Riggs Morales, an accomplished executive and producer known for his A&R and artist development work, has been named Executive Vice President, A&R at Def Jam Recordings, a division of Universal Music Group (UMG).
The announcement was made on Tuesday (November 28) by Tunji Balogun, Chairman & CEO of Def Jam Recordings. Morales will report directly to Balogun in New York.
Morales, known for his tenures at Atlantic Records and Eminem’s Shady Records, brings a wealth of experience to Def Jam. His track record includes 17 Grammy nominations (including three wins), nearly 70 million units in global sales, and numerous gold and platinum certifications.
His notable collaborations include working with iconic artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Janelle Monáe, and, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, contributing to the Grammy-winning, diamond-certified Broadway cast album of Hamilton: An American Musical.
Rigo “Riggs” Morales most recently served as Senior Vice President, A&R & Artist Development, at Atlantic Records. He joined the company in 2014 as Vice President, A&R & Artist Development. His work at Atlantic resulted in two Grammy nominations for Wiz Khalifa and an Album of the Year Grammy nomination for Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer. Additionally, Morales played a key role in signing and co-producing the Grammy-winning Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording, which won the Grammy Award for Best Musical and is now certified diamond by the RIAA.
Morales then executive-produced the all-star project The Hamilton Mixtape, which was released in 2016.
Prior to Atlantic, Morales worked with Goliath Artists, Inc., overseeing a roster that included Eminem, Cypress Hill, Xzibit, The Alchemist, and DJ Muggs. His stint at Shady Records, where he was appointed Director of A&R, contributed to the label’s global success with Eminem and 50 Cent.
Morales’ journey in the music industry began as a journalist, documenting the hip-hop scene for publications such as The Source Magazine, Vibe, XXL, and The Fader. Notably, he gained recognition for his ‘Unsigned Hype’ column at The Source, where he introduced readers to an aspiring rapper from Detroit named Eminem in 1998.
“Growing up in New York City, Def Jam has served as a touchstone in my life for longer than I can remember,” said Morales.
“In my time as both a journalist and an executive, Def Jam has always been the pinnacle, the iconic hip-hop label, and the blueprint for others to follow.”
Riggs Morales, Def Jam Recordings
“In my time as both a journalist and an executive, Def Jam has always been the pinnacle, the iconic hip-hop label, and the blueprint for others to follow. The roster and the culture that Tunji has built over the past two years is exactly where the future of this great label needs to lead – global, diverse, dynamic and artist-forward.”
“As Def Jam heads into its fortieth year, I look forward to bringing my energy and passion to the team at this pivotal and exciting moment in the story of one of the greatest labels of all time,” Morales added.
Apart from his new role at Def Jam, Morales is an active member of The Recording Academy, having served as Vice President of The New York Chapter and as Trustee on the National Board. In October 2020, he played a role in establishing the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective, dedicated to the inclusion, recognition, and advancement of Black music and its creators within the Recording Academy.
During the same year, he was named among the external members of the board of directors of the Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund, which supports charitable causes. In January 2021, Billboard recognized Morales as a Change Agent for 2020, acknowledging his social justice work in the music space.
“From his work with Shady Records, to his alliances with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Janelle Monae, to his time as an influential journalist, Riggs’ contributions to the culture are the stuff of legend.”
Tunji Balogun, Def Jam Recordings
“Armed with an instinct for creative development that keeps his artists first, Riggs has carved out a unique place for himself in our business, along with an absolutely blockbuster resume,” said Balogun.
“Our relationship spans over a decade, and I have always been impressed by his instincts, energy, and creativity. From his work with Shady Records, to his alliances with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Janelle Monáe, to his time as an influential journalist, Riggs’ contributions to the culture are the stuff of legend. We’re excited to welcome Riggs to the Def Jam family.”
Morales’ appointment follows the promotion of Corey Williams to Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, at Def Jam Recordings, in April. In September 2022, the company appointed Mike Hamilton as Senior Vice President, Streaming & Commerce, and in July of last year, it named Larry Gaaga as Vice President, A&R.
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