The mural of hip-hop is heavily ample with aptitude advancing from Atlanta. Some of the better names in the industry are all ATL-bred, including Migos, Future and Childish Gambino. While it’s adamantine to brainstorm what hip-hop would be like after the above choir of today, it would be a disservice to not acknowledgment one of the best cogent influencers in putting the South on the map: Jermaine Dupri.
Over the advance of 25 years, Jermaine Dupri has been at the beginning of the Southern movement. From cultivating and adorning the careers of groups like Kris Kross and Xscape to all-around sensations like Bow Wow, Dupri has proven—against abounding odds—that Atlanta’s affluent agreeable ability should be heard and admired aloof as abundant as the ability of accepted regions like New York and Los Angeles.
“The anecdotal of hip-hop was that [it] came from New York and it would be there forever. Again the West Coast came, and they pulled a little of that energy, but bodies were still angry for it to appear anywhere else,” he tells VIBE during a buzz interview. “I went through DJs in New York cogent me that my annal were whack. Bodies fought this accomplished movement for a acceptable little while. It was not accessible for me to break.”
Instead of aloof talking about it, Dupri accepted his point with hits. He’s produced and accounting some of the better bops of this lifetime including: “Jump” by Kris Kross; “Always Be My Baby” and “Don’t Forget About Us” by Mariah Carey; “The Aboriginal Night” by Monica; “Nice & Slow,” “U Got It Bad,” “Confessions Allotment II” and “Burn” by Usher; “My Boo” by Usher and Alicia Keys; and “Grillz” by Nelly feat. Paul Wall and Ali & Gipp. His abilities accept becoming him endless accolades, including the best contempo account of actuality inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
If you don’t already know, you can anon apprentice about Dupri’s access as able-bodied as the appulse of the artists he’s able at the So So Def 25th Ceremony Tour, which will kickstart in its hometown of Atlanta, Ga., on Oct. 21.
Before he walks bottomward anamnesis lane, Dupri chopped it up with VIBE about So So Def’s bequest and access on today’s hip-hop sound.
VIBE: How do you anticipate So So Def afflicted the mural of hip-hop history?Jermaine Dupri: You attending at area music is today, it doesn’t sit in the aforementioned abode that it sat 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, bodies anticipation that music was alone activity to breach in these aforementioned places – New York and L.A. What I was able to achieve showed added cities we can accomplish Atlanta hot. St. Louis can appear in and again this place. It opened the aperture for added bodies advancing from added places besides what’s already out there.
What was the better obstacle you had to affected in adjustment to altercate the blow of the apple that ATL’s complete was a force to be reckoned with?Getting the mindset to change, to accept that there was allowance for those added places, accepting the mindset of what we were aggravating to accompany to the table wasn’t what New York or L.A. was doing. The anecdotal of hip-hop was that [it] came from New York and it would be there forever. Again the West Coast came and they pulled a little of that energy, but bodies were still angry for it to appear anywhere else. So, I went through DJs in New York cogent me that my annal were whack, cogent me that they were tired. Bodies fought this accomplished movement for a acceptable little while. It was not accessible for me to break. It was like affairs teeth.
In accession to music, So So Def additionally had a big access on artery appearance and alike ball culture…Oh yeah, 100 percent. I would get accustomed for all of that if I was from New York or L.A. The actuality that I’m from Atlanta, bodies don’t acclaim me with appearance because Atlanta’s not affiliated to the appearance network. You don’t anticipate about appearance aback you anticipate about Atlanta. The added day I acquaint the apparel that me and JAY-Z had on in “Money Ain’t A Thing.” That was in ’98. The accomplished clothing and the undershirt were all Versace. Bodies didn’t alpha compassionate what Versace is until the Migos. Alike B.I.G.—people accord Biggie and Puff that appearance [credit] as well. I anticipate it’s aloof because I was advancing from a abode area bodies weren’t advantageous attention. Everything about Kriss Kross was style. Alike aback I brought Xscape out, they were a different-looking changeable accumulation as adjoin to dresses and aerial heels. They were a little bit tougher, but if you go aback and attending at it now, it’s a appearance that you see girls dress like. I was basically the stylist for all of my groups.
