SCRATCH: Jermaine Dupri Gets Fired From Def Jam- Good Riddance!!!

So Jermaine Dupri got canned from his gig running the urban division in the Island division of Def Jam. Big surprise there. Everybody knows that LA Reid created that position specifically for JD, after his tenure running the urban division at Virgin Records went bust. It was LA Reid’s way of, ahem, “paying it forward.” Which is the way the music business (and most of the world) is run, if you haven’t already caught wind of that fact.

Still, I can’t help but feel that this was a great move for Island Def Jam and for Jermaine Dupri. I’m guessing it was some time last year that a sneaker-fetching intern pulled JD aside and showed him this miraculous new technology that was beginning to gain some steam. It was called, the Internet. Upon discovering the Internet, Jermaine began taping himself and throwing videos up on Youtube, not unlike Diddy and his infamous Diddy vlogs. Difference is, JD’s vlogs weren’t always so self congratulatory. Sure, he had some bad moments, but for the most part, it seemed he was embracing the technology in a very pure and organic way.

But before all of that, I’m sure within hours of being exposed to the Internet, Jermaine Dupri was lead to the third most popular online destination in the world, Youtube, and he discovered this singer Phatffat. He saw that Phatffat was drawing a huge audience with her youtube videos covering other people’s songs, an audience that would ordinarily be paying attention to the artists that Island Def Jam was trying to create a buzz for. Here was a very homegrown online buzz, and Jermaine had to have it. So he quickly signed her up, adopted her real name Dondria, and tried to gain some awareness for her music within the industry, even having listening parties and things of that nature. Basically, the shit a label does for a regular artist.

Later in the year, Proctor and Gamble stepped in, said they wanted to create an ad-supported record label– which is one of the new business models for the music business, don’t be fooled– and TAG Records was created. Unfortunately, rather than use his years of A&R experience to find some genuine talent, JD signed Q Da Kid, who had been sitting on the bench at So So Def for years. Now I’m not insinuating that Q Da Kid doesn’t have talent, or that he won’t “blow up” (in some modern sense of what that means). But I think it’d be fair to say the buzz on him right now is less than stellar.

All the while, Janet Jackson’s album, Discipline, despite being a very solid project, failed to sell many records and overall had brand Janet looking bad. Then there was this guy 9th Ward, who if you may recall, was featured in XXL’s very own Show and Prove section a few months ago. From New Orleans, he was spitting the realest shit he ever wrote, but it failed to impact on listeners, and his project seems to have stalled out.

All in all, seems like during JD’s tenure, he didn’t make much of an impact on an executive level. As a producer, he’s always been noteworthy and capable of churning out hits. He gets the right beatmakers, the best songwriters, and has a knack for pulling great performances out of talent. But as an executive, at least during the last ten years or so, he’s been largely a failure. He bounces around the music business, always gets executive jobs, but doesn’t do much.

For that reason, I think it’s great that Def Jam is giving him the pink slip. I think continuing to give people jobs who’ve continuously failed just shows the ineptitude of the major labels at the corporate level to bring in real executive talent who can truly run a record label from a dollars and cents standpoint. Since the majors want to play the numbers game, and want it to be all about meeting a bottom line, then get some real number crunching type executives in place. Stop wasting your time with music people. Because at this point it’s not even much about real music anymore so much as it’s about creating a sheer musical product, one that can be monetized in whatever way possible. I’m sure anyone who went to the movies over the holidays saw the Flo Rida, Trey Songz and Janelle Monae urban version of “Jingle Bells” playing before the film started. I rest my case on that point.

For JD, this is a great opportunity for him to realize in a very real world way what he’s alluded to a bunch of times over the past few year- that the traditional music business is dead. That the majors are doing business ass backwards, and that the business model is broken. That’s why Jay-Z bowed out gracefully. He wasn’t going to waste his time working at a major label when the business is clearly elsewhere at the moment. So why should JD?

I know JD has a lot… A LOT… of haters. I, for one, was won over by his persistence a few years ago. I had to really acknowledge that dude had hits upon hits. That he really was a slept on presence in the business. I think he’s more forward thinking than he lets on, because, well, being an exec and putting on that show and saying all the right things is what he gets paid for. But deep down, him and anyone else at a major knows the truth. That the business is a complete and utter disaster. Better to get out now and move on to some new way of doing things. I mean, it sucks. It’s like a bicycle maker trying to sell bikes when the automobile was introduced. But that man had to adapt, and so should JD.

