How Def Rugs Landed on the Floors of Legendary Hip-Hop Spaces

Erick Sermon and Marshall Fox saw a business opportunity that had never been done before

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Def Rugs

Erick Sermon and Marshall Fox were unlikely to ever cross paths and go into business together, but their shared love for music brought a producer and a fiber artist from completely different backgrounds to the same table. Sermon is well known as a former producer and artist of the legendary hip-hop group EPMD. Fox is a third-generation in the family carpet store Fox Floors but had simultaneously worked as a DJ since 1991. Being plugged into the hip-hop community, Fox was requested with a task by Sermon’s sister to produce a Def Squad rug. That was nearly seven years ago, and the same night that Def Rugs was born.

Through blending their passion for hip-hop and carpet, Sermon and Fox have befriended and made rugs for many of the music industry’s top talent. The task isn’t simple. Fox describes his process as anywhere between six hours to a few weeks, making each rug by hand with a carpet razor blade and working on them little by little throughout the day in between waiting on retail customers at the store. With a tagline of hip-hop from the ground up, Def Rugs is doing just that, especially through their line of licensed rugs. “It’s our way of giving back to the culture and great to know our legends have something from us that they can cherish for generations,” Fox tells ONE37pm. We wanted to learn all about the customizable carpet company that landed on the floors of legendary hip-hop spaces.

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ONE37pm: How did you guys meet?

Marshall Fox: We were introduced around 2001 by Erick’s sister, Kim. I was the audio engineer working on a project for Kim & Roz (Roz is the sister of the rapper Redman), and Kim invited me to Long Island to play Erick my beats in his studio.

What were you doing before Def Rugs?

Fox: By night, I was a producer and DJ, working on my album and going by the name of Xing N Fox. We were almost done producing an album featuring tons of Golden Era legends. By day, I was and still am working at Fox Floors, the family carpet store in New Jersey. I was doing everything it took to run the business, from waiting on customers to warehousing.

Erick Sermon: Before Def Rugs, I had been raising my children, touring and going to the studio to make records for Redman, Method Man, Rick Ross and others in the music business, including myself.

Tell us about the product you're most proud of producing.

Fox: I’m proud to take something as boring as a piece of carpet, something I’ve been around my whole life, and combine it with my love for music. My biggest drive has been my dad. I just want to be able to show him I can do my own thing with my own twist while making a name for myself in the carpet business, rather than just being handed over a family business. Also, since I don’t DJ anymore, when I make a rug, I get that same feeling when someone sees it and appreciates the art and the subject of the rug, the same feeling I would get from the crowd when dropping a fire record at a club.

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Who are some of the most notable people you’ve produced rugs for?

Fox: It’s a crazy list. Hundreds of hip-hop legends, icons and pioneers from Grandmaster Caz to Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent. We’ve even made waves into the new hip-hop era with clients like Lil Baby to Fatboy SSE and Wiz Khalifa. Even though hip-hop is our foundation, we’ve also made rugs for Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr. and countless others. Even Warren Buffett proudly hangs a Def Rug in his office.

What marketing tactics did you use to get your product in front of big-timers in hip-hop?

Fox: Our marketing tactic has simply been to spread the love and give back, all while showing fans of these artists pictures and commentary of their favorite artist appreciating our work. We’re doing it for the culture and from the heart and that resonates with the base we’re trying to reach.

What sets your company apart from competitors?

Fox: We’re not just some random company trying to make a quick buck off of hip-hop culture. We live and represent every aspect of the product we put out. There are too many companies out there bootlegging off of artists and trademarks. When you buy a licensed Def Rug, you can be happy to know that you will be supporting that artist directly from the licensed proceeds. Additionally, when you combine a hip-hop legend and a top carpet artist who loves and appreciates hip-hop, you will see our work ethic is unmatched because we love what we do and it doesn’t feel like work.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a founder/CEO?

Fox: I’ve learned that if you love what you do, it doesn’t matter how many years it takes. Win or fail, just follow your passion and it will all fall into place like eventually.

Sermon: I learned that everything takes a long time. It’s been five years, and we’re finally just getting recognized even though we’ve made rugs for almost the entire industry since the start. 

What’s one aspect of your job that you knew nothing about? How did you adapt?

Fox: Working with musical geniuses on a business level can be tough. When they’re in their zone, in the studio or on tour, communication can sometimes be difficult. I’ve come to accept that and realize everyone has their own way of doing things, you just have to be patient. Like EPMD says, “business never personal.”

Where do you want Def Rugs to be in the next five years?

Fox: After about eight years of promoting and branding, we’re now ready to start launching our line of licensed rugs to the masses. We plan on having a deep catalog of logo rugs as well as a lot of limited edition releases in stores, boutiques, online and at art galleries.

Def Rugs

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