Def Jam Records Started With A Smash. 30 Years Ago Today T La Rock Declared It’s Yours

The same week that LL Cool J hosted the Grammy Awards, there is another important memory milestone for Def Jam Records. Thirty years ago today (January 28), the label started by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin (in a New York University dorm room), released blockbuster single “It’s Yours” by Manhattan/Bronx MC T La Rock.


La Rock’s involvement with Hip-Hop dates back to the ’70s. The older brother of Treacherous Three member Special K, T teamed with producer Rick Rubin (as well as The Soulsonic Force’s Jazzy J) to produce his famed single. Although released on Partytime Records, “It’s Yours” sported a Def Jam logo, made famous throughout the decade to come, especially through films like Krush Groove. Although an important benchmark for Rick and Def Jam, the record would never be in the catalog vaults of the label that would soon after release “I Need A Beat” by LL.

Linking with Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records (also a home to EPMD, Mantronix, and Nice & Smooth), T released Lyrical King (From The Boogie Down Bronx) in 1987, and On A Warpath in 1989. He remains active in the Hip-Hop community, and still records today. Jazzy Jay would go on to work with the fellow Bronx natives, Diggin’ In The Crates in the late ’80s and early ’90s, including Lord Finesse, Diamond D, and Showbiz & A.G. He is prominently featured in the documentary film Scratch.

Rick Rubin would go on to produce smash hits in nearly every popular genre, working with Johnny Cash, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Slayer, and Jay Z. In 2013, he worked closely on Kanye West’s Yeezus, Jay’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP 2.

In the years that followed, “It’s Yours” was sampled by Rubin on The Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere,” as well as Public Enemy’s “Louder Than A Bomb,” both Def Jam releases. Nas also sampled the record on his “The World Is Yours.”

Wu-Tang Clan and Mystikal both paid homage to the seminal old-school Hip-Hop record, something that ultimately led its way to Drake’s “Wu-Tang Forever” single last year.

AFH salutes T La Rock and a records Heads will never stop spinning.


Related: Def Jam Records Playlist