It was a great ride: After two decades of churning out bubble gum rap and crafting memorable hits for such artists as Bow Wow, Kris Kross, Xscape and Da Brat, music producer-turned rapper Jermaine Dupri has come full circle.
The pint sized former rap mogul now finds himself staring at an uncertain future as he starts over at square 1 with a downsized version of So So Def, the independent label that made him a household name.
The 90s were heady days for Jermaine Dupri who struck gold and then platinum with a mixture of pop-rap that Atlanta has become known for. But few people knew then that JD, as he likes to be known, did not craft those hits himself.
Like fellow Atlanta producer Dallas Austin, JD kept a team of virtually unknown producers on his payroll, and they did most of the work for him.
That’s not unusual in a music industry that is dominated by narcissists who routinely take credit for other people’s work.
Big name producers, such as Diddy and JD, are often up all night clubbing, and making it rain on botoxed strippers who they share champagne breakfasts with in random hotel rooms at 8 in the morning. All the while, the unknown producers, who make pennies on the dollar, craft the hits that earn the big name producers their Grammys.
This explains why “producer” Sean Combs put out so many hits early on in his career, but he couldn’t make a hit now if his life depended on it. The same goes for JD who took his So So Def label independent last year after being dumped from Island Records.
According to Creative Loafing, JD is bitter now that he has no major label to call home. No longer able to splurge on the exorbitant $8,000-a-month rental fees, he took down his infamous “Afro man” billboard alongside I-85 downtown. The one that greeted out-of-state visitors driving into Atlanta from Hartsfield airport.
Dupri, 36, also laid off (or fired) most of his staff and now operates So So Def out of his Southside studios in Buckhead with a skeleton crew of 3.
Gone is the big money label budget and all the perks that went along with being signed to a major label. If you don’t have a major label budget, then you can’t pay producers. This is when a producer’s weaknesses — and lack of raw talent – is exposed for the world to see.
Also gone is the main reason why Dupri’s name stayed on everyone lips for so long: Janet Jackson. Sadly JD is in denial, refusing to admit that their relationship is over.
According to Creative Loafing, JD seems to deny that the pair have broken up, despite numerous reports to the contrary last year. “That’s an assumption,” he says.
The failures began multiplying, culminating In 2008, when JD executive produced his then girlfriend Janet’s Discipline album. The album failed to go gold and Janet’s contract was not renewed at Island. Some say JD destroyed Janet jackson’s career by selfishly elevating his own career above hers. Even if that wasn’t true, others took notice of his failures.
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