Jermaine Dupri Is ‘Geeked’ About Getting Out Of His Comfort Zone

Producer's 'whole new explosion' includes DJing and writing a rock record for Weezer.

Jermaine Dupri has been DJing for decades, but over the past few years, he’s decided to go public with his love for the turntables. His ’80s vs. ’90s DJ battles at Atlanta club Studio 72 always have the crowd moving, and for the past several months, party promoters have been booking JD to keep their dance floors packed.

“DJing, I’m really trying to make people understand what I actually do,” Dupri said last week via phone from Atlanta. “I don’t think people take DJing seriously, like how they take a drummer seriously or playing guitar seriously. When you see Lil Wayne with the guitar, he’s really one to play guitar. He plays it, and he’s getting better and better. He really wants everyone to know he plays guitar. I’ve been DJing all my life. It’s always been something I’ve kept secret. It’s always been a gift I had, and I never revealed it to anybody.”

Over the weekend, Jermaine DJed for the crowd at a Weezer concert in Tallahassee, Florida . Later in the night, Dupri jumped onstage with the fellas; Dupri wrote the group’s “Can’t Stop Partying.” He was playing around with his rock side, and it turned into something solid.

“Me and Rivers hooked up,” he said of working with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. “I sent them a song. … This was a project that opened me to say, ‘Jermaine, show people more of the other side of what you do.’ I wrote songs, and I throw them songs away. I wrote so many records in the past, and I threw them away. Because I don’t have any artists to give them to and they don’t sound like none of my artists. I’ll be like, ‘I don’t know about this.’

“So I went in there one night drunk in the studio, and I made a rock record where I was playing the drums and singing this melody and I tracked it,” he continued. “I said, ‘This song would sound crazy if somebody took me seriously.’ So I sent it to Weezer. I ain’t know these guys or nothing. They hit me back and said, ‘We love this song. We want to cut it.’ I said, ‘What? Get the f— outta here.’ I went to L.A. and met with Rivers, and we hit it off. They put my song on the album. That’s, like, a first. A whole new explosion for me. I was really geeked on that.”

Besides Usher’s new album — which he’s pretty much wrapped up — Dupri said he’s not focusing on any other projects outside of his So So Def roster. Those projects include albums from Dondria, who has the single “You’re the One,” and songwriter/producer Johntá Austin, whose new LP Love Sex Religion is dropping soon. Dupri is also inking newcomer Brandon Hines.