Jermaine Dupri Blasts Def Jam, Says ‘There’s Definitely Hard Feelings’
Super-producer Jermaine Dupri may have left his post at Island Def Jam over six months ago, but he still has some negative feelings towards the label. According to Dupri, who held a brief post as president of Island Records Urban Music Department, his time at the label hit several creative roadblocks, among them is what he saw as a lack of support behind his new artist, singer Dondria.
The man behind Mariah Carey's emancipation (not to mention hits for Usher, Bow Wow and Da Brat) chatted with The BoomBox about why he left the label and what his plans are for expanding the So So Def brand.
"My reason for leaving Def Jam is because they [weren't] prepared for a person like myself," he told The BoomBox. "They [were] basically out for themselves. I never was on a team like that. I was always on a team that was supportive of what I wanted to do and this time it was more like 'we need you to do this.' It wasn't allowing me to set up So So Def the way that the world knows me to set up So So Def.
"People know me to create new artists [and to] continuously come with new people. Once I signed Dondria I noticed that the reaction [in] the building wasn't like what I thought it was [going to be] over a new artist. I don't expect you to jump through hoops over my new artist but I expect you to understand how I broke Jagged Edge, understand how I broke everybody else, and to help me to do that. Once I realized I was basically on my own in that building, I said 'it's time for me to get out of here.' I saw the decline of Def Jam and I was just like 'I don't want to be apart of a sinking ship.'"
The 36-year-old Grammy winner's experience at the label not only assisted in his decision to leave his post but tainted his view of the company. "[There's] definitely hard feelings because I'm not cool with people stunting my growth. I'm a person that keeps growing. Everybody knows the history of Jermaine Dupri. Everybody knows what I've done from day one from one group to the next, it was all new artists and you have to continue doing that. If you get in the way of that you stunt that growth. They [have] bigger problems to deal with, I mean I'm not running around like 'f--- Def Jam!' I'm just saying I would not really deal with them ever again."
Since cutting ties with the label Dupri has been prepping an independent distribution deal to get back to the essence of where he feels the music industry is headed. "That's where the public seem to be focused. It feels like it's a resurgence of independent labels," he said. "It just feels like the right thing for me especially, because I've been a person that directs every button that happens with my artists and it got a little too cloudy with me being apart of a system, their goals are different. They don't really care about the new artists, they don't care about establishing artist."
Dupri is currently working Dondria's forthcoming debut, which will hit stores next year and his new group, Ocean's 7. Billed as "the new rat pack" the group is comprised of Dupri, Trey Songz, Nelly, Johnta Austin, Brian Michael Cox, Usher, and Tyrone Davis (JD's assistant). Fans can download the 'Ocean's 7' mixtape' for free at www.global14.com.