Hip-hop in South-East Asia is about to enter the next frontier. On 17 September, Adam Granite, Universal Music Group’s (UMG) Executive Vice President, Market Development, formally announced that legendary Malaysian hip-hop label Kartel Records and Universal Music Sdn Bhd have locked arms to form a new entity: Def Jam Malaysia and Def Jam Singapore.


Kartel Records is home to some of the most esteemed and prolific artists in the ecosystem of South-East Asian music. To have the legacy of artists such as Joe Flizzow, arguably the most important name in the tapestry of regional hip-hop, combined with the panoramic reach and resources of UMG, as well as the storied lineage of Def Jam Recordings, marks a new era for the scene and culture not just in Malaysia and Singapore, but for the region as a whole.

Ensuring the credibility and integrity of the newly incepted Def Jam Malaysia and Def Jam Singapore, its organisational structure will see the Kartel vanguard taking up key regional leadership roles. The new appointments are as follows: Joe Flizzow as Managing Director, Def Jam South-East Asia; David Tee as Vice President, A&R and Commercial Def Jam South-East Asia and Yaniz Merican as Vice President, Talent Management & Marketing Def Jam South-East Asia. This managerial upper echelon also warmly welcomes Tang Eu-Jin as Manager, Talent Management & Marketing. He will steer Def Jam Malaysia as it recruits new talent into the fold, while aiding in the continued ascent of its existing artists.

Already, Def Jam Malaysia and Def Jam Singapore has a spectrum-blasting array of talent in its inaugural stable: Joe Flizzow, SonaOne, AbubakarXLI, Caprice & the Badboii collective from Malaysia and ALIF, Fariz Jabba and Yung Raja from Singapore. And this musical firepower will only expand over time.

Alif & SonaOne

Yung Raja


Joe Flizzow

Fariz Jabba 


 South-East Asian hip-hop is not an overnight phenomenon. It’s the sum total of all the struggles its artists have had to overcome and all the accolades they’ve amassed to validate the craft. The creation of Def Jam Malaysia and Def Jam Singapore is a powerful acknowledgment of that. As Joe Flizzow says, “For the last 20 years, a lot of sweat, blood and tears have gone into building what we can now call the ASEAN hip-hop industry. Def Jam South-East Asia represents the next chapter in my illustrious career and I am truly blessed to be part of this brand that has contributed so much and helped shaped the culture. It is time for South-East Asian hip-hop to be heard all over the world. It's time to create history”.