Jermaine “JD” Dupri knows about diversity. As a producer and songwriter, the Atlanta-based music mogul had a hand in overseeing the best-selling albums of both 2004 and 2005, Usher’s blockbuster Confessions and Mariah Carey’s comeback classic The Emancipation of Mimi, respectively. Confessions sold more than 9 million copies and earned the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B album. The Emancipation of Mimi has sold more than 5 million copies on the strength of songs Dupri produced and co-penned, “We Belong Together,” “Don’t Forget About Us” and “Shake It Off.” Dupri and Carey were also nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best R&B Song at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards. Mimi took home three Grammys and Dupri earned his first Grammy award for Best R&B Song of 2006.
In fact, Dupri became one of only a few producers in music history to garner four positions in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart at one time (a feat accomplished by only two other producers) and the top three spots on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts with “We Belong Together” and “Shake It Off” by Carey and “Like You” (Bow Wow & Ciara) and “Let Me Hold You” (Bow Wow featuring Omarion), songs he produced and co-penned. With “We Belong Together” and “Shake It Off,” he and Carey became the first artists since The Beatles to hold the top two spots at the same time, while “We Belong Together” gave Dupri his 19th No. 1 R&B hit. These accolades keep Dupri on the platform as ASCAP’s consistent Songwriter of the Year, an honor he has won six times.
As CEO of So So Def Recordings, Dupri has helmed the release of dozens of platinum and gold albums. He’s also crafted platinum albums for himself.
In 1992, when he was just 19, an age when most people are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, Dupri founded So So Def. He struck multi-platinum with Kriss Kross and soon established himself as a premier R&B, rap and pop hitmaker. Artists and labels alike knew they could call on him when they needed a hit record or album and Dupri set his sights on establishing So So Def as a universally recognized brand. Since then, he has launched the careers of Da Brat, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge, Anthony Hamilton, Xscape, J-Kwon and many more through the label and his direction.
This tremendous track record set the stage for Dupri’s most substantial business accomplishment. In February, 2007, Dupri, was appointed president of Island Records Urban Music, a new division of the Island Def Jam Music Group. As part of the arrangement, Dupri will oversee Island’s entire urban music operation. In addition, he will produce artists on the IDJ roster, as well as provide his production services to the entire Universal Music Group family of labels.
In May 2005, Dupri opened his first restaurant, Café Dupri. The Atlanta eatery features a lively atmosphere and a menu that caters to diners hoping to enjoy a quality meal that is also healthy. Turkey burgers and turkey sausage will be featured, as are a number of low carb options. “All of the bad food that you eat over the years will shorten your life,” Dupri says. “Over the last couple of years I started eating a lot healthier than I had been. I’m not a health junkie, but I think that you’ve got to pay attention to your health.”
With all of the attention Dupri enjoys, penning his autobiography is a logical step. In early 2006, he signed a deal with Atria Books for Young, Rich and Dangerous: My Life In Music, which includes never-before revealed information on his relationships with Usher and girlfriend Janet Jackson. The tome will also serve as a road map for people trying to enter the music industry and is set for release in October 2007.
Dupri also knows that giving back to the community is one of the most important things a celebrity can do. That’s why he teamed with Cartier to create a specially designed, limited series of eyewear. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the $1,500 glasses will go to The Atlanta Community Food Bank and City of Refuge, both local liaisons for the Hurricane Relief Fund.
Now with tens of millions of albums sold to his credit, scores of awards and a list of music industry accomplishments that are as distinguished as they are remarkable, Dupri is anxious to continue making history. He hopes to make So So Def a billion dollar company, work side-by-side with his friend and mentor, Antonio “LA” Reid to continue the successful reign of Island Def Jam and expand Café Dupri into a franchise that has restaurants in New York, Japan and elsewhere.
Dupri’s body of work represents a multi-layered approach that illustrates his visionary business acumen. With almost 15 extraordinary years in business experience to his credit, Dupri is solidifying his legacy as his hitmaking streak continues.
“In the next ten years,” Dupri says, “I’m going to be one of the dudes that people try to pattern themselves after and follow.”
In all reality, those in the know already are.