It was rumored the other day that Jermaine Dupri had been canned like tuna from his position as mini-boss of Urban Music (er, Head Jig in Charge) at Virgin Records, and now it’s been confirmed in a news item here at XXL.
Dupri claims he wasn’t fired, but rather opted to resign:
“Since there are so many rumors running rampant about my position at Virgin Records, I feel that it is necessary to set the record straight. I was not forced out of the company, I made a decision that it was in my best interest to leave.”
Which I took to mean that, as part of his assuredly generous severance deal with the label, he was allowed to pretend as if he has an option to stay if he wants. As long as it’s understood that he’ll be leaving either way.
From what I understand, this primarily had to do with Janet Jackson, whose most recent megabomb of an album was produced by Dupri. It was the last album in her deal with Virgin Records, which was the biggest record deal evar way the eff back in 1992 and still one of the biggest such deals to this day.
[REM has a similar with Warner Bros., which is why they continue releasing albums for that label despite the fact that they haven't had a real hit since the days of "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"]
You get the idea that Virgin began to realize Janet Jackson might not be worth a shit way back in the late ’90s, when she did that shit J Dilla. But it’s not like they could fire her ass, per the terms of her contract. Plus she is, after all, Janet Jackson; it’s not outside the realm of possibility that she could bust out another Rhythm Nation or some such.
Then there was that incident at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, which was pretty disgusting regardless of your opinion of nudity on TV and the FCC. Hell, I’ve been known to leave strip clubs if any of the “entertainment” is 40+, and that’s after I paid the $10 cover. So to say that this skank was skating on thin ice might be a bit of an understatement.
Jermaine Durpri’s career, meanwhile, has been on an inexplicable upswing for the past couple of years. A few years ago, he had his home raided and all of his shit taken away by the IRS for failure to pay back taxes. But in 2004 and 2005, he had production credits on the most recent albums by Usher and Mariah Carey, both of which were the biggest albums the year they were released.
And since JD has been banging Janet Jackson for the past few years anyway, it was a no-brainer for Virgin to bring him in as jig records chief for the release of her last album with the label. You have to wonder though whether they ever intended to keep him around much longer after he worked his Voyage of Mimi magic on 20 Years Old.
Successful though he may be, Jermaine Dupri has never seemed to have much of a talent other than ghostwriting for kiddie rappers. None of the other groups he’s signed to Virgin during his tenure (Da Brat, Daz Dillinger, Dem Franchize Boyz, etc.) have been particularly worth a shit. And now that his girlfriend’s contract is up, what use is he?