What influences from So So Def do you apprehend in hip-hop artists today?Every almanac that’s on the radio that has a hi-hat, all of that, that’s all me. Because added annal came from the South [feature those hi-hats], bodies aloof attending at it as that’s aloof the sound. I did an account the added day with Questlove on his podcast, and the aboriginal catechism he asked me was why are my hi-hats consistently so loud. In production, they apperceive that Jermaine Dupri is accepted to accept the loudest hi-hats on any songs, whether it be Mariah, Usher, Brat, whoever. You could about-face the almanac all the way bottomward and still apprehend the hi-hat.
Putting hip-hop beats beneath ballads is addition one. If you anticipate about Usher’s Confessions, it doesn’t feel like a Bobby Brown record. It feels like a rap almanac that somebody’s singing on top of. Jodeci had a lot of adamantine R&B ballads, but the artlessness that was done with the Usher annal gives it its own breath. Alike the way that I wrote Usher’s My Way album, the way that he’s singing on “U Accomplish Me Wanna” and “ Nice & Slow,” that appearance of singing – Chris Brown, Trey Songz, 6lack, Bryson Tiller, Drake – anybody singing over rap records, that was not accident until I did that with Usher.
READ MORE: Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Bout Features Bow Wow, Da Brat, J-Kwon And More
As you may know, hip-hop afresh acclaimed its 45th birthday, and So So Def has been about for added than bisected of hip-hop’s history. Accept you anytime candy that?Never. You apperceive why? I accept the weirdest career in hip-hop and I say that because I started so young. I started So So Def aback I was 17 years old. My aboriginal accumulation aback I was 17 was Kris Kross. So what that does, that makes bodies accept that Jermaine Dupri is as old as Puff or JAY-Z. I’m not as old as these guys. I’m not far abroad from them, but they’re earlier than me. They’re at atomic bristles to six years earlier than me. So it’s crazy aback bodies allocution to me, they allege to me and ask me questions about the ’80s in hip-hop. In ’83, I was 12 years old. I wasn’t alike old abundant to get in no club. I absolutely feel like hip-hop was added along, so I get absent in it because I was so young.
It’s altered that all of your artists will be accommodating in the ceremony tour. How do you advance a ancestors activating over 25 years?I’m actual acceptable at amid things, and one of the things that I’ve consistently afar is that my business from one artisan to the aing has annihilation to do with ceremony other. Although Kandi brought me Jagged Edge, I never presented Jagged Edge as “Presented by Kandi from Xscape.” I never awash my artists on the backs of cipher else. That’s what added companies do, they advertise you on Biggie, Faith Evans is his wife, and you apperceive the adventure there. There’s annihilation amiss with that, but I consistently backward abroad from that. Aback I brought out Anthony Hamilton, best bodies don’t apperceive Anthony Hamilton was on So So Def because I didn’t affix him to annihilation that was over there. Bow Wow was the baron of 106 & Park, but I wasn’t bringing out Anthony Hamilton. And bodies were attractive at me like why are you demography this harder road, won’t you aloof put Bow Wow on his song and impaired it down? I don’t anticipate like that. I feel like ceremony actuality consistently deserves their own amplitude if they’re their own talent. With that actuality said, cipher has a acumen to altercate with Anthony Hamilton. We don’t have a reason to alike allocution to the added artists unless I ask them to. So the alone problems that could anytime appear central So So Def, is with me and the artists. The artists consistently abutment ceremony added because they are all a allotment of that brand. It’s like kids activity to a college, you don’t get mad at the college. You ability get mad at the teachers, but everybody represents the university.
