Jermaine Dupri, songwriter and producer of three number one hits from Usher’s Confessions, 2004’s number one hit, inked a deal to become President of Virgin Records Urban Music on last week.
As part of the deal, finalized on Jan. 24, Dupri is rumored to get $15 to $20 million; he will bring his So So Def label into Virgin and oversee Virgin’s entire urban music operation. Dupri will also record as a solo act and produce artists on Virgin, as well as provide production service for EMI many record labels.
As president, Dupri will report directly to Matt Serletic, CEO of Virgin, and to Larry Mestel, Virgin General Manager, on operational matters. Dupri will also work daily with Lionel Ridenour, Virgin Executive Vice President Urban Music.
“I am happy to join the Virgin Records family, and look forward to working with Matt, Larry, Lione and the whole Virgin Records team. As the new President of Urban Music for Virgin Records, I’m up for the challenge. I will catapult Virgin into a young, hip label with chart-topping success in both R&B and rap music,” said Dupree.
“All of us at Virgin are thrilled to welcome Jermaine to the company. We know that his remarkable ability to identify and develop talent will continue to build great careers in the years to come, while bringing innovative and refreshing ideas to well-established acts,” said Serletic.
The 32-year-old, standing only 5-foot-4-inches, and covered in tattoos, always had an infatuation for hip-hop.
In 1985, Dupri was dancing and rapping on Fresh Fest, a national hip-hop tour, starring Run-DMC, the Fat Boys and Whoodini, where he first developed a love for hip-hop music.
After the tour, Dupri got some Maxell cassettes, set up turntables in his mother’s house and created new music using records from Africa Bambaata, Whitney Houston and DeBarge for a friend to sell in the North Clayton High School cafeteria. From that moment on there has been no turning back for Dupri.
Dupri was instrumental in producing such records as Kriss Kross’ debut “Totally Krossed Out” which led to five-million-plus sales and played a key role in the establishment of the So So Def label. Under his guidance artists like Xscape sold a million copies with their debut, “Hummin Comin’ At Cha,” and Da Brat’s “Funkdafied,” became the first album by a female rapper to sell one million copies.
As an independent producer, Dupri helped Usher in 1997 with hits such as “My Way,” You Make Me Wanna…” and the billboard pop Number One “Nice & Slow.” Dupri also co-wrote the Number One pop smash “U Got It bad” from Usher’s 8701 album.
Recently, Dupri produced hits “Burn,” “Confessions Part II,” and “My Boo,” which helped Usher’s Confessions album sell over eight million, making it the best-selling album of the year.
Dupri is currently twice-nominated this year for the Best R&B Song Grammy for co-writing “Burn” and “My Boo,” and shares the nomination for Album of the Year for his production and engineering/mixing work on Confessions.