Report: Rihanna Quietly Departs Def Jam; Signs With New Label

Published: Monday 5th May 2014 by Sam

A search-party may still be on the hunt for Rihanna‘s talent, yet it’s hard to deny — she’s a success. A major one at that.

As such, it’s intriguing to learn that the star may not only have left her longtime recording home Def Jam, but done so with minimal volume.

Details after the jump…

Remember, exactly one year ago, when we reported Roc Nation had announced the formal establishment of their own record label? Well, now it appears they’ve secured their banner act…RiRi.

Some may be wondering: but, isn’t she signed to Roc Nation already?

Yes, however -prior to now (and prior to the launch of the Roc’s new label) – it was solely in a managerial and A&R’ing capacity.

Yet, according to Complex, the 26-year-old is now all-Roc everything.

When Rihanna first signed her record deal with Def Jam in 2005, she said then-label-president Jay Z wouldn’t let her out of the office until the 17-year-old signed on the dotted line. Six months later her debut album Music of the Sun hit the charts. Since then, she released all seven of her albums—including 2012’s Unapologetic—on Def Jam. But much has changed since then.

In 2009, Jay left his presidential role at Def Jam for his own Roc Nation label, formed as part of his multi-million-dollar contract with Live Nation. In October 2010, Rihanna parted ways with her former manager Marc Jordan and signed with Jay’s Roc Nation management team.

Earlier this year there were big changes at Island Def Jam Music Group. CEO Barry Weiss stepped down and Universal Music Group, the corporate parent of IDJMG, dissolved the company into three distinct record labels: Def Jam, Island, and Motown. As a result Rihanna—along with Kanye West and some others—left Island Def Jam and joined CEO Steve Bartels at the now-revamped Def Jam with No I.D. and Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua serving as executive Vice Presidents and heads of A&R.

But now it appears that Rihanna has very quietly made another move. Within the past few weeks, her Roc Nation website profile has been updated to specify that she’s not just managed but also officially signed to the label—joining the likes of Calvin Harris, DJ Mustard, J. Cole, Jay Electronica, Rita Ora, and of course, Jay Z. Meanwhile, the Def Jam website now lists Rihanna under “Legacy” section (past artists), along with folks like Amerie, Ashanti, and Slick Rick.

Rihanna’s publicists at 42 West have yet to confirm, but we reached out to some well-placed sources who confirmed that Rihanna is now a Roc Nation artist—signed to both the label and the management company. Which makes sense—having fulfilled her Def Jam album contract, she’s back with Hov at the Roc.

Fascinating stuff and highly likely too as both Def Jam and Roc Nation both sit under Universal Music Group. Hence the process and legalities attached to shifting are much simpler than had she inked a deal at a UMG rival group such as Sony or Atlantic.

In any case, it’s always interesting to see what effect, if any, such big business moves will have on an artist’s music and brand.

On the one hand, reliable word tells us Rih’s ship pretty much as been running as a well-oiled machine for sometime, with her own team (within and outside her label) pulling the strings. As such, there’s every chance there won’t actually be much “different” in the grand scheme of things.

That said, on the other hand, there’s the fact that the Roc Nation label is essentially a new entity – a fact which, in itself, carries a degree of risk.

Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. And, it’s confirmed that we won’t have to wait too long, as the model is working on two new albums.

Your thoughts?

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  1. Molly May 5, 2014

    I don’t get why as a journalist you have to throw out these petty shots at Rihanna and Mariah we know you hate them but your site wouldn’t be shitt without them Sam.

    Anyways good for Rihanna i have a love/ hate relationship with her but i will always wish her the best in her career.

  2. Me. I am Cake Like Lady GaGa May 5, 2014

    Zzzzzzzzzz at the tired a** Riherpes shade. Sam you really need to come harder.

    • Molly May 5, 2014

      For once i agree with you BTW i heard your fav killed it last night kudos to gags.

  3. Yaaaassss bish May 5, 2014

    Roc nation is trash and her career will falter because of this lol

  4. Mark111 May 5, 2014

    I’m a Lil worried. But looking at her career, it was built on making the right moves. LA Reid made her a superstar, Jay signed her and Rihanna just has an ear of picking out hits. Looking at Def Jam other artists, it clearly isn’t the label that made Rihanna. And looking how much money they spent on Rita Whora, Rihanna will have great promo. So I’m ready for Rih8.

    • Stephy: Tha Elusive Chanteuse May 5, 2014

      Speak Dat Truth!

      • Mark111 May 5, 2014

        And you better PROMOTE! I have a feeling that the lambs are gonna turn out and make that album #1.

  5. Special Delivery May 5, 2014

    Let the flopping begin…

    • Special Delivery May 5, 2014


    • Polo May 5, 2014

      Don’t tell me you stan for Bridget Kelly with a name like that. Lmao, she’s been flopping on roc nation since she released her first song in 2011. LOL, Rihanna is already an established artist, she’s not like the rest of the flops on that label.

