Jermaine Dupri talks about the origins of Atlanta hip-hop with Jalen Rose
Jermaine Dupri’s father was a record executive, so he was raised around hip-hop, going to gigs when he was in single digits. But she started her own career as a dancer aged 12 with Whodini, the group behind “Freaks Come Out at Night”.
“[I was] I just thought I’d be opening for a show that’s coming to Atlanta,” the hit-songwriter told me on this week’s “Renaissance Man” event. “I never know what I’m getting into. Eventually I got into hip-hop… I had the chance to live in that world in 1984, 1985 and 1986 and toured. Run-DMC, Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow and all those people. I’m only 12 years old. So that’s pretty amazing.
Once inside the walls, he absorbs everything, comparing himself to the robot from the goofy 1986 movie “Short Circuit” who can read a bunch of books in a matter of seconds.
“In my opinion I look like a Johnny 5 robot, if anyone knows what that is. He just read books and absorbed all that knowledge. That’s what I looked like… I was running around, going everywhere I could for this information. And, you know, I learned to DJ [late Run-DMC DJ] Jam Master Jay… I was actually there the first night Def Jam did LL Cool J.
With hip-hop celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, there’s no denying Atlanta’s role in both art form and culture. Jermaine noted that when he was growing up the town was not the music center it is today. Of course, we have the likes of L.A. Reid and Babyface to thank. But Jermaine was there first, shaping that ATL sound as a teen producer.
He discovered early ’90s tween rap sensation Kris Kross, writing and producing their mega hits “Jump” and “Warm It Up.” This made it impossible for her to ignore him and inspired her to start her own label.
“The first band I signed was Xscape. People looked at me like I was crazy because I had an R&B band I wanted to release first, not a rap band, from what they saw with Kris Kross. And I knew then that I wanted to make sure people knew I was more flexible.
Mission accomplished. He went on to work with Usher, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Jay-Z, Monica and Nas, to name a few. In 2002 he released “Welcome to Atlanta” and featured Ludacris. It was not only another trophy in his rap career, but also an exclamation point about Atlanta’s status as a Southern hip-hop nexus.
However, Jermaine is an ambassador for all things Atlanta, not just music. He promotes the city’s exports, most notably Pinky Cole, the colorful CEO of the popular restaurant chain Slutty Vegan.
“I have been vegan for 19 years and I came out to tell him how inspired I am to see him grow his business from a food truck to a $100 million business today. And he said, ‘Jermaine, I want to tell you something. One night you called me at the studio. We have closed and everyone is tired. And you call me, “Pinky, I want you to come to the studio. Snoop is there. ”” He gathered his workers and brought food to the studio.
“Snoop tasted it and he got a video of Snoop eating the Slutty Vegan burger. And he said after that video Snoop made, his business skyrocketed,” Jermaine told me, adding that he also entered the plant-based food space, founding JD’s Vegan ice cream company. Naturally, her favorite flavor is “Welcome to Atlanta, Peach Cobbler.”
And true to his hometown theme, he said we can expect a special “Verzuz” episode: He plans to take on Diddy, the Bad Boy Entertainment honcho.
“People want it. You see, New York wants to fight Atlanta. Atlanta, they want to play New York. He [like the] rivalry with the Hawks and Knicks.
And to enter the musical battle with such an impressive catalog of songs he’s written, I have to ask his Top 5. He didn’t hesitate to answer. His list: “Money Ain’t a Thang” with Jay-Z, “You Make Me Wanna” by Usher, his work “Welcome to Atlanta” and two Mariah Carey hits: “Always Be My Baby” and “We Belong Together”. ”
“I would say ‘We Belong Together’ because people say it’s the biggest comeback in music history, for Mariah to come back like she did. I don’t really think so. But I’m digressing from what people are saying, and I feel… the song itself is the song of the decade. I don’t think I’ll ever have a song of the decade again. »
But when it comes to Jermaine, you can never say never.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the iconoclast Fab Five of the University of Michigan, which rocked the collegiate world in the early 90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before becoming a media personality. Rose is an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He produced ‘The Fab Five’ for ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ series, is the bestselling author of ‘Got To Give the People What They Want’, a fashion designer and co-founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. , a public charter school in his hometown.