Kardinal Offishall Goes Global As A Star In Def Jam's Exec Suite
Award-winning artist and producer Kardinal Offishall (ne Jason Drew Harrow) has been named Global A&R lead for NYC-based R&B imprint Def Jam Recordings, where he is working directly with CEO Tuni Balogun and EVP LaTrice Burnette.
In a statement about his new appointment, Offishall said, “I grew up on all the legendary music that had a home here (at Def Jam)–from LL Cool J and DMX to Benny the Butcher and 2 Chainz. The company has an incredible legacy, and I'm looking forward to working with the new superstars, as well as the … legacy acts.”
Offishall became a staple in the international music scene in the late 2000s with features on hit records such as Akon’s Beautiful, Lady Gaga’s Just Dance and his own single Dangerous, which peaked Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts and in doing so made him the first rapper from Canada to do so.
He participated early on in the careers of Rihanna, Alex Da Kid, T-Pain, Vybz Kartel, Estelle, and Sean Paul and became a cultural and musical ambassador for a new wave of Canadian superstars, working with Drake, K’naan, Daniel Caesar, Boi-1da, and Glenn Lewis.
Over the last decade, Offishall diversified his portfolio by adding executive to his rapper, producer and philanthropist repertoire. Outside of A&R function, he has acted as a judge on Canada’s Got Talent. Last year the show became Citytv’s biggest original series of the past decade, attracting about 1.4 million viewers per episode.
As per the media release: “Working for the legendary Def Jam Recordings label allows Kardinal to help grow and compliment the cutting-edge label that launched stars like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, and established its dominance with a range of superstar acts like Jay-Z, DMX, Rihanna, Pusha T, Big Sean, and Jeremih, among many, many others. Big up to Tunji, LaTrice, Eric Hutcherson, Michelle Anthony, Sir Lucian (Grange) and the entire UMG family who helped make this happen. I will physically be in the US and across the globe on a regular basis, as per usual, but Toronto will always be home. Been working...and I can't wait for y’all to see what we have cooking. Rocking wit' the winning team!"
Separately, on Instagram, he posted: " Big up @tunji @tricerocbklyn and the whole @defjam family! We on a mission to bring y’all the best artists from around the world and shift culture, with the amazing talents we discover, nurture and partner with. It is a massive privilege to continue to help bring creatives’ visions to the world.
Thank you to my team, family, friends and fans for being in my corner. This time last year, I was in a hospital bed and couldn’t walk more than a few steps. To whomever is reading this: speak your dreams into existence and keep God first. Give thanks to the most high."
In 2013, Offishall became the creative executive director of Universal Music Canada's A&R team. In 2021, he was named Sr. VP A&R for UMC.
– ‘A dream experience’: Kardinal Offishall joins Def Jam Recordings as new Global A&R – Richie Assaly, Toronto Star
– Kardinal Offishall joins Def Jam as Global A&R – Tai Saint-Louis, HipHop DX
– Kardinal Offishall joins Def Jam as Global A&R – Louis Pavlakos, Complex Canada