One mention of the phrase “Welcome to Atlanta” and you inevitably know who we’re talking about. One bar of his hi-hats and you know it’s gotta be Grammy-winning and multi-platinum producer, rapper and engineer Jermaine Dupri.
From the Afro logo to the billboards that JD would buy out as you departed the airport, we’ve always known that Mr. Dupri had his fingerprints all over the rap scene in Atlanta.
Now his influence will be on display for all to see with his exhibit at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
JD helped Hip-Hop in Atlanta go to another level and he has helped shape the careers of three generations of artists.
Early on he had kids wearing their clothes backward and dressing like his artists Kris Kross; then he gave us the first platinum female rapper with Da Brat.
JD made us slang in our white-tees with Dem Franchize Boyz and we saw people get married to Jagged Edge. He found a young star in Lil Bow Wow and he made history with Mariah Carey.
There aren’t too many like him.
Now the Grammy Museum has honored the legacy of So So Def, featuring various pieces of memorabilia over the years.
Fans can see these time-stamped outfits, pics, handwritten song lyrics and behind the scenes footage that shed light on this iconic label’s status among the pantheons or rap labels.
Nwaka Onwusa, who has been a curator at the Grammy Museum for 10 years told AllHipHop about the project and how it came together via Michael Mauldin (Jermaine’s father and industry executive) a little over three years ago.
“I learned a great deal about So So Def during the process. I found it incredible to learn that Da Brat was the first solo female rapper to ever reach platinum status with the release of her debut record Funkdafied.” Onwusa said. “That accomplishment speaks volumes to her talent as an artist and Jermaine Dupri’s genius in leading So So Def recordings over the past 25 years.”
When asked about the exhibit, Jermaine Dupri explained how this accomplishment felt “bigger than winning a Grammy.”
“It’s probably one of the most amazing feelings next to being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Because you know making music; all I ever wanted to do was win a Grammy. You know what I mean? This feels bigger than winning a Grammy and winning a Grammy is pretty hard," Jermaine Dupri said.
"It seems pretty hard to do that and looking at it, someone might could say, 'Yea I could do that.' But looking at it, I’m like wow. It’s just one of those situations. And just the way they did it, it’s readable and watchable, you learn stuff from looking at it. It's pretty crazy," Jermaine Dupri said.
In addition to Jermaine Dupri, the exhibit highlights the works of Bryan Michael Cox, and Johnta Austin as songwriters over the years, so you really get a sense of how impactful this label was in both Hip-Hop and R&B.
When asked about his 1998 solo album titled Life in 1472, Dupri recalled the host of features and guest appearances including Jay-Z, DMX, Ma$e, Nas, Lil Kim, Snoop Dogg, Da Brat, Krayzie Bone and others wishing he had social media back then.
“It was just having fun. I wish I had social media back in the day because the recording process for that album was crazy. I did a song with DMX, Lil Kim and Ma$e, I was just having a convo with Big Jon [Platt], and I played him the Krayzie Bone and Brat song and he was like, ‘that's it,'” Jermaine Dupri explained. "It had everybody I created a cartoon comic book song which was Snoop Dogg and the whole West Coast crew and I was like living in this world and creating these songs. I’m not a full-time rapper, but I rap well enough to do songs with Jay-Z, DMX, Ma$e, Nas – Nas starts my album.”
Jermaine Dupri & So So Def's exhibit runs through January 2019.