Jermaine Dupri on his contributions to Hip-Hop: 'I'm the person who showed the youth'

Dupri talks with Buck n Regg about his Atlanta roots, and working with Kris Kross, Biggie, and more
Jermaine Dupri
Jermaine Dupri Photo credit Leon Bennett/Getty Images
By , Audacy

Legendary producer, rapper, and entrepreneur Jermaine Dupri joined hosts Buck N Regg on Hartford's HOT 93.7 this week to discuss his contributions to the special Hip-Hop anniversary celebrations as well as the genre as a whole, looking back on some of his most memorable collabs, partnerships, and more.

LISTEN NOW: Jermaine Dupri with Buck N Regg

Fans in the Atlanta area may have noticed a lot more of Jermaine Dupri rolling around town lately, with his image and artwork celebrating Hip-Hop's 50th as well as the 30th anniversary of his legendary label, So So Def, wrapping the very same MARTA public transit bus he used to take when he was younger.

"Seeing people take pictures of it and being like, 'There goes the bus!,'" Jermaine admits, "is amazing because it was a bus that I couldn't really afford to get on." It was all just one piece in Dupri's efforts to take the reins during the 2023 Hip-Hop 50th celebrations to steer more attention to the South.

"What I saw, a lot of things that were happening with the 50th anniversary was happening because New York started Rap," he adds. "Which we all understand that, but then you have the last 30 of these 50 that's been a number of the south artists that's basically kept Hip-Hop going for these last 30 years."

"The bus was something that represents my neighborhood, me, and just how I came up," Dupri explains. "Whatever I could do for my city and continue to keep trying to push and inspire people in this city."

While finding his own space in the music world as a producer, Jermaine knew early on that he "didn't want to be pigeonholed into just Rap," he says, with his sights set on being able to release both R&B and Hip-Hop records. "When I made 'My Way' for Usher, that was the first time I ever produced a male R&B artist. I didn't actually know what I was doing. I was just trying to go through it and do it the best way that I could."

Over the years, Dupri has become known for bringing numerous young artists to the forefront, but that was never the plan. "With Kris Kross, I knew it was a lane that nobody else had," he explains. "But I didn't know that God wanted me to be that person to do that for Hip-Hop, period. So, when people ask me 'What is my contribution to 50 years of Hip-Hop?' -- I'm the person who showed the youth that they can be in Hip-Hop and they can make money. And I showed the companies that they can make money off of younger artists as well."

While pulling some random music off of the wall to get Jermaine's reactions, his work with Notorious B.I.G. came up as well. "Yeah, that was my guy," says Dupri. "Me and Big had an amazing relationship, and we probably would have made a whole bunch of records together." Touring at the time "Juicy" arrived, Jermaine remembers Biggie asking him for a remix to the track to "get fans jumping off the cliff" for the single, the same way his remix for "Big Poppa" helped. Little did he know "he was getting ready to turn into the biggest rapper -- I think he felt it, but he was just ready at that point."

Listen to Buck n Regg's full chat with Jermaine Dupri above, and stay tuned for more conversations with your favorite stars and artists right here on Audacy.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images