Curren$y’s 2021 song “Jermaine Dupri” sparked a special relationship with its namesake.
Jermaine Dupri made an undeniable impact in the music industry, but he was still surprised to see someone name a track after him. He eventually linked up with Curren$y, which led to a collaboration between the two.
Both men quickly realized how similar they are. JD told AllHipHop they are basically “the same guy” except for smoking weed.
Curren$y originally hoped to get one beat from Jermaine Dupri when they connected in the studio. Instead, Spitta found himself creating multiple projects with JD.
Fans heard the first batch of music when Jermaine Dupri and Curren$y dropped For Motivational Use Only Vol. 1 on April 4. AllHipHop caught up with the duo to discuss the collaboration, the current music scenes in Atlanta and New Orleans, the legacy of So So Def Recordings and much more.
AllHipHop: JD, what was your reaction when you first heard Curren$y’s “Jermaine Dupri” song?
Jermaine Dupri: I had a bunch of different emotions. I was shocked. I also was like, “Why?” I was excited about it. Because out of all of things that a person could do, they made a song and titled the song after me. That’s pretty crazy. So, it’s a bunch of different emotions.
AllHipHop: Curren$y, when was the first time JD reached out to you about it and how does that evolve into y’all collaborating?
Curren$y: Man, I think a day or two after I dropped [it], the second day or maybe the day I dropped the video, I feel like I hadn’t shot that video knowing that this was going to happen. I feel like I shot the video before he reached out. So, once it dropped and he was like, “Yo, let’s line up and do a record,” I was just grateful to be pulling up to do a record because I don’t mean a record, like the whole project. I really was just going to hang out with him and try to get a beat, one beat, and then possibly build my career-defining album with one Jermaine Dupri beat. But instead, we hung out and we’ve created volumes of career-defining music.
AllHipHop: What was that like for you two where – like you said Curren$y – you were expecting just one beat, but y’all obviously clicked and it turned into a whole collaboration of multiple projects?
Curren$y: We were f###### double dragons, man. We just was like, “Oh, you like this? You watch these movies? You do this? Great.” So, I wasn’t in a rush to go back home and break out my cars and action figures because this dude had all of that same s### at his studio. There’s five-foot stormtroopers and s### in the sound booth with you. So, I wasn’t in a rush to leave. He created a space that you wouldn’t want to leave and then it doesn’t even feel like work.
AllHipHop: What about you, JD? What was your perspective on working with Spitta?
Jermaine Dupri: Yeah, pretty much the same. We’re kind of like the same guy, but the only difference is he smoke weed. If I smoked, we’d be the same person, damn near probably. And we started talking about that type of stuff. And he’s taking pictures of things that’s in the studio so he could take them back to his son, Stormtroopers and Star Wars [stuff]. We just started having conversations about a bunch of things that we have in common and that just leads to the right energy in the studio.
AllHipHop: When y’all were making these projects, For Motivational Use Only, did y’all imagine this as an album first or did you always picture it as multiple volumes of EPs?
Jermaine Dupri: We never talked about it.
Curren$y: Yeah, we didn’t know what we were doing. We were just making songs. We were hanging out, but in the process of hanging out, like he said, if we both smoked weed, then that’s probably what we would’ve did. But the fact that he didn’t smoke weed is like, “Well, what else we going to do, my n####? We might as well make songs. We got everything else in common. What can we do?” And we just keep doing music. Otherwise, we’re just sitting around watching movies and we both would probably rather watch movies with girls. So, we had to put work into it and make it make sense.
AllHipHop: JD, you’ve worked with so many artists over the years. How did Curren$y differ from other artists and what were your expectations going into working with him?
Jermaine Dupri: It’s actually not as much work for me because he writing all of his songs, he writing all what he wants to write about and this, that and the third. I get to sit back and watch him take what I present to him and what that makes him do, and then we collectively come together and finish it off. So, it’s almost a simpler thing, but it’s a fun simple. It’s a fun sit-back-and-watch type of situation. I still got to make my beats and do what I got to do, but once that’s done, we have this pass-off situation and we don’t talk about what type of song we’re going to make or nothing…
AllHipHop: Spitta, was that something different for you in terms of your process when you’re working with other producers? Was there something that JD brought that you hadn’t seen before or expected?
