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I Need a Beat: 40 Years of Def Jam Recordings

Forty years ago, Def Jam Recordings was founded in a dorm room on NYU’s campus. That bit of college student ambition would send shockwaves through music history which are still being felt and still coming to shore. It would help usher hip-hop from an underground NYC music to the dominant form of pop music across the globe.
To celebrate the label’s anniversary, VMP has partnered with DJR on I Need a Beat: 40 Years of Def Jam Recordings, a 5-album, 9-LP box set that tells slivers of the Def Jam Recordings story, providing snapshots of the label as it went from dorm room to boardroom to nearly every room on earth.
Strictly limited to 750 units, it will never be repressed. Own this piece of Def Jam Recording History now.

NOTE: Please purchase this product individually, as it cannot be combined with other products in our store.

Orders are expected to ship in December 2024. Timeline is subject to change. We will notify you of any shipping updates.

A story told through five albums, featuring rappers who contributed to the Def Jam Recordings story in ways small and big.

The goal with this box was not to try to capture the full scope of Def Jam Recordings 40 years; hip-hop has evolved something like ten times during the label’s lifetime. Instead, we wanted to focus on albums that captured snapshots of the label through its upheavals, high points, and transitions. It covers the label’s emergence from its NYC-centric boom-bap heyday with some of its earliest stars (EPMD and Public Enemy). It continues with the label turning its eyes southward (Scarface) while launching the best New York rapper of this century (Cam’ron), ending with the label’s best young MC on top of his game (Vince Staples).

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Andrew Winistorfer, I Need a Beat Executive Producer and VMP Senior Director of Music & Editorial

Mic Check…

VMP Anthology goes beyond the five albums included in your box. Alongside your box and the albums within it, we provide in-depth, original Listening Notes. Featuring an introduction by Jeff Weiss and contributions from Jaelani Turner-Williams, Michael Penn II, and Dylan Green, the booklet will serve as a guide through these albums. VMP Anthology isn’t just a box set that’s supposed to gather dust on your shelves — it’s an immersive and transformative story that comes alive for you to spend weeks (or longer!) inside of. We can’t wait for you to dive deeper into Def Jam Recordings’ history and the albums in this box.

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Business As Usual (1990)
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Public Enemy
Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black (1991)
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Come Home With Me (2002)
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The Fix (2002)
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Vince Staples
Big Fish Theory (2017)

What's Included

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Exclusive Color Vinyl
This VMP Anthology is strictly limited to 750 units on exclusive color vinyl. The five albums have been remastered by Cicely Balston at Alchemy Mastering.
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Four Hip-Hop Music Writers Connect
Read the story of these five albums in a very special 20 page Listening Notes and photo booklet, with an intro from Jeff Weiss and mini-essays on the albums by Jaelani Turner-Williams, Michael Penn II, and Dylan Green.
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Premium Commemorative Box
Designed in-house at VMP, these records are house in a deluxe slipcase, inspired by the origins of hip-hop. It will look great on any shelf brave enough to house it.
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How Was The Audio Sourced?

Lacquers for all of the albums were cut from the highest quality digital sources available by Cicely Balston at Alchemy Mastering.

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Listening Notes

Get the full story of Def Jam Recordings through our Listening Notes booklet. The booklet found in your box covers the story of Def Jam Recordings from its inception to its modern era via a roster of four music writers.


Got a question?

VMP Anthology is the vinyl box set, reinvented. It aims to use music to tell a story, and gives space for lots of listening, learning, and conversation along the way.
Nope! We built VMP Anthology as a way for all fans to experience music more deeply, and VMP membership is not required.
Shipping is free in the U.S. and $30 internationally. Records will be sent in one shipment. Orders are expected to ship in December 2024. Timeline is subject to change. We will notify you of any shipping updates.
Afterpay is an interest-free financing option that allows you to make four bi-weekly (every two weeks) installment payments rather than one upfront payment. If you choose Afterpay at checkout, you will be redirected to the Afterpay site to create an account and to complete your payment. You won’t be charged any interest or fees, as long as your payments are made on time. At this time, Afterpay is only available for customers in the United States.
VMP started as a record of the month club in 2013 and has expanded into an online record store and magazine.
To get the Member Price, you must be an active VMP Member for our monthly record subscription (and make sure you are logged in).
Yes, shipping is available in 16 countries in addition to the U.S. (view all FAQs for more details). Due to the box value and carrier constraints, international customers are responsible for customs and duties. When shipping to a country that is subject to VAT, this will also be due upon receipt.

I Need a Beat: 40 Years of Def Jam Recordings

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