Adekunle Gold Joins Def Jam

Ferdinand  Ekechukwu

Afrobeats star, Adekunle Gold is set to take his music career to a whole new level following a recent signing with Def Jam Recordings. The deal was disclosed in a statement by Nigerian Def Jam’s music executive, Tunji Balogun. The Afro-fusion singer, songwriter, since his rebranding from Adekunle Gold to AG Baby, has continued to hit major milestones.

Owned by Universal Music Group, the contract with the American multinational record company (Def Jam) comes at a defining moment and will see Gold join the league of Nigerian artistes pushing the frontiers internationally. Adekunle Gold’s latest single ‘Party No Dey Stop’ marks his debut for the label. “I’ve been following Adekunle Gold since I first heard his record ‘Sade’ in 2016,” Balogun noted in the statement.  

Balogun added, “Over the years, everything in AG’s world has elevated — his songwriting has refined, the scope of his artistry has widened, his vocals have strengthened, his approach to fashion is more distinct, and his showmanship and performance ability have grown exponentially,” Balogun further explained. “He’s stepped into stardom on his own terms and is completely comfortable being his true self.

“When I started at Def Jam, I knew I wanted to bring the label into the Afrobeats space tastefully, with the right artistes and partnership. Adekunle felt like the perfect fit – he’d already done so much work on his own to build a base, but I knew that we could scale his audience to an even bigger level if we combined our energies and worked together.”

Billboard in a report affirmed that Balogun has been playing a monumental role in bolstering Def Jam’s roster with more talent from the African Diaspora. In September 2022, the label signed an exclusive worldwide joint venture with Native Records to develop African artistes.

Balogun added: “I think AG is a truly global artiste, and a rightful ambassador for Nigerian music and the emerging Afrobeats scene. He has the talent, virtuosity, focus, work ethic and temperament required to be a worldwide superstar. I’m excited to work with him and the Def Jam team to bring more fans into his world.”

Gold, born Adekunle Almoruf Kosoko, describes his signing as a “full circle moment” after Balogun tried signing him years ago, prior to the executive’s arrival at Def Jam in 2022.

The “5 Star” singer said he and Balogun share Nigerian roots: “He understands it, so signing to Tunji makes sense. He’s like my studio buddy that just comes everywhere I go. The day he doesn’t have time to be there, I know he must’ve been like stupidly busy. He’s great. When it comes to signing with Def Jam, the track record is there.

“The history is there. They break artistes, and they have niche, unique artistes like me, so I think it’s the right move for me. All of the things that I’ve done for myself already, they know already and that’s why they’re on board.”

His fifth studio album coming up in June 2023 will be distributed worldwide under Def Jam.

Gold recalls Balogun was in Lagos when he and fellow Nigerian singer Zinoleesky were writing and recording “Party No Dey Stop.” 

That’s Gold’s new single featuring Zinoleesky that marks his Def Jam debut. He says of the song: “When we started to make the music, it was so easy for me to go in and just attack the song. I wrote my verse, I wrote the chorus, and it was a rap. I knew from then that this song was a jam.

“Party No Dey Stop” arrives ahead of Gold’s fifth studio album due in June. In support of the project, he’ll embark on a four-month world tour that’s set to kick off in North America in September and run through the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and the Caribbean through next year.

Gold first rose to fame in 2015 with the single “Sade,” a highlife love song that samples instrumentals from One Direction’s 2013 hit “Story of My Life.” Gold eventually signed his first record label deal with Olamide’s YBNL Nation and released his debut studio album, Gold, in 2017. It peaked at No. 7 on Billboard‘s World Albums chart.

Following his departure from YBNL Nation, Adekunle Gold unveiled his band “The 79th Element in reference to the atomic number of gold. The Afrobeats star then started his own label, Afro Urban Records which he once confessed was the best decision he ever made and put out two albums: 2018’s About 30 and 2022’s Catch Me If You Can. He released his 2020 album, Afro Pop, Vol. 1. 

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