Rodney Shealey


Def Jam Executive Vice President Rodney Shealey is a self-proclaimed “Brooklyn Boy” through and through. Growing up between Bedford-Stuyvesant and East Flatbush, Shealey lived and learned the impact of music in proximity to some of the earliest acts to popularize rap. Stamped with the rich history of hip-hop culture, these early experiences turned young Shealey into a music aficionado. Decades later, this childhood passion has transformed into an enduring career as one of the most accomplished and esteemed executives in the music industry. From strategizing artist development for some of the biggest musical acts to executing promotions and radio placements for chart-topping hits, Shealey continues to make an indelible mark on the music world as a seasoned tastemaker and cultural conduit. 

Shealey’s career trajectory has been punctuated with a number of colorful experiences. He started out in the ‘90s working as a roadie, carrying bags, and packing trucks for various hip-hop groups and artists on tour. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Shealey was introduced to Sharon Heyward, a seasoned music executive who gave him his first opportunity in the industry at Virgin Records. From there, Shealey went on to hold positions at both Perspective Records and Epic Records, where he was appointed Senior Vice President of Promotion under the late Polly Anthony. To this day, he credits much of his early success to Heyward and Anthony, who gave him a chance despite a lack of experience. Over the course of his career, Shealey has been fortunate to work with and learn from a plethora of other notable executives, including Tommy Mottola, L.A. Reid, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Steve Bartels, Barry Weiss, Paul Rosenberg, Michelle Anthony, and Jason Flom. 

Shealey’s tenure at Def Jam began in 2007 when he was hired as a Vice President of Promotion. Despite having previously served as SVP at both Epic and Virgin, Shealey humbly accepted his new role as a supporting pillar in one of the industry’s most iconic labels. In his fourteen years with Def Jam Recordings, Shealey has traversed the internal ladder with a series of promotions. He was appointed SVP of Promotion in 2010, EVP of Urban Promotion in 2014, and following that appointment, Shealey was elevated to EVP of Def Jam Recordings where he oversaw all aspects of the label: social and digital marketing, commerce, promotion, branding, and creative and cultural marketing. Shealey has become known among label staff and industry peers as a firm yet friendly leader with a masterful ear for new talent and an unrelenting commitment to authentic artist development.  

While no one moment can define his journey, Shealey is most proud of having endured an unforgiving, tumultuous business while navigating its ever-changing path into the digital age.

Throughout his career, he has been instrumental in helping to develop the careers of some of the iconic artists of this generation, including but not limited to Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Jay Z, Kanye, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Sade, Frank Ocean, Jhene Aiko, Janet Jackson, Big Sean, 2Chainz, Toni Braxton and many more. Forever a music-lover, Shealey continues to amplify neophyte and veteran artists in pursuit of music that pushes the culture forward.