Curren$y: Just his presence. He is who he is, so you know what time it is. It’s like when m############ get drafted and then your first game, your teammate is Michael Jordan. And then he passes you the ball and you’re wide open. It’s like, “OK, if I miss, he’s never going to pass me the ball again, possibly tell Phil Jackson to get rid of me.” So, you just make sure you nail it.
AllHipHop: JD, this year you’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of So So Def. What does that mean to you? And when you look back, what do you feel is the legacy of So So Def?
Jermaine Dupri: It means everything because when you start a record company at the age that I started, you don’t actually believe that it’s going to even be around a year. You know what I mean? So to be around for 30 years, it sounds really pretty impossible to me. That’s one part. Then to be able to actually look at the industry today, 30 years later, and see all of my artists and see what each one of the artists did, it means a lot to me. Because none of my artists was signed to somewhere else before. Everybody that I put out was brand new from scratch. The idea that I basically was like, “I think you could be an artist. I think you should be an artist,” or somebody that came to me was an artist and I put them out.
So to see that they still living in this space, even with all of the noise that Xscape is making, it’s still my group. Regardless of whatever’s going on the internet and how much they got the internet going crazy, the world only knows about Xscape from me. So, just to see that in the modern world, these people that I brought to life is pretty exciting.
AllHipHop: Curren$y, I’m wondering about your viewpoint on So So Def. Is there something that you’ve learned watching from afar and from getting to work with JD when it comes to Jet Life?
Curren$y: Yeah, Jet Life has had a billboard. We put a billboard downtown in New Orleans in a prominent area that people always had to see when they came into the city. And that’s a page that I stole directly from the So So Def handbook of making sure m############ know that you’re a force in the city. And even if they don’t know about you, the fact that they knew about the city enough to travel to it, they need to find out what the f### you are because you’re welcoming them to the city. So, who are you? And I learned that from them flat out. That s### was as big as the Olympic torch that you saw from the freeway too. They were the same thing to me.
AllHipHop: Speaking of having that presence in New Orleans, lately you’re a staple at Pelicans games. A few years ago, you bought Bud’s Broiler’s old location. What does it mean to you to have that impact and be so defined with New Orleans now?
Curren$y: It’s the world to me because things that meant a lot to me, that shaped me. I went to that burger spot my whole life. When I started low-riding, that was one of the best spots to park the car and take pictures of. The Jet Life store is in the spot where we used to park. It was an old school building, an old university administration building. They weren’t using it, but the lighting around that building was so good and it was right on Canal Street. We always parked the low-riders right in front of that. So, I end up getting the spot. That’s what my whole life is about. Kind of preserving the things that I think are dope because I’m sure other people would think so too. So, with my city, that’s for sure what I’ve been about. The stuff that matters to me, I’m trying to hold onto it for the next one who’s coming up that it could impact them in a way.
AllHipHop: JD, what has it been like for you to be so intrinsically part of what the world sees as Atlanta? And what’s your view of Atlanta’s current scene today?
Jermaine Dupri: I didn’t do the Atlanta thing by a design. I feel like it just happened to be time, basically. I was fortunate to be the first of a lot of things in the city and fortunate to be at the beginning of the start of a lot of things that happened in the city but that’s just based on time. It wasn’t something that I designed. But the way the city is now, I love the growth of the city. But I feel like musically, we have declined from what it was in my era of coming up. The pool is not that big anymore. The artistry is not there as much as it used to be. And it needs to get back to that. Kids need to get back to being creative and not being scared to do what the music makes them want to do.
AllHipHop: Is there anybody you see now that you feel like is getting creative and is taking that challenge? Or you’re waiting to be impressed?
Jermaine Dupri: Yeah, I’m waiting. I’m waiting to see if what I’m saying happens because normally, what I’m saying usually happens. Whether it’s from me or somebody else that’s just in the universe. And the universe is probably telling me to say this because there’s somebody that’s getting ready to come out that’s in that space. I hope that’s what happens.
AllHipHop: Now, I’m wondering, Curren$y, if you’re seeing anything like that in New Orleans. Do you see a new star in the making? Is there someone maybe on Jet Life right now? I know you got a few artists that have been coming in, but what are you thinking about the future of New Orleans?
