Jermaine Dupri on So So Def’s 30th Anniversary and Atlanta’s impact on hip hop

In the world of Hip Hop, there are icons, and then there’s Jermaine Dupri. Founder of the legendary So So Def record label, this award-winning hitmaker has been a driving force in the genre for three decades. 

A true visionary, his impact on the genre is undeniable, and he is sure to continue to be a major force in hip hop for many years to come.

In a candid interview with Ebony magazine, Jermaine Dupri discusses So So Def’s 30th anniversary, his role as a beacon of longevity, the secret sauce to crafting timeless hits, and his thoughts on Atlanta’s influence on Hip Hop. Let’s dive into the insights shared by this influential figure.

A Beacon of Longevity

As Hip Hop celebrates its 50th anniversary, Jermaine Dupri is no stranger to the spotlight. Reflecting on his role as a symbol of longevity in the industry, he expressed immense pride. “It feels amazing because I know of so many people who didn’t expect it to go this far,” he shares. 

But with pride comes responsibility. Dupri acknowledges the challenge of curating a live event like the So So Def Festival, ensuring that the label’s legacy is properly showcased for fans. “Nobody else is going to do it, so I have to make sure it goes off right,” he emphasises.

 “That’s why it’s important for me to do the So So Def Festival this year. However, it’s really been a headache because I have so many artistes who have come through the So So Def umbrella and that I’ve worked with in general. Having so many artistes is interesting because you want to ensure that the legacy of the label is captured properly on stage. Nobody else is going to do it so I have to make sure it goes off right for the fans as well.”

The Formula for a Certified Banger

Dupri’s ability to craft hits that stand the test of time is unparalleled. When asked about the secret formula, he breaks it down to three key elements: “Having hooks that people can sing along with, understand, and relate to is important.” These fundamental principles, Dupri explains, continue to work in today’s music landscape. He points to Ari Lennox’s “Pressure” as a prime example, where his focus on these elements helped create her first number one record.

Atlanta’s Role in Hip Hop

Jermaine Dupri sparks a crucial conversation about Atlanta’s place in Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary celebrations. He mentions how he was prompted to reflect on this during an event introduction, where it was stated that without Atlanta, the course of Hip Hop might have been different. Dupri believes that Atlanta represents the culture and should be acknowledged as the new face of Hip Hop and feels that corporate America and the city itself need to recognise the city’s undeniable influence on the genre.

“I believe that corporate America and the city of Atlanta act as if Atlanta hasn’t been the guiding force in Hip Hop for the last 30 years when it has,” Dupri said.

 “It’s time for them to do so,” Dupri asserts, challenging the notion that New York has always been the sole epicenter of Hip Hop.

“Everybody in this city needs to start understanding that Atlanta is the new face of Hip Hop. I just don’t think that’s been addressed. I think it’s always been a thing that New York is Hip Hop and Atlanta is like a distant cousin. That’s cool if that was your mindset at one particular point in time. But when somebody says that they don’t know what Hip Hop would be if it weren’t for Atlanta for the last 30 years, that means that Atlanta has moved into a different space and corporate America never adjusted. It’s time for them to do so.”

The Verzuz Showdown

Fans have been eagerly anticipating a Verzuz showdown between Jermaine Dupri and Diddy. However, Dupri reveals that the event’s status is uncertain as Diddy is currently focused on his album. While the battle may be on hold for now, it remains an exciting possibility for Hip Hop enthusiasts.

“Right now, I’m not sure that that’s happening because Puff is focused on his album,” Dupri said. “Once his album comes out, I guess we’ll get back into that.”


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