So good riddance. Def Jam did you a favor. They just want a product to sell, and they can’t properly sell it anyway. So who cares? Just keep it moving and start a record label with a technology company or something. Ya’know, a company that actually knows what it’s doing.

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • DV8

    What a waste of time and money for both JD and DefJam. JD is a legend in the game. He will be back in some form. Major labels suck and yes that does include DefJam now. Underground/Independant is the way to go. Fuck the Commercial Mainstream.

  • Crocker

    Na Na Na Na….Na Na Na Na….Hey, Hey, Hey..Goodbye!!!!!

  • Phil

    I will always give JD credit for being one of the best R&B producers/songwriters of my generation. I mean, damn, he might be the best. But Def Jam has been a sinking ship since Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles left! I knew from day one that putting JD in that mix would not work.

  • Worley

    All of these rapper/producer execs ain’t real execs. They are there to talk some “brother talk” to the “talent.” I wouldn’t be surprised if their salary is a contractual way of f*cking them out of the proceeds from the “talent” they develop.

    Def Jam definitely did dude a favor. Keep doing your own thing and when the majors come sniffing around stick them for the type of percentage points that dwarf executive pay in the long run.

  • Incilin

    “For that reason, I think it’s great that Def Jam is giving him the pink slip. I think continuing to give people jobs who’ve continuously failed just shows the ineptitude of the major labels at the corporate level to bring in real executive talent who can truly run a record label from a dollars and cents standpoint.”

    ^^ Haha! Great point. Good post.

  • Pierzy

    Nice work. Just because someone is a good (great?) producer and can maybe even spot talent doesn’t mean that they can be an exec. It’s been proven that it’s an entirely different world…

    JD needs to go create a surprise hit album like “Mimi” and everyone will be checkin’ for him again.

  • Avenger XL

    DEF JAM is dead and it has been dead for a while now. They are dinosaurs from the golden age. But this is the last fall out of the whole publicity stutn where labels hired artists and producers with high profile to be executives. I mean I am all for someone living out their dream or furthering their position. But JD and Jigga had no business running anything besides the areas they are best i.e. Jigga= Artist and JD=producer. Jay-z is only good at positioning Jay-z to make more money look at the Roc. Like I always said Kanye was a accident he did not expect him to blow. Jigga was just trying to keep him happy so he could keep getting fire tracks and JD is good at working with youngsters and producing hip-pop hits. What does So So Def have signed that is worth two shits and one damn. The Answer is nothing folks. JD is just a producer and JAy-z is a clever emcee with a solid business mind but that don’t make you ceo material. So they were dumbasses for hiring him just for publicity in the first place but as you said it is great that he is gone now.

  • AZ

    Best post yet Gooch, keep up the good job! Lets see if JD got the balls to setup shop officially on the digital frontier. He should holla at Cisco Networks and plug into that new EOS platform, better than ending up at a Universal Republic repeating the same missteps again

  • amar

    hahahaha who the fuck is gonna say “so so deaf” in that annoying-ass jd voice now?

    truth be told, jd is one of the smartest people period. I’ve read some of his blogs for the huffington post and the man is full of great ideas and intentions. I hope he takes a little break from the operational side of music and uses some of his brainpower to cause some positive change in hip hop on a bigger level. I think he’s at the point in his career and life where he just might.

  • Reemycks!

    BRING BACK RICK RUBEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Nas need to get the F off of Not “Def” Anymore “Jam”

  • Vicious Seiger

    JD getting fired was mostly likely a good thing. He knows how to construct hits but as far as developing mainstay artists [Artist with a catalog of 3 albums or more] he sucks. He has a laundry list of one hit wonder acts and artists signed to imaginary deals [hmm.. Johnta Austin, Trina Broussard] and despite all of this you still can never count him out [ex. Emancipation of Mimi]. He needs to build a label again and really search for cornerstone artists that will shine brighter than his dismal past efforts. No one can deny he is more a go-to guy for pop music rather than street music and he needs to focus on this strong point. Maybe he needs to make some calls and do a compilation with all his friends [Alicia, Mariah, Janet, Jay, Puff, & Etc.] to jump start his resurge. This really punctuates the end of the major hip hop labels [Bad Boy, No Limit, Cash Money, So So Def, Death Row, Roc-A-Fella and now Def Jam]. The Music Business has changed and The Music Business still hasn’t figure this out.

  • geico lizard

    At the end of the day JD banged janet jackson for years so how many unemployed guys can say that?