Curren$y: On the whole, I’m excited for my label. Actually, because you speak to people on the label, and Fendi [P] been working for a long time, but I feel like his hard work is probably just about the cash-in. People have grown accustomed to the style of music that he make because the artists that are on Jet Life, they don’t rap like me. We don’t make the same styles of music. So, the group of listeners that they are grandfathered into is, they have to win them over. They got to show them what they do, but my listeners are receptive. So, I think that they’re all going to see the fruits of they labor, as far as that go.
But in the city on the whole outside of us, artists like Rob49 and Neno Calvin and them, they’re people who I follow their moves and I like what they’re doing. And we’ve always been hands-on and down to bust moves with them through they rise anyway. So, it’s kind of like we’re all in the same thing.
AllHipHop: In terms of your career, I think one of the most impressive things about your longevity is just your ability to adapt. From the No Limit days to Cash Money to your independent success, what do you credit that ability to adapt to?
Curren$y: Just how much I love my family and I want to be able to make s### happen for them. A lady would pick a car up off her baby, so I’m going to figure out how to make this s### work for my mom and dad and s###. That’s all. You got to adapt. You hear it in raps all the time. I hear it. I feel like in Young Jeezy’s voice, but I don’t know who said it: hustlers adapt. I’ve heard that. You know what I’m saying? It’s just you picturing it a different way. It’s not about the price of the brakes going up, it’s just that it went from CDs to clicks and s### like that. The drug has changed and you need to know how to sling that s### every time.
AllHipHop: You saw the change from CDs to streaming. You were right at the height of the blog era. Did you feel like you played a big role in that need to constantly feed the audience?
Curren$y: I think I inspired a gang of millionaires, at this point. There’s a lot of artists who – and they give it up to me. They tell me. And they say it in interviews sometimes and s### too. I pretty much showed them you could just be yourself and, if you put the work in, people will gravitate to it. And people will be your best street team because when you find something, you want to tell your homies and s###. Like, “Yo, check this out,” because it’s dope and that’s how s### grew. That’s how a lot of us have grown after me. If you became a millionaire because you had records on SoundCloud, I essentially designed how that goes. Without even trying, that’s what’s up.
AllHipHop: JD, these projects with Curren$y – is there something to prove? Is it something to just remind people of your greatness? Do you view them in that way at all?
Jermaine Dupri: It is a reminder to let people know that I started out – my first record was a rap record. My first group that I put out was a rap group. So, I do think that a lot of times people lose sight that the first time you heard Jermaine Dupri was through a rap group called Kris Kross. Jermaine Dupri’s first album, first single was with him and Jay-Z. I don’t think people actually be paying attention to how rap I am.
So, that is a reminder to remind you of how Hip-Hop I am because in the press, everybody starts talking about Mariah Carey, which you should. And you start talking about Usher, which you should, and all of these people. And then they lose sight of how much Hip-Hop I actually have in me and how Hip-Hop I am. So, I think all of this, the performance, we got our first show on the 7th. And I feel like the way we’re talking about doing the show is all a reminder to everyone from my side that this is what I actually do. The other stuff that y’all hear from me is the stuff that I’ve learned from this that I actually do.
AllHipHop: I saw you were talking about working on a Freaknik documentary. I’m wondering, what’s the process of that, how far along is that and when could people expect to maybe see that?
Jermaine Dupri: Yeah, it’s almost done. It’s coming out on Hulu. We got a little bit more filming to do, but it’s pretty close. It’s trying to make sure we can make those that didn’t attend Freaknik feel the energy through the screen.
AllHipHop: I’m excited to see that. I really appreciate y’all taking the time to speak with me. Anything you want to make sure people know about For Motivational Use Only?
Jermaine Dupri: Yeah. Like I said, I want to say this, we are having our first show because people keep asking if there’s going to be a tour … The first show is on April 7 in Atlanta. Fly down, come see what’s happening. By the way, because I say the show that’s going to be in Atlanta will probably be, I won’t say the most special. But since we have our special guests on the album, they’ll more likely come to that show than an L.A. show or one of these other shows. So, come check this out.