When the announcement was made that Def Jam was hiring No I.D. as the VP of A&R, it was a moment of personal satisfaction. For starters, like No I.D., I am from the Chicagoland area and it’s refreshing to see an often forgotten city in the three coast (East, West and Gulf) Hip Hop sphere have one of its most enduring and brightest stars get some much-deserved shine.
Aside from my apparent bias, No I.D. is a producer from an era -and ideology, for that matter- long gone in Hip Hop; but, he’s making commercially viable music and is arguably busier than ever in his career. He started at a time where a producer produced all or at least a vast majority of an artist’s album (see Common’s first three albums No I.D. produced for a reference). Similar to how DJ Muggs influenced Alchemist and bridged a gap between “old” and “new,” it was partly his mentoring, tutelage and talent that inspired No I.D.’s student, Kanye West, who took what No I.D. had been doing and introduced it to a global audience. Not letting his ego hamper the development of Kanye, Mr. West’s career took off! Don’t get it confused, though, No I.D. was not off the radar at this time as he teamed up with Jermaine Dupri and was co-producing records for Bow Wow and Jay-Z. After the American Gangster project, Kanye and No I.D. have joined forces once again and have gone on to make memorable records for Blueprint 3, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Watch the Throne. This ability to mentor a future superstar is but one reason No I.D. is a good fit to oversee those who are cultivating talent at Def Jam. This man was doing it when it wasn’t, so to speak, part of his job description.