December 12 [7:55 EDT] -- The hottest producer in hip hop this side of Puffy Combs is Atlanta-based Jermaine Dupri, who has helped create hits for Mariah Carey, TLC, Da Brat, and X-Scape.
Dupri's latest sensation is Usher, whose second album, "My Way" boasts the hit single, "You Make Me Wanna." [600k QuickTime] Ironically, Usher's first album was produced by Puffy, but it was no where near as successful as "My Way." Dupri told MTV News recently that he knew all along that Usher was hungry for success.
"Usher's first album, it wasn't really like huge, but I knew deep down inside his heart he wanted to be a big superstar, or whatever, and all it took was for me to do what I had to do and for him to do what he had to do, so usually when I see an artist that's like, hungry or starving, wanting to be bigger than they are or bigger than they're company thinks they're supposed to be, that's the type of artist I want to work with."
Besides continuing to produce and remix, Dupri has begun working on TLC's next album, and like Puff Daddy, he will debut as a solo artist in the new year. His first single, "The Party Continues" features Da Brat and Usher on backing vocals.