Despite Jermaine Dupri's recent IRS woes, JD looked far from a man in the throws of financial difficulties during Atlanta's NBA All-Star Game weekend. He was ballin' out of control, hosting a bevy of parties and acting like the perfect ATL ambassador.
Having so many of his b-ball and rapper friends in town wasn't the only reason for Dupri to be jubilant. He has a new distribution deal for So So Def, and Arista CEO Antonio "LA" Reid recently made Dupri a senior vice president of his company.
"My job with Arista now is to be, like, the person on the street always after talent," JD explained in between parties. "When I had So So Def at [Columbia], I put out more records on new artists than a lot of these companies. A lot of these companies continue to keep regurgitating the same artists over and over. And that's cool, but take pride in finding new artists. A lot of labels are nervous about that, they're scared. They don't know how to break them. So I'm going to bring that to the table."
Dupri, who'll also be executive producing albums for Arista, will have to keep his eyes wide open from behind his Versace shades when looking for the next big thing. Not only does he have to discover acts for Reid, but he also has to replenish So So Def's roster.
"Da Brat and Fundisha are moving with me [to Arista]," Dupri said of his lineup change. "Jagged Edge and Bow Wow, they're going to stay at Columbia."
JD said he'll probably be working with his two former acts in some capacity, but his role in their careers will be drastically lessened.
"I feel like I've developed them enough that they should be all right," he explained. "They have a formula, each one of the groups has a formula, but at the same time it's kind of hard to walk away from your kids. That's like basically what I'm doing. But businesswise it's something I had to do. I had to make my move and they had to make theirs. We're all in the business, and that's part of the business."
Dupri is already handling his business at Arista. He's signed a new MC from Atlanta named Bone Crusher who's building a buzz in the South with his debut single, "Never Scared," featuring Killer Mike and T.I.
"He was the first signing to So So Def/Arista," Dupri said. "His name is basically [about] ... if he falls on you he'll crush your bones. He's a big guy. Kind of an animated dude, he reminded me of Busta Rhymes, but in a bigger, bigger shell, basically. And as of right now, he's got the #1 record in Atlanta, the hottest record out here."
Bone Crusher's album is due this spring. There are no release dates for Da Brat or Fundisha yet.