Jermaine Dupri Looks To Follow Diddy Down Free-Agent Path

Producer's So So Def imprint likely to split from Columbia when deal runs out this month.

When Jermaine Dupri came to New York last week to help his friend P. Diddy

celebrate Bad Boy's newfound independence from Arista, it wasn't just

because he loves to dance and be in the company of fine models.

Dupri can relate to Puffy. He's about to embark on a new trail with his So

So Def imprint, home to Bow Wow, Da Brat, Jagged Edge and Dupri himself.

"My deal with Columbia is basically up at the end of this month," Dupri

divulged before going into the shindig. "They ain't come to me and said

nothing yet, so I'm possibly going to be a free agent as well. I'm gonna

take all my artists. I'm gonna make sure my artists come with me. It's only

right it stays So So Def. You wouldn't know them if it wasn't for me, so

we're gonna work that out."

A spokesperson at Columbia's parent company, Sony, declined to comment.

Aside from being a CEO, Dupri the producer said he's looking forward to

working in the studio again with Usher. The two plan to follow up on the

success of 8701 with more collaborations for the singer's next LP.

"We're working soon," J.D. said. "Matter of fact, his tour ends on [July]

14, and we're back into the studio. When we was in the studio [working on

8701,] we was nervous like, 'Yo, we can't top "You Make Me Wanna ...

." ' Then we came with 'U Got It Bad.' So ain't no telling. We just

collaborate. We're good like that, so something's gonna come out of it

— some heat."

Usher is equally ready to link up with his friend.

"Definitely jumping back in the studio," Usher said last month of his plans

after the tour. "I know I will be working with the Neptunes once again. I'll

definitely be working with Jermaine Dupri."