Jermaine Dupri 'Instructs' By Example
If anybody is drafting a blueprint for industry longevity and success, it's Jermaine Dupri. The 27-year-old producer/songwriter/artist/entrepreneur drops his sophomore solo album, "Instructions," Oct.If anybody is drafting a blueprint for industry longevity and success, it's Jermaine Dupri. The 27-year-old producer/songwriter/artist/entrepreneur drops his sophomore solo album, "Instructions," Oct. 2 via his Columbia-distributed So So Def label. It's the follow-up to his platinum-certified and Grammy-nominated 1998 debut, "Jermaine Dupri Presents - Life in 1472: The Original Soundtrack."
"A lot of people don't realize that I've been out here doing what I do for 10 years now," the Atlanta native says. Dupri produced his first record at the age of 12 and has since helmed hits for the likes of Kris Kross, Mariah Carey, TLC, and Jagged Edge.
Dupri raps on nearly every song featured on the 20-track "Instructions." He and Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South rapper Ludacris open with "Welcome to Atlanta," while So So Def's Da Brat is showcased on the hot number "You Bring the Freak out of Me." Xscape, also part of the So So Def family, is featured on "Rock With Me," a melodic pop venture.
Meanwhile, Arista's Usher croons the hook to "Get Some" -- which also spotlights Rockland/Interscope's Boo & Gotti and So So Def artist R.O.C. -- and Moyo/Interscope artist Bilal delivers a Curtis Mayfield-style hook on the creative standout "Superfly." Another notable cut, "Jazzy Hoes Part 2," features Universal's Backbone, Antra/Artemis' Kurupt, Jive's Too Short, So So Def rapper Eddie Cain, and RCA's Field Mob.
Dupri produced nearly all of the tracks except "Yours & Mine" -- which features labelmates Jagged Edge and was produced by Swizz Beatz -- and "Let's Talk About It," which was produced by the Neptunes. Bryan-Michael Cox also co-produced several tracks.
To create an early buzz on "Instructions," the track "Hate Blood" (with Ruff Ryders/Interscope artist Jadakiss and Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam rapper Freeway) was released on vinyl only and serviced to mix-show and club DJs in June. That was followed by the Nate Dogg-featured lead single "Ballin' out of Control," which was serviced to R&B and crossover radio in August. A video clip for the cut was directed by Dave Meyers.
Dupri notes, "When I do a record as an artist, I want to feel like an artist. I feel like I'm cheating myself if I don't get the full-fledged experience that an artist gets by being directed and letting other people contribute to the album."
Dupri also says he intentionally avoided enlisting a cast of superstars for "Instructions." "This time I'm going with artists who aren't really huge yet," he says. "As a producer, it gives me a chance to work with all these new cats coming out, like Backbone and Field Mob."
Noticeably absent, however, is So So Def's 14-year-old hit rapper Lil Bow Wow. "Timing-wise, it just didn't work out," Dupri says. "Lil Bow Wow was doing his [national] tour. Then he was overseas when I was finishing the record."
"Jermaine is always performing a spectacular juggling act," says Mai Huggins-Lassiter, Columbia's VP of urban marketing, who also notes that Dupri is working on the follow-up to Lil Bow Wow's multi-platinum debut, "Beware of Dog," between his own European and stateside promot"ional agendas.
The European leg of that schedule runs Sept. 15-23, which followed the opening of Paramount's new Keanu Reeves film "Hardball." Dupri executive produced the film's So So Def/Sony Soundtrax soundtrack, which was released Sept. 11. In addition to the title track/lead single, which features Lil Bow Wow, Lil' Wayne, Lil' Zane, and Sammie, the soundtrack features Dupri's latest protege, neo-soul singer Fundisha, and other So So Def artists.
On his return from Europe, Dupri will visit retailers, radio stations, and such video outlets as BET's "106 & Park" and "Rap City" and MTV's "DFX." The artist is also coordinating a national tour for October and November featuring the So So Def roster and possibly Nelly and the St. Lunatics.
Before that, Dupri will participate in two Footaction USA in-store appearances in New York (Sept. 29) and Chicago (Oct. 6). The retailer and ABC Radio, via the "Doug Banks Show," is in turn sponsoring a contest in which the winner will spend the day with Dupri.