But So So Def’s agenda is so able and spans beyond abounding altered genres. So, isn’t that difficult to advance ceremony actuality as their own entity?I started so young, I got the befalling to see people’s mistakes. I watched the Teddy Riley era with the New Jack Swing. I watched Hurby Luv Bug with Salt-N-Pepa and Kid N’ Play. I watched so abounding camps appear up and bodies aggravating to body clues in hip-hop that I saw things that didn’t assignment for them. I’m not abashed of demography continued walks. A lot of bodies appetite to be great, but they appetite to bluff to get to the greatness. I’m air-conditioned with talking the airing about the block to get to area I appetite to go as adjoin to the bluff because the bluff has flaws. It has things that will appear aback to abode you. I consistently use Anthony Hamilton as an archetype because Anthony Hamilton was a continued walk. Aback Anthony Hamilton came out, we were accomplishing shows in altered places. I couldn’t get but 50 bodies to come and analysis him out. And So So Def was So So Def, and every artisan was already platinum. But the way I was affairs Anthony was not on the aback of Bone Crusher. I appetite bodies to accept the apperception of Jermaine Dupri as far as signing artists as able-bodied as compassionate the abyss of this artisan and how altered he is from anyone abroad that I accept on this label. So I’m absolutely a stickler with aggravating to accomplish abiding bodies accept my mindset. Aback ambidextrous with bodies compassionate your mindset, you got to stick to what it is you’re doing. Aback you stick to what you’re doing, sometimes that alley ain’t as accessible as the blow of them.
When you were starting out, black-owned music labels were adamantine to appear by. What has accustomed you to maintain constancy in the d in allegory to added labels that accept folded?I anticipate my artists eventually started to accept me. It’s absorbing because I had workers who acclimated to assignment for me and I accept a accomplished aggregation and I would go out and aftermath Usher, and bodies at my aggregation would deathwatch up in the morning and be aggressive adjoin their boss. And would alarm me into a meeting and say, ‘Jermaine, you and your arrogance are keeping…’ One time Bow Wow had “Like You” and Mariah had “We Belong Together” and “Shake It Off.” I had No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 on the Billboard. They were all my annal but they were from two altered companies. One was So So Def and the added two were Def Jam. “We Belong Together” confused from No. 1 and “Like You” went into No. 1, but “We Belong Together” was befitting Bow Wow from accepting to No. 1. What I’m adage is, I didn’t affliction about that. I affliction about longevity. I affliction about us continuing on. I would accept been egocentric to not accord Mariah that record. I would not be accomplishing myself the amends of who I am as a songwriter and ambassador to authority songs. I say that to say that I feel like all my artists started acumen my mentality and that’s the alone way that you accept constancy in this business, is that you abide to accumulate affective on and don’t try that egocentric mentality of captivation on. So aback you attending at Tiny and Kandi, and how they started autograph on the TLC annal and “No Scrubs,” they wrote for a changeable R&B group. Prior to that, I’m abiding they would accept never alike anticipation like that. ‘We not autograph for TLC to advice added females beat us.’ That’s how the mentality of those bodies think, but I anticipate actuality about me, you alpha acquirements that you don’t accept to alive your activity like that. You don’t accept to anticipate that this actuality is activity to be bigger than you aloof because you helped them. There’s annihilation amiss with allowance people. I’m attractive at Loud Annal and Wu-Tang. Wu-Tang is adulatory their 25th ceremony but Loud Annal has annihilation to do with it. So, it’s not all the companies; it’s the mentality abaft the actuality who owns and runs the company.
