Just over a year ago, Jermaine Dupri made headlines after an acrimonious split with Island Records and Island Def Jam head L.A. Reid.
The multi-platinum producer left his post as president of the Island Records Urban Music department last January, shortly after on-again, off-again girlfriend Janet Jackson left the label On the way out, JD voiced his displeasure with the company and said Reid was jealous of the younger music executive.
Now, the hit-maker and his label, So So Def, are back, this time on the independent route with his artist Dondria, a Dallas native who performed around her hometown with Dupri during last week’s NBA All-Star festivities.
“We on the grind with new artists,” JD told MTV News. “And we’re making sure people understand that the only way the music business is gonna live is if you keep putting out new music. So, we keep bringing new artists. I’m out here with my sleeves rolled up doing that I gotta do. As always, you know?”
His comments echo the criticism he levied at Reid about his tenure at Island Records. (At the time of his departure, an Island source told the New York Post that Dupri sulked and collected a hefty paycheck without contributing much work after Jackson’s Discipline album wasn’t received as well as the label hoped.)
“It was a situation where it felt very stagnant to me,” Dupri said of Island last year. “As a person who is used to putting out new records and continuing to do that, it just wasn’t turning over as being that place to me where I should stick to it and see if it was going to turn around.”
Dupri discovered Dondria via YouTube a few years ago, and the singer has been with the So So Def CEO ever since. Currently, Dondria is promoting her new single, “You’re the One,” which is rising on the R&B charts and resting in the #42 position with no major backing.
“We’re looking to take it ever further,” said Dupri, who also said he produced a new Janet Jackson song for her upcoming movie, “Why Did I Get Married Too?”