Greatest Southern Artists of all Time
Words Rohit Loomba
JERMAINE DUPRI 5 ESSENTIAL JERMAINE DUPRI TRACKS Jermaine Dupri f/ Jay-Z “Money Ain’t a Thang” Life in 1472 1998 JD teaches everyone about the life of a baller with some help from Jay-Z. Jermaine Dupri f/ Mariah Carey “Sweetheart” Life in 1472 1998 JD bangs out one for the women with the beautiful Mariah Carey. Jealous, Janet? Jermaine Dupri f/ Mase & Lil Kim “Get Dealt With” Life in 1472 1998 Mase and JD explain how the women love their cash, while Lil Kim retorts from the women’s perspective: “Play y’all niggas like dummies / Click-click, Show me the money!” Jermaine Dupri “Welcome to Atlanta” Instructions 2001 In addition to encouraging dozens of remixes all across the country, “Welcome to Atlanta” introduced a new phrase to the hip-hop dictionary: MBP (Most Ballinist Player). Jermaine Dupri f/ Nate Dogg “Ballin’ Out of Control” Instructions 2001 Continuing to brag about his baller lifestyle, JD borrows from the fairy tales: “Mirror mirror on the wall / Who’s the biggest baller of all?”
o one articulates it better than Jermaine Dupri himself on his hit single “Money Ain’t a Thang”: “I make the big moves, do the big things / Take small groups, turn them into big names.” This is exactly what JD has done throughout his career, turning himself and others into platinum stars.
reach number one on Billboard’s Pop, R&B, and Rap charts with multiple singles. Applying the Xscape formula to a male quartet, JD helped produce and release Jagged Edge’s debut album JE Heartbreak in 2000, which was certified gold with hit singles “Promise” and “Let’s Get Married.”
JD’s father, Atlanta manager Michael Mauldin, first exposed him to the world of music. As a child, JD attended studio sessions for his father’s funk band Brick and began imitating his father. He could play the drum lines to the entire Brick catalog by age five. That same year, JD landed a slot as a dancer for the Fresh Fest Concert, featuring Run-DMC, Whodini, Grandmaster Flash, and the Fat Boys.
With his name already established as a producer, JD released his own album in 1998, Life in 1472. The album boasted appearances by artists such as Nas, Jay-Z, DMX, Slick Rick, Mariah Carey, Warren G, 8Ball, Lil Kim, and some of JD’s labelmates. The motivation for releasing the album was simply for JD to have a platform to fully display his creativity and artistic expression. “I didn’t make this album to prove that I can rhyme with a Nas, a Slick Rick, or a Jay-Z,” he admitted. Thanks in part to hits like “Money Ain’t a Thang” and “The Party Continues,” Life in 1472 went platinum and only added to his credibility as a talented producer and artist.
By the time JD began experimenting with production, he didn’t have any equipment except a drum machine. “I would keep all the bass lines and samples in my head,” he recalls. “When I got to the studio, I’d just tell somebody to play it for me.” Five years later, at age fourteen, JD’s production career truly began when he signed a contract with Silk Thymes Leather. In 1989 he formed So So Def Productions. Two years later, he stumbled into two backwards-jean-wearing rappers named Kris Kross at a local mall. JD signed the group and put together their album, Totally Krossed Out, which soon attained quadruple platinum success. After Kris Kross, JD began producing for rap trio TLC, who achieved even greater success. TLC’s first two albums totaled over fifteen million copies sold. In 1993 and 1994, JD went on to unveil female R&B quartet Xscape and female rapper Da Brat. They both went on to achieve platinum success in a relatively short period of time, establishing Dupri as one of the most respected and sought-after R&B producers of his time. Completely immersed in the R&B world, JD began working with greats such as Mariah Carey when he became involved in producing My Way, the sophomore release from a young singer. In 1996, Dupri became the first producer to
Life in 1472 was a party album, featuring JD rapping about his life of bling over funk-laded, head-bob-inducing beats. JD didn’t bother getting personal on the album, sticking to tales of cars, homes, and jewelry. Not only did JD come strong on the production end, but he brought the same strength as a rapper. Joining the ranks of the dual rapper/producer talents like Dr. Dre, P. Diddy and RZA, JD proved that he could go toe-to-toe with some of the best rappers in the game. JD released his follow-up album, Instructions, in 2001. His hit single, “Welcome to Atlanta,” spawned dozens of response records from cities all over the nation. Three years later, he released his third solo album, Green Light. Continuing to work with hip-hop’s most influential artists, JD has maintained his position as a legendary producer in the new millennium and has also established himself as an outstanding businessman. Formerly housed at Arista and Jive, Dupri’s imprint So So Def found a new home at Virgin Records. In 2005, Dupri was named President of Virgin’s urban music division. Currently, he’s working on projects with So So Def artists like T Waters and Daz Dillinger, as
well as producing for artists like Mariah Carey and Bow Wow. Aside from the music industry, Dupri became co-owner of the Chicago-based 3 Vodka in 2004. He became interested in the product because of its unique soy distilled taste. “3 Vodka is representative of what I look for in a brand. From the inside out, it’s a flawless product,” he says. JD’s acquisition of 3 Vodka was the beginning of his attempts to broaden his business interests beyond the music realm, although he implements the same approach to his beverage as he does to his music: “My passion for the brand is similar to my approach with music: superiority, uniqueness and perfection must all be achieved. That’s how I describe 3 Vodka.” JD plans to open a 24-hour cafe, Def Cafe, in Atlanta’s Buckhead district, and is also working on a pilot for a television show similar to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Other projects are currently underway to build the So So Def brand, including toy replicas of Da Brat, Bonecrusher, JD himself, and the Afroman logo. It is the culmination of all these accomplishments and efforts, both musical and non-musical, which set JD apart as one of the South’s most influential artists. With a catalog boasting several platinum singles and albums, JD has established himself as a popular producer and artist who has consistently stayed on the cutting edge of hip-hop. Having worked with some of hip-hop’s most established artists including Nas, Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, and the Neptunes, JD is popular with fans and also within the industry. Through his business ventures, JD has firmly secured his place as a true entrepreneur with clever marketing schemes. Whether promoting his So So Def label or wandering into the liquor business, JD displays a true knack for managing and maintaining proper investments. He’s gone above and beyond the label of an artist, wearing multiple hats - DJ, producer, MC, and executive - allowing him to take his music to higher levels than many artists. With a resume listing greats like Aretha Franklin, Mase, Camron, and Aaliyah, there’s no doubt that JD is the real deal. OZONE APR 2005
Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005