Jermaine Dupri is big. Okay, not literally, but figuratively speaking, the So So Def CEO is large. And now hes is in charge. As the newly appointed President of Virgin Records Urban Music, JD has joined Jay-Z in infiltrating the executive ranks of the music industry.
But while Jigga has become the toast of the town as Def Jams new president,
Dupris promotion, in comparison, has been virtually ignored by the masses. Although the Atlanta native is just as successful as any of his peers, with a record company and his V3 vodka company, in addition to a slew of songwriting awards, the producer still feels underappreciated. Some could even him the Rodney Dangerfield of Rap, because he doesnt garner enough respect.
But like Dangerfield, JD is the understated legend. The mogul spoke with AllHipHop.com and discussed his haters, his accomplishments, and why his label will be So So Def-fer this year.
AllHipHop.com: Previously, when you moved So So Def from Columbia to Arista, you had to leave Bow Wow and Jagged Edge behind, what was the situation with your artists this time?
JD: Anthony Hamilton stayed at Jive, Bone Crusher stayed at Jive, and J-Kwon stayed at Jive.
AllHipHop.com: What about Da Brat?
JD: They aint really want Da Brat. They felt that girl rappers dont really sell records anymore.
AllHipHop.com: How do you handle losing artists you signed and worked with to make successful?
JD: Well, since I did it before, this time was a little bit easier. I had to swallow a lot when I did it with Bow Wow, cause I was so close to the artist. It just didnt feel like it was right that all that stuff that I put behind that artist had to stay with a company that didnt have nothing to do with him. So this time, I just started looking at my situation like a high school. Like, you go to So So Def High and I teach you everything that you need to get into the real world. And when you graduate you out on you own. I shouldnt look at it like that, cause none of those artists should be with those companies, they should all be with me. But the way I look at it and live with it is, as long as they continue to promote So So Def ,all it does is make my company strong.
AllHipHop.com So now youre responsible for restocking Virgins Rap regime?
JD: They have never been known for having Rap. Ive been sitting around waiting for a minute. All these artists, Ive just been collecting. SunN.Y. was just off the rip, I saw him performing on 106 & Park. I was sitting in my office one day, and I was just like, You know what? This kid right here is pretty good. And I always like to prove things to people, too. No artist from 106 & Park has ever did units; as good as Jin was, as good as Posta Boy was. I always wanted to sign one of them artists from that show. So I picked him up. But I had T.Waters, Daz [Dillinger] has been waiting in the wings, [The Kid] Slim has been waiting in the wings. All the arts I got have been waiting in the wings to come out. So, So So Def has already been stacked up heavy waiting on a deal.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like you get your just due for your contributions to Hip-Hop compared to your peers?
JD: I think the fact that I didnt get a lot of recognition in my earlier days and the fact that Im still getting a light bit of recognition now, it just continues to keep me hungry, keeps me driving, and looking for something. I believe at the end of the day, Im gonna be the last man standing when it comes to all this music, period. I think each one of these others guys are eliminating themselves slowly but surely. Cause they finding other things that they love to do besides music. Where Im in love with making records. I feel like eventually everyone will come in and know that Im that dude. Like a year or two ago, people were talking bad about Mariah Carey like she fell off, and for her to be back at number one and the first two singles that are out are my records, I dont know if Im suppose to say it, but I feel like Im the person responsible for putting Mariah back in the mix. But I dont know if someone else will say that. And Im not gonna promote it, cause Im not like that, I just do what I do. But some people feel like I should be out there screaming that, so people will give me a lot more respect.
AllHipHop.com: Hows your role with Virgin different than Arista?
JD: Its me and its only me. At Arista, it was made to be believed that it was more than it was. At Arista I was the second person in command to L.A. [Reid], but L.A. is a very attentive President. That position wasnt really nothing that was extra, extra special. It was nice working with him and being under his tutelage, because hes definitely a music man and pushed me to go harder, and being around him and seeing him, set me up to be where I am now. But at Virgin, its completely my show. Its my lane and I tell you what cars get in it and what cars get out. Nobody comes out in Urban Music unless I say so.
AllHipHop.com: Is this gonna be So So Defs year? Or are you loading up for next year?
JD: This year. Like, Im coming out with at least six artist right now. The first album thats coming out is on July 19th, Young, Fly, and Flashy: Jermaine Dupri Presents And its a compilation of all the new artists. T.Waters is coming off that with his first single, Though It All. And then I got another artist, named Young Capone, hes coming off that album. Hes gonna be the next Down South artist that everyone is going to be f**king with. Thats two records. And the first single is my record. Thats for the people who have been asking when I was gonna make a new record. And then the SunN.Y. single, Introduction, which is the first single from his album, Overnight Celebrity. Right after that album, hopefully, everybody will be getting into T.Waters album. So thats three albums. And right after that, I got an R&B artist, John Taye. Hes an R&B artists thats more sexy and more grown. His album is called Ocean Drive. So thats four albums right here. And on top of that I signed a new artist from Chicago named Mikkey, who used to be down with Ca$h Money. His fist single is produced by Kanye [West] and thats getting ready to come out. And then I signed a new kid from Baltimore named Boss Man that we getting ready to start putting out. So thats six artists from So So Def and Virgin, thats definitely coming out this year.
AllHipHop.com: Since Virgin hasnt had many urban acts in the past, what will you be doing to change the perception of the company?
JD: Whats funny is, what Ive done so far is make Virgin hip. I know that because yesterday I got a phone call from DJ Clue asking me did I have room for new music. Now, if DJ Clue called me and wanted to sign artists and he never wanted to sign artists at Virgin, it must mean its cool ass place. And for all the heads at Virgin and EMI, thats the s**t they need to pay attention to.