Jermaine Dupri is a producer, songwriter, artist, label owner and corporate executive — now he’s about to add author to the list.
Dupri recently inked a deal with Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, for his prospective autobiography, “Young, Rich and Dangerous: My Life in Music.” He promises to show the way for aspiring wannabes in the volume, for which he submitted a 45-page proposal. “It’s a road map,” he writes in the proposal’s introduction.
“You might never have heard of me,” Dupri writes, “unless you pay attention to stuff like Us Magazine, which likes to put me and my girlfriend Janet [Jackson] on their best- or worst-dressed list from time to time. But I’m that little guy working the soundboard in the studio who’s made some of the biggest stars in R&B.”
Dupri plans to co-author the book with business journalist Samantha Marshall and organize it into eight chapters, or “tracks” (for instance, track one, “Home Alone,” will be about his childhood). It won’t exactly be a tell-all, but “Young, Rich and Dangerous” promises to reveal what life was like in the studio with Usher, Mariah, Lil Jon and Bow Wow (who Dupri describes as a “brat”). The episodes are to be punctuated with candid photographs and behind-the-scenes shots of parties and awards shows.
“People ask me all the time if I get jealous that Usher’s the big star and I don’t have anywhere near the kind of fame and screaming female fans he has,” Dupri writes in the proposal. “No way! It’s like how Berry Gordy felt about Smokey Robinson. There’s a piece of me in Usher, like there is in all the artists I’ve worked with over the years.”
Dupri then claims that Usher’s Confessions album is really his story, “me cheating on my steady girlfriend, having a baby with that other woman and having to confess to everything that happened to my main girl.”
But Dupri doesn’t take all the credit for Usher’s 2004 LP, even though he says he came up “with the lyrics, beats, tracks and everything.”
“Whenever [Usher] makes a hit, he’s always in love with some girl, and he’s usually at the end of that relationship,” Dupri continues. “His relationship with [TLC singer] Chilli was going into flame-out, and I told him to … let it ’Burn.’ Hence the song. Next time we do an album together, if he’s not in love, I might be nervous!”
Dupri also promises to reveal moments from his own love life with Janet, whom he calls his soul mate. Part of what he appreciates about her, he writes, is that she understands the business and goes to strip clubs with him (see “Dupri Hits The Strip Club With Janet, Shakes It With Mariah” ). “I even took Janet to Magic City so she could see where I go,” he writes. “It was no big deal.”
“People are always asking how I got a woman like that,” he writes. “Eminem likes to be a hater, but I’m OK with that because I understand that he doesn’t pick on anyone if they aren’t successful. I was even excited when he put me in his song — kinda. I didn’t even mind all that much when Chris Rock went off at the Grammys last year. He said that finding out I was with Janet was like finding out they were selling Bentleys for $4 and he missed it. But you gotta understand. Janet’s a person I think every man in the world probably dreamed about all his life. I can’t be mad at him.”
The book might also feature some of Dupri’s poetry, since three of his poems are included in the proposal. One includes the lines, “I feel like I’m cold when I know I’m hot/ I wonder what could happen if I got shot/ Bang!!!!/ Would radio play all my records?” He explains, “That’s the crazy thing about success. The more you have it, the more problems it brings. I still don’t have the fame or recognition of a Diddy or a Jay-Z, despite how many hits I’ve had.”
He also laments about Virgin, where he is the head of the urban-music division (see “Virgin Records Snapping Up Jermaine Dupri And So So Def” ): “That place is like a morgue.” But he also offers up a more hopeful perspective about what he hopes to do: “Blow up a sinking label’s record sales” to make “urban music history.” “Watch this space because now I’m gonna make some noise!”
Dupri plans to promote “Young, Rich and Dangerous” with a book tour and release parties in Atlanta and New York. He also plans do TV and radio spots, hit college campuses and sell copies at his Cafe Dupri restaurant in Atlanta.