If experience is the best teacher, then there’s no one better to teach the world about making hit records and living the lavish life than Jermaine Dupri.
Even before making hits with his own So So Def Records, the Atlanta-based rapper-producer-songwriter-record mogul was guiding the careers of the quadruple platinum Kris Kross. Dupri’s success with Kris Kross set the stage for his groundbreaking work with Lil Bow Wow, Jagged Edge, Da Brat and Xscape on So So Def, as well as a host of work with such artists as Usher and Janet.
In 1998, Dupri branched out and released his debut album, Jermaine Dupri Presents Life In 1472. Chock full of hits such as “Money Ain’t A Thang” and “The Party Continues,” the collection went platinum and further buttressed Dupri’s substantial musical legacy.
With his second album, Instructions, Dupri has crafted another sonic masterpiece, one that seems destined to rule the charts. He intends for the collection to serve as a glimpse into his long-running career as a top-tier record maker and world-class baller.
“People always ask me how long somebody can last as long as I’ve been lasting and continue to keep doing it, so I figured that people didn’t really know how to do that,” Dupri explains. “That’s one of the most asked questions and it’s one of the hardest feats in the music industry, maintaining and continuing to keep doing at the same pace for a lengthy amount of years. I feel that if anybody’s got the instructions on how to do it, then I’m that person.”
Putting his own words into action, Dupri serves up the funky, irresistible lead single “Ballin’ Out Of Control.” Featuring guest vocals from Nate Dogg, the cut allows listeners to hear Dupri doing what he does best: boasting about his world of leisure.
“People know me, and want to know me, as a baller more than anything else,” he says. “When people see me on the streets, they talk to me more about the aspects of balling side of things than the other stuff. I gave people what I thought they wanted, since they’re always asking me about my cars and if they can have some money. People want to associate me with money.”
Never one to disappoint his fans, Dupri keeps the vibe alive on “Money, Hoes & Power.” Pimpin’ Ken kicks some street verbology at the start of the song, while UGK join Dupri on the boastfest.
After earning respect as one of the best underground groups in hip-hop, UGK adds the perfect mix of the streets to “Money, Hoes & Power.”
“They keep the song as street as it needs to be,” Dupri says of the future smash single. “It’s got a good catchy hook where it can do what it needs to do on the radio, but they keep the song street where it will keep credibility in the hood.”
Dupri’s hood will be throwing a Super Bowl-sized celebration when they hear “Welcome To Atlanta.” Rocking over a beat similar to the one on Boogie Down Productions” classic “Jack Of Spades,” Dupri and guest vocalist Ludacris let the world know about the splendor they experience in the capital of the New South. It’s a substantial tribute to Atlanta, one all the more urgent because of the pounding production.
“I always wanted to do something over that beat,” Dupri explains. “I wanted to make something that was an event-sounding record and I think that when you hear that song it sounds like something is about to happen. We’re just welcoming people to our city.”
Despite its allure, city life can be downright lonely if money and material items are the only things surrounding you. Dupri knows this and recorded the Swizz Beatz-produced “World Is Yours And Mine” about the type of woman that he hopes to eventually spend his life with.
In an era dominated by unflinching looks at relationships, Dupri realizes that his song expresses himself as a lover, showing that life isn’t about being a cold-hearted individual devoid of feelings.
“Everybody’s got to stop acting like they wear bandanas all day, every day,” Dupri says. “You’ve got to face the facts that you do sit on the phone sometimes and try to talk to a girl for hours. Everybody’s done that, even the hardest of thugs. I think it’s appropriate on my album because I’m talking about so much wealth that I needed to let people know that life ain’t shit if you can’t share it with somebody. To have a fly life like I’ve got, it’s important to have somebody to share it with.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Dupri acknowledges the jealousy and envy of others on “Hate Blood” before continuing the celebration of his rich musical history on “Rock With Me.”
Dupri invited Swizz Beatz and The Neptunes, the latter of whom produced the bouncy “Let’s Talk About It,” to join him on Instructions. He knows that he’s one of the most powerful producers in the business, but Dupri wanted to extend his hand to other beatmakers whose work he admires.
“At first I planned on having more producers on it,” he says. “I wanted to feel like an artist for once in my life. I wanted to use other producers for respect, to let them know that I listen to other people’s music and that I’m just not out here on my own page. I want them to know that I listen to them and that even though it’s competitive, they’re the ones that keep my boat moving.”
Dupri’s boat has been moving at mach speed, as his So So Def Records has earned more than 20 gold and platinum certifications since emerging in the early 1990s. With a steady string of hits, Dupri and his company have established themselves as ground zero for artists seeking chart-topping hits in the fields of rap, R&B and bass.
“I want people to realize that So So Def has been one of the most successful and consistent labels in the game in the last 10 years,” Dupri says. “We haven’t had a slew of artists, but the artists that we do come out with have always had the same momentum. I hope that I can keep it up.”
With the phenomenal Instructions ready to make its mark with critics and fans alike, there’s no denying that Dupri has improved upon his first album and further established himself as hip-hop’s premier rapper-producer.
“My last record, people were a little confused because I was trying to prove a production point,” Dupri explains. “This time, my production credit as a producer is there. If you don’t know by now, you’re never going to know. I was just having fun making songs with this album.”
It’s a fun that becomes more infectious with each listen.