Chris Hicks named Def Jam executive VP

Reports directly to Antonio "L.A." Reid

NEW YORK -- Chris Hicks has been named executive vice president at Def Jam Records. Hicks was previously senior VP of A&R for Warner Music Group and Warner Chappell Music.

Hicks, a Richmond, California native-cum-Atlanta resident, began in the music industry with his independent entertainment company, Noontime, home to songwriters Johnta Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox. He's also co-managed Usher and Mary J. Blige. Hicks will report directly to Island Def Jam chairman and CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid.

Hicks will be replacing Def Jam's previous senior VP, Shakir Stewart, who committed suicide in November. The post has remained vacant though Island Def Jam promoted Jeff Straughn to senior VP of strategic marketing in November, and many speculated that Straughn would be Stewart's replacement.

Straughn most recently brokered the company's partnership with Tag Body Spray to collectively promote artists through product branding.

Before Stewart, Jay-Z served as the Def Jam President for three years and he is still signed to IDJ as an artist though the MC departed Def Jam as an executive in 2007. He is currently taking his time recording his final album for IDJ, "Blueprint 3," and no release date has been announced. In May 2008, Jay-Z signed a $150 million "360" deal over 10 years with Live Nation.

Island Def Jam had no comment at press time.