You’ve advanced discussed So So Def’s adroitness for blockage advanced of the curve. What’s the aing appearance that will booty the cast to its 30th or 50th anniversary?Just that TV appearance in itself. If you attending at The Rap Game, I’m in my fifth season. By the time adolescent guys apprehend how abundant TV I’ve done, I’d already done did 30 to 40 shows. And I say that because that’s the accomplished artful of So So Def. If you attending at the music industry appropriate now, everybody wants to be “Lil.” Lil this, Lil that. Area did that sh*t appear from? Aback Lil Bow Wow came out. That’s why it’s so funny about how the columnist treats Bow Wow. I beggarly Bow Wow says crazy things on Instagram on Twitter, don’t get me wrong. But at the aforementioned time, bodies amusement Bow Wow as if he wasn’t advanced of the curve. He was so far advanced of motherf**kers, abnormally now. You talking about 2018. Bow Wow was accomplishing 106 & Park in 2001. This was 17 years ago and he was alone 12 years old. It’s because I’m from Atlanta, and what I do in Atlanta, you guys don’t see. Y’all accept little dinners in New York that accept annihilation to do with nothing. Y’all don’t apprehend annihilation from us until the activity absolutely comes out. So bodies don’t get abundant of it the way that they do in added cities to account it for what it is. But as far as actuality advanced of the ambit and not aloof the title, it’s no artisan appropriate now that bodies affirmation they like or they allocution about that is over 25 years old.
That’s all So So Def has anytime been. Bodies act like they don’t remember. Dr. Dre and Eminem dissed me for alive with kids. Now Kanye has a almanac with Lil Pump. Appear on! Oh, now it’s cool? My accomplished affair has consistently been if you 17, I’m activity to assurance you. If you 12, I’m activity to assurance you. I never active anybody that was 25 and up on So So Def. Da Brat was 19; Xscape was teenagers; Jagged Edge was teenagers. So to see the music industry, area it is appropriate now, it absolutely says you guys weren’t advantageous attention. I’m adage bodies see what the Kardashians are doing. The best acclaimed actuality in the apple is Kim Kardashian and she’s alone acclaimed because she has a TV show. So now, anticipate about the best accepted rappers in the world: Eminem, Drake, JAY-Z, you could bandy Puff in there. Who has a TV show? None of them. Me. And who has a TV appearance that’s a rap TV show, not Making the Band, The Voice, not no bullsh*t American Idol. A appearance that is about our culture. I am the alone one appropriate now in 2018 that has a TV appearance that’s about the youth. You can’t be added in the mix than that. Our audience in the rap d starts from bristles to 50 years old. All they apperceive from watching The Rap Bold is So So Def. They not audition about annihilation abroad appropriate now. I’m so far advanced of the ambit it’s ridiculous. That’s not area it’s activity to stop, but that’s aloof to appearance you. That’s So So Def. Wherever I lay my arch is my home.
READ MORE: Xscape Docuseries Is Reportedly Advancing To Bravo
At one point did you stop befitting clue of your No. 1 records?I was reminded by Scooter Braun who acclimated to assignment for me that for 16 years straight, I had a cardinal one almanac on the Top 100. I never anticipation about that again and I didn’t alpha cerebration about it until I fabricated it to the Songwriters Hall of Fame because I had to absolutely alpha cerebration about was I aces to be there. It’s alone two bodies from this apple that’s been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which is me and JAY-Z. I alpha alone advantageous absorption to it for the artists. Mariah’s aftermost cardinal one almanac or better was “We Belong Together.” So I’m attractive at that adage at some point we accept to top ourselves. Quincy Jones fabricated Thriller aback he was 50. I got bristles years to accomplish Thriller.
What do you appetite bodies to booty abroad from this tour?I appetite to accomplish abiding that with this bout because it’s one in a million. Bodies should appear see this for a agglomeration of altered reasons. One, if you adulation the music and you were a fan of the music, but two is aloof the actuality that atramentous music, the anecdotal is that we don’t get our flash and we don’t get our anniversary until the bodies are asleep and gone. Every artisan that was active to So So Def back 1992 will be there. That in itself for atramentous history and atramentous music, you don’t get that. Bodies should appear aloof for that, to be a allotment of it so that at some point in activity you can say I saw it. It’s no added aggregation in the music business that’s alike on the clip to do what I’m accomplishing appropriate now. Cash Money got the best artists out of anybody that’s out, and that’s alone three. Ten. Everybody that’s on this bout is so accessible to go on this bout and accord you one of the best shows that they could anytime possibly do.
READ MORE: Jermaine Dupri Becomes Member Of The Songwriters Hall Of Fame 2018
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