Music Mogul Jermaine Dupri is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his So So Def Recordings with a reunion concert in Atlanta on February 23. During a recent visit to Los Angeles, he stopped by Yahoo! to talk to The Aftermath about his history in the music business and plans for the event.
Dupri, whose roster has included the likes of Kris Kross, Da Brat, Bow Wow, Xscape and Anthony Hamilton, offered a couple revelations during the interview.
Why didn’t Xscape Members Tiny and Kandi Attend the reunion press conference?
We spoke to Tiny the morning before. I think she was in New York. I think Kandi was having her differences about being a part of this. She’s got differences with different members of Xscape and that’s something we got to work out, or they got to work out. I don’t know too much about that.
What can people expect to happen at the concert?
You [are going to] see and hear all the music. On Thursday night I’m doing a dinner. A dinner that is basically me celebrating the artists. Not the artists doing anything. I just want them to sit down and have dinner and me basically tell them, “Thank you for helping me build this legacy.”
What has been the biggest obstacle over the years?
When I left Columbia that was probably like the worst part of So So Def period to me because some of the artists had to stay in one place, and I was going somewhere else. When that happened, to me it was like a disconnect for a lot of people as well as the company. I went on to do something at Arista. It brought a whole new life to So So Def. That’s when Bone Crusher came, Youngbloods, Anthony Hamilton. It was a whole new slew of So So Def artists, and it made the artists that was there before seem like they was the past. So it kinda disconnected my story or the vision that I had.
How did you balance working with the artists signed to So So Def Recordings verses the artists you produced for So So Def Productions?
It was smooth for me. But it was crazy. I had people who used to work for my office, and if I go do like Usher, I’ll have people talking, saying that I’m showing favoritism to So So Def Productions. People used to talk to me like So So Def Productions and So So Def Recordings was two different things. It’s me. But it was people that worked at So So Def Recordings and nobody worked at So So Def Productions was just me.
Dupri discusses producing his first group, Silk Tymes Leather, at 16, discovering Kris Kross and 19, and teaming up with Pharrell to produce their new artist Leah Labelle.
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Video and editing: Robert Gardner