      • Special Delivery May 5, 2014

        No i dont so you could have kept all that. NEXT>>>

  6. Stephy: Tha Elusive Chanteuse May 5, 2014

    Good luck on your new adventure Rihanna (natas)

  7. QUEEN MINAJ♥ May 5, 2014

    goodluck riri. I have support for you girl. And sam pls stop hating on her like seriously it´s geting tired. #justsaying

  8. QUEEN MINAJ♥ May 5, 2014

    And I dont ink she will flop she has a great and strong fan base.

  9. christinastherealtalent May 5, 2014

    I’m not surprised. I think Rih is about to peak and they’re getting out now while they still can and moving on. Just like what Akon did to Gaga. It happens to them all.

    • Mark111 May 5, 2014

      ^Stupid. Rihanna was THE only artist seling on that label year after year. Those rappers can’t even go gold. Def Jam is dead now.

  10. H2O May 5, 2014

    Good luck Rihanna !

    • Stephy: Tha Elusive Chanteuse May 5, 2014

      Still Praying…

  11. julian May 5, 2014

    Yeah I agree with the comments earlier Sam, leave your personal feelings out of articles and stick to the professional journalism that we enjoy!

    Good for Rih! We’ll see if this works out for her career or not

  12. There once was a pimp and his h**… May 5, 2014

    First off, that was some weak ass Rihanna shade in the beginning. Please get some creativity Samantha. Secondly, are they going to put her on some 360 type deal? Record labels do the a lot even to established acts. Although, she is one of the more well established acts so I might be completely wrong.

    • Mark111 May 5, 2014

      I think she just got out of one. RocNation is already a tour act, so they already gonna have a cut in tours.

      • There once was a pimp and his h**… May 5, 2014

        Seems reasonable so you are probably right.

  13. Avenger May 5, 2014

    I’m relieved for Def Jam to finally be rid of that crab-infested train wreck. Time to get back to honoring their real roots as the legendary hip hop label Russell Simmons created, not as some entity that houses a talentless pop star who sounds like a wounded goat.

    • Era of Tin May 5, 2014

      2 Chainz and Rick Ross are happy, I’m sure. Rihanna’s petty yearly releases ate up too much of Def Jam’s budget money.

  14. Jess May 5, 2014

    Well…the singles slayage was fun while it lasted.

  15. ChrisTUNA AguiHAHA May 5, 2014

    Riri can survive anywhere, because she is INTERNATIONAL, unlike someone who album sale stops at 3.2 M

    • Oran May 5, 2014

      Rihanna barely goes platinum in the U.S. Unapologetic just made it by the skins of its teeth.

    • tee May 6, 2014

      @chris >>fool

  16. Rosie May 5, 2014

    Roc Nation is trash, no shade. Best of luck though.

  17. 7 May 5, 2014

    So Jay Z really has full control now.

  18. MISHKA May 5, 2014

    Good for her, although this was her chance to be bold and to go to Interscope or Capitol.

    I’ve always had the sense that Jay-Z feels indebted to her, because he put her on the map and thought she was safe wih Chris then the incident happened. He keeps on protecting her like a godfather. It might be for her to grow up and to go out there for real.

  19. Navy Commander May 5, 2014

    Rihanna will survive , not only is she international, but she is versatile, and pretty much make any type of much sound good and be a hit with the proper promo.

    And roc nation has always been her manger so not much is changing

    • Navy Commander May 5, 2014


      And tgj can’t all about talent when obviously you don’t know how to blog without bein biased

  20. Let’s Be Real May 5, 2014

    This could go REALLY WELL or REALLY BAD. DefJam did an excellent job taking a mediocre Singer and average looking girl and turning her into a BEAUTIFUL CHANTUESE! good luck with the new venture Rih!

    On the other hand…Rihanna is giving me cat woman tease in that pic! In the next few years I’d love to see her take on a cat womanesque s*** b**** villiam role in a movie.

  21. rihanna is BIGGER THN BEYONCE EVER WAS May 5, 2014

    Interscope need new blood. WITH 50, GAGA AND DEL RAY RIH mighty not have thrived there. AT ROC, RIH KNOWS SHE CAN CALL SHOTS, they all fear her. AND, no BEYONCE has not got the power to sabotage her cos she is WAY TO MEGA now.
    NOW, she can finish RITA WHORA OFF once and for all

  22. Rih Rox May 6, 2014

    Rich probably had to leave because that old fat lady was getting very jealous.

    That old fat elephant envies Rihanna… I’m guessing she paid for theSNL sketch…. cause of the radio awards… the NAVY being one of Rih awards…beyFATce pays to try and divert attention away from others….no wonder why she has to work twice as hard….so-called billionaire couple….
    They must owe a lot of money. They don’t even have time to do something about that kids dreadlocks.

    Together all they serve is midlife crisis.

    Good luck Rihanna….I believe you made the right decision.

    • Rih Rox May 6, 2014


      • tee May 6, 2014

        ‘mid life crisis’ IMMATURE/DUMB comment u know her husband is in total control of rih career right? Plus bey has more awards(esp relevant ones) D carters r rih’s godparents. stop fooling urself

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