Queens is in the building — again. Sha Money XL has signed on to become the senior VP of A&R at Def Jam Records. The label has had such a rich history of Queens-bred fellas in the boardroom, from its founder Russell Simmons to Irv Gotti to one of Sha's mentors, the late Jam Master Jay. XL is excited to plant his flag in the cherished hip-hop recording house.
"I've been floating around this industry since I've just been executive-producing 50 [Cent]'s albums," XL explained Thursday at the MTV offices. "Freelancing, doing my own thing. I've been able to meet with L.A. Reid. We've been having some great conversations. Finally, the call came. It felt so good. Def Jam is such a strong company and strong roster. The staff is amazing. I felt it instantly. I knew that this is something I can do with my New York vision and New York swag and bring that for all the guys that's based out here. And the things that was needed to excite the industry as well, internally and externally. I connect with everybody by all levels."
Sha said that after being with the G-Unit for so many years, there is no such thing as pressure to him anymore.
"I work good under pressure," he said. "Working with 50, I know what needs to get done. I don't feel pressure. I do the things that need to be done. As long as artists listen and we really become businessmen in this business, as we say we are, I think we should all prosper. I'm looking to make the company more money and take it to the top, the highest level."
So with 50 Cent a free agent, free to bring himself and his label — which includes Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo — anywhere he pleases, will Sha try to secure a spot for his longtime friends at Def Jam?
"I spoke to Fif, to [his manager Chris] Lighty. I would love to see that there," Sha admitted. "Banks has an amazing record right now, independently. If things work out, then yeah, I would love to see that happen."
If the Unit came to Def Jam, things would get interesting, to say the least. Shyne, Rick Ross, Nas and DJ Khaled, people who Fif and the Unit have had problems with through the years, are all on the roster.
"I'm a businessman," Sha Money said when asked how he would feel having the Unit in the same building with some of their adversaries. "The beef stuff, I'm over. We at a certain point in life where we don't even need that. We eat that. So I will let them speak for their own, but honestly, I would like to see a company continue to grow. And I think G-Unit is in a position — coming from an independent space — that can continue to do their thing. I would like to provide an opportunity for them to continue to grow."
While the Unit deal is just in the talking stages now, Sha says his top priority is making sure Juelz Santana gets his LP out. XL already has his sights set on DJ Toomp to get in the lab with Juelz.