Jermaine Dupri hosted a monstrous private party in Atlanta on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t his usual patented JD throwdown. Sure, some of his closest friends and collaborators came out — Nelly, Usher, Lil Jon, Monica, Jagged Edge, T-Boz, Chris Webber and of course Janet Jackson — but this one was a little more special for JD. The party was the grand opening of his club, Studio 72.
For a music mogul whose party-throwing is almost as legendary as his nearly two decades of hit records, it seems like JD would have been in the nightclub business years ago. But believe it or not, he never really thought about opening his own party spot until about seven months ago, when the proverbial opportunity came knocking at his door.
“I don’t know,” JD said on Tuesday when asked why he’d never opened a club before. “I had to find the right spot — a place where I could do it and feel comfortable. I found a spot, it needed help, so I felt it was the perfect time for me to come in. I never had an inspiration to own no club, but I seen the opportunity and I was like, ’Let’s go get it.’ ”
Thus, the ATL has a new place JD guarantees will be jamming on the daily — Studio 72, the inspiration for which should be obvious.
“I wish I could have went to Studio 54,” Dupri said of the notorious disco-era New York nightclub that acted as muse for his new place. “Just from the picture, it looks like the spot I would have been in every week. It looks like it was so poppin’ in there, I would have moved to New York. When you see a club that has Michael Jackson standing on the line outside, you know that sh– was incredible. It ain’t about money for me. I’m trying to have fun. I want people to come from out of town and have to be here, like, ’I heard Studio 72 is the sh–.’ ”
JD doesn’t do it till rap’s favorite closing time — 6 a.m. — but he comes real close. Studio 72 closes at 5 a.m. and is the only club in Atlanta that serves spirits until 4 a.m. Plus, it’s full of special features.
“We got fish tanks, five bars, a lot of VIP [areas],” he said. “Most of the clubs I go to, the dance floors ain’t really a big spot. It’s mostly a room where everybody could sit down and people could mix and mingle. We got so many different areas: the Chocolate Room, the Jacuzzi Room, with girls in the jacuzzi. The flair is the most important thing.
“We remodeled and brought out my ideas,” he added. “I’m a hole-filler. I always try to put things in places that I don’t see. The club action out here is just club action; it ain’t no real theme to it. People go to the club to see who’s there. What I’m trying to do is create a club that’s just as exciting without worrying about who’s there. People don’t come out unless it’s somebody’s album-release party. I like going out on regular nights. With me, I’mma put all my interest into the night instead of who’s coming to the club. Every night the club will have a theme.”
Some of the nights include Mardi Gras Thursdays and Krush Groove Fridays, where a legendary DJ will be spinning every week.
“The legendary DJs I grew up listening to,” JD explained about Friday’s theme. “It ain’t gonna be an old-school night, but all the staff is gonna dress how we used to do it. Just bring the flavor to the club.”
JD says he will be a hands-on club owner — literally. Besides popping bottles, he will occasionally be on the turntables spinning records, as will his good friend Lil Jon.
“I talked to Lil Jon, he’s gonna come down there,” Dupri explained. “When he used to work for So So Def [Records], he was also DJing at this club called the Phoenix. We was talking about re-creating the Phoenix. We might bring ’Phoenix Night’ back with Lil Jon on the ones and twos.”
On Wednesday night, His Crunkness brought back the old feeling: Jon got on the mic for more than an hour, moving the crowd with his enthusiasm.
The club opens to the public on Friday night.
Of course, Dupri certainly has other ventures to keep him busy. As president of Island Records’ urban music division, he’s overseeing the September 25 release of Jagged Edge’s Baby Makin’ Project, and during the Magic Convention in Las Vegas, he debuted the clothing line he has with Travis Barker, So So Famous. His autobiography, “Young, Rich, and Dangerous,” comes out in October. And although he won’t be working on Bow Wow and Omarion’s Face Off LP (see “Bow Wow Cuts Jermaine Dupri’s Leash While Omarion Promises To Live Up To B2K Hype” ), he’s still locked in with Usher, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey (see “Jermaine Dupri Says Janet Will Switch Labels, Be On ’Rush Hour 3′ LP” ).
“I’m mixing one of Mariah’s records today,” JD said. “I don’t know if it’s her first single, but I’m mixing one of the records that I think L.A. [Reid, head of Island Def Jam] is thinking about as one of her first singles.”
The song is so top-secret, Dupri said he hasn’t even heard it yet.
“I don’t even know,” he answered when questioned about the record’s specifics. “You know what’s crazy about the Mariah records? When I work on a Mariah record, she always goes home and records her vocals without me. I ain’t heard the song! She calls and tells me, ’I finished, let’s go and do it.’
“She’s a person that you have to respect her for doing her job,” he added. “She respects me for doing my job. When I’m in the studio, she don’t question what kick [-drum sound] I use. She don’t question if I’m using the right snare. She might say, ’I ain’t feeling it.’ I could say the same thing. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve said, ’Mariah, I think you need to sing this part over.’ But after the last album, we got a pretty good understanding. She knows what I’m looking for from her now. We’re hoping we have the same formula this time.”