Jermaine Dupri Celebrates His Long Road to Greatness With ‘So So Def 25′ Compilation
"I make the big moves, do the big things/Take small groups, turn them into big names," Jermaine Dupri raps on his 1998 hit song "Money Ain't a Thang." The So So Def Recordings founder had every right to brag back then on the Jay-Z-assisted banger featured on JD's Life in 1472 album. And to his benefit, the statement still holds true today.
Jermaine Dupri, 45, has been the guiding light for some of hip-hop's most gifted talents and had a helping hand in the records that helped make them a fan favorite. Crafting chart-topping records is his forte. At 19, he produced and wrote Kriss Kross' tongue-twisting rap ode "Jump." The song showcased his ability to mix samples like the Ohio Players' "Funky Worm" and the guitar line from the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and turn them into the sonic platform for Mac Daddy and Daddy Mac's lyrics. Ultimately, "Jump" went on to become a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 record and a hip-hop staple that still gets burn more than two decades after it debuted in 1992.
Like Kriss Kross, Bow Wow, Da Brat, J-Kwon, Bone Crusher and YoungBloodZ are just a few of the other artists JD has worked with under his So So Def umbrella, which officially opened wide in 1993. This year, the hip-hop mogul's lauded record label celebrates 25 years in the music industry, an exceptional feat considering the genre of hip-hop itself is 45 years old.
To celebrate the milestone, today (June 29), Jermaine Dupri and Sony Music’s Certified Classics release the essential compilation So So Def 25, a digital album featuring classics including JD's "Money Ain't a Thang" featuring Jay-Z, his collabo "Welcome to Atlanta (Remix)" with Diddy, Murphy Lee, Snoop Dogg and Ludacris; Kris Kross’ "Jump," Da Brat’s "Funkdafied," Bow Wow’s "Like You," YoungBloodZ’s "Damn!" featuring Lil’ Jon and much more. Earlier this month, the production powerhouse also curated a So So Def 25 playlist to celebrate the iconic Atlanta-based hip-hop label's 25th anniversary.
While hip-hop is the genre that Jermaine Dupri has thrived in, R&B has also been pretty good to him. Mariah Carey, Xscape, Usher and Jagged Edge have all been privy to JD's mighty pen and production expertise. If you ever needed a reminder that Jermaine's got skills, just listen to gems like Mariah's "We Belong Together" (for which he won a Grammy in 2006) and Usher's "Burn." Music like that in anyone's catalog is cause for a party, but there's a more important message behind the So So Def 25 compilation release. "This year is the 25th anniversary of So So Def, so, we just celebrating," JD tells XXL. "And then really making sure that people understand the depth of the label and how many artists came from the label and all the music that came from the label. I had to do this so people could really understand the depth of the label."
His achievements as a label boss can't be denied and neither can his songwriting, which is why he was inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame earlier this month. Jermaine's recognition as an elite songwriter marks him as the second rapper ever to join the esteemed group behind Jay-Z. "I can’t fucking believe it!!! This what all the long nights and early mornings is all about," JD, who's also a creative force on TV as seen on The Rap Game, wrote in a caption on Instagram when he first found out he was being inducted earlier this year.
"For me, think I was chosen for how many songs I've written and the artists I've written for," shares JD, who names Babyface, Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Jay-Z as great songwriters who've influenced him. "It's like so many different artists. I'm sure they don't have that many people who write for that many different artists. I don't know if John Mellencamp wrote for 10 different artists. I think they just saw it as a special thing."
JD's drip and songwriting prowess can be heard across the 17-track So So Def 25 compilation, out now on all DSPs. Besides putting a new generation on to his music and serving his longtime fans with certified classics, releasing this project was important to JD for a very simple reason. He wants to ensure people don't forget about the artists that built the framework for hip-hop to flourish today.
"I think the compilation and the playlist goes hand in hand with me getting inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame because I guess in hip-hop since it's not a bunch of legacy artists, it's not really talked about so I'm kinda like making sure that those that do hit this mark, that they get talked about and it's not forgotten the way a lot of things are," the Atlanta native explains. "So, I'm tryna push the gas on everybody about this and remind everybody and talk about it as much as possible so people understand it wasn't an easy road, but we got here. And we got here with hits by the way. It wasn't just songs. This is real No. 1 records."
The party continues.
See Photos of Jermaine Dupri