former Atlantic exec Jacqueline Eyewe is marketing director, while Char Grant is A&R director. Eyewe joined Atlantic in 2015 and helped build campaigns for a range of acts including Stormzy, Burna Boy, Lizzo, Wstrn, Kehlani and Cardi B. Grant arrives from BMG Music Publishing, where she has worked with a range of artists and producers including Giggs, Ghetts P2J, TSB and AOD. 

Alex Boateng has been at Universal for 10 years. Having arrived in a digital role at Island, he progressed into marketing and A&R before taking up a position in its urban division. After working on Tinchy Stryder, Jessie J, Dizzee Rascal and more in his early days at the label, he moved into the urban division, where he oversaw UK campaigns for Drake, Tiwa Savage, Buju Banton, Nav, Giggs, Unknown T, Ray Blk, M Huncho, Tekno and Miraa May. He also led projects including George The Poet’s debut book release, UK film The Intent 2 and clothing brand and label Lizzy. He is a member of Universal Music’s Task Force for Meaningful Change. He and Grant are also among the executives involved with the Black Music Coalition.


Alec and Alex have always done things their own way

David Joseph, Universal Music UK


Alec Boateng served for seven years at Warner Music, most recently as co-head of A&R at Atlantic, working on Jess Glynne, Stormzy, Burna Boy and more. He also spent over a decade at BBC Radio 1Xtra, hosting the breakfast show and a series of other specialist new music programmes

His industry career began at Ministry Of Sound and he later co-owned a music company with Richard Antwi, working with Wretch 32, Popcaan, Gyptian and more.

Details of the first 0207 Def Jam projects are yet to be confirmed.

Music Week interviewed Alec and Alex Boateng together back in 2017, subscribers can read it online here.

PHOTO: Olivia Rose

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