In another classic BET “106 & Park” moment, Hip-Hop mogul Jermaine Dupri announced that he has signed freestyle champion SunNY, who was officially named to “Freestyle Friday” Hall of Fame Friday (Feb. 4) after a seven-week winning streak.
Dupri surprised the “106 & Park” audience by appearing on stage, presenting SunNY with a chain and announcing his signing to So So Def Records. “He’s got style and that’s what separates him from the regular rappers,” Dupri told AllHipHop.com. “He’s ready for what you throw at him, so I figured if you throw something at him like a record deal, he should be ready for that too.”
According to Dupri, it was a spontaneous freestyle session at a radio station that compelled him to sign SunNY. The Rochester native-turned-Atlanta resident had battled and defeated other unsigned rappers for seven weeks straight until his final competition Friday. Afterwards, an emotional SunNY expressed his appreciation for his mom and the support of fans.
“He adapted to the situation at hand. He never knew what beat ["106 & Park" DJ] Enuff was gonna come with,” said Dupri of SunNY’s performances. “You go off the judges’ faces; you go off [hosts] Free, AJ’s expressions and just the crowd [reaction]. Everybody’s facial expression was like ‘Wow.'”
Dupri himself recently made a big move, now president of Virgin Records’ Urban Music division. Under terms of the new deal, Jermaine brought over his So So Def label to Virgin. SunNY is the first artist Dupri has signed since his relocation.
Unlike prior freestyle Hall of Famers Jin and Poster Boy, who also came up through the ranks of “Freestyle Friday,” SunNY has the luxury of Dupri’s immediate attention, JD explained. Dupri looks to take full advantage of SunNY’s popularity on “106 & Park,” since the show has essentially launched SunNY’s career.
“With Jin, they waited too long. With [SunNY], you gonna hear a record with him in three months. You can’t wait a year,” said Dupri, referring to the long time-span between Jin’s signing to Virgin/Ruff Ryders and his album release. “BET’s gonna have another [freestyle] champion soon. You gotta go.” Jin announced his signing to Ruff Ryders in surprise fashion, too, pulling out a Ruff Ryder chain at his last performance.
Dupri expects SunNY’s debut album, tentatively titled Overnight Celebrity, to drop within four to five months. “If he gets a hit record, [success] should be instant for him,” said Dupri.
106 & Park’s weekly “Freestyle Friday” contest pits two unknown Mcs against each other. DJs and judges from the music industry select the winner, with the reigning champ returning the following week to compete against another rapper.
In addition to SunNY, “Freestyle Friday” has birthed such rappers as Jin and Poster Boy, both of whom landed major label deals as a result.
of their success on the show.