Def Jam Records Signs Rap Luminary Keith Murray

By | June 20, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Less than one month after being released from prison, Keith Murray, pioneering rapper and one of the most recognizable stars of hip-hop, has entered into an exclusive recording deal with Def Jam Records. This announcement was made by Lyor Cohen, President of Island Def Jam Music Group and co-founder of Def Jam Records.

A Long Island, New York native, Keith Murray quickly rose to prominence in 1994 with the release of his debut single, “The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World,” which shot directly to the top of the charts. In 1995, he released his first album, titled after his hit single, which was certified gold and established Murray’s prowess as a songwriter, rapper and musician. A year later, he delivered his second album, Enigma, to critical acclaim. His charismatic presence and commanding delivery were even further solidified on his third record, It’s a Beautiful Thing, in 1998. Murray is also one of the founding members of the Def Squad, along with Def Jam artist Redman and former EPMD member Erick Sermon. Their first record, El Nino, released in 1998, unleashed the raw street-wise power of this seminal rap group with such hit singles as “Full Cooperation,” “The Game” and “Rapper’s Delight.” Murray has worked with the likes of R. Kelly on “Home Alone,” which soared to the top of the charts and Mary J. Blige on her classic chart topping hit “Happy.”

“The impact of Def Jam can be felt wherever you go, whether it’s in a playground up in Harlem or in a club in downtown Tokyo,” stated Murray. “Being part of such a precedent-setting music and lifestyle-making organization is what I’m about. What made me choose Def Jam over everyone else was that Lyor and his team believed in my vision as an artist, songwriter and musician. Within Def Jam, there exists a sense of creative freedom that you simply don’t find anywhere else. What more could any artist want?”

“Def Jam is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with an artist like Keith who continuously breaks new ground with every record he makes,” commented Cohen. “As a gifted and passionate songwriter and recording artist, he has become a driving force in rap music and a national treasure. And we are so honored to be playing a part in what is sure to be his next big success.”

Murray has just been released from prison, after serving 30 months of a five-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Back in January of 1997, Murray was wrongfully convicted for the assault of a tour promoter in a Connecticut nightclub during which a melee of 40-50 patrons took place. Murray’s attorney, Joseph A. Moniz, tracked down an eyewitness to the melee, Corey Pace, who refuted the testimony of the government’s star witness, the plaintiff David Hughes, and established the truth that Murray was not involved in the melee whatsoever. Pace also testified that he didn’t come forward at the ’97 trial because he was offered a significant amount of money by the Hughes family in exchange for concealing this information from authorities.

Def Jam Records is a division of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest leading music company with wholly-owned record operations or licensees in 63 countries around the world. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry’s largest global music publishing operations.

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