Super producer Jermaine Dupri sat with Million Dollars Worth of Game co-hosts Wallo and Gillie Da Kid for a conversation about his music career journey, including earning respect in the music industry. Dupri spoke about one of the biggest records he produced, Kris Kross’ “Jump,” and how he almost checked legendary singer Babyface about it. The Atlanta-bred producer shared that the “Whip Appeal” crooner once gave little weight to his 1991 hit.
“I ran into Babyface, and this was before I had more success than Kriss Kross,” he started. “Babyface was like, ‘Yeah, you the guy with the lil’ jump record.’ I was like, I looked at him like, ‘Ni**a.’ He almost made me disrespect him. He said ‘lil’ jump record.’ And I was JD, cocky JD, you know what I mean? I was like, ‘What? Little?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, you know, it’s cool you did that one time, but how many times can you do that?'”
“At the time when he said that, I didn’t think about it,” he added. “I hadn’t thought about it yet, ‘Yeah how many times can I make Kross Kross? How many times can I do ‘Jump?’ And I remember I sat for like two hours, nothing else. I ain’t see, hear, nothing else for like two hours thinking about, ‘Oh damn. It don’t mean sh*t in this business if you can’t do it again, if I can’t keep moving the needle.”
Dupri then discovered that he wouldn’t dwell on present projects anymore, but what’s next for him. He also credited Babyface for humbling him as he’s passed similar information on to producers who’ve come after him.
“My focus ever since that day has always been like, ‘I did this, it’s time to move on,'” he continued. “Once it’s half-way close to it being a finished piece of project, or product, then I move into the next and that’s where I’m [mentally] at. So I don’t even get caught up in that. So when people be saying you humble, I don’t really even be in that space. I really be thinking about the next thing.”
Later in the interview, the 50-year-old spoke about the time he dated Janet Jackson and also revealed how he was able to make her his girlfriend. Debunking Gillie’s thoughts that their relationship kicked off through song production, Dupri declared it had nothing to do with the music.
“I was just on some like, ‘hang out.’ It wasn’t on no music sh*t,” he explained. “We got in an argument about me not producing her because she was around me watching everybody else get hit records. I never wanted her to think that, that was what the agenda was because so many people was saying that.”
“When Janet met me, she got picked up from the airport in a Continental T,” he added. “I’m just saying. It wasn’t never no situation where I wanted her to believe that I was trying to do this [produce her music] ’cause- nah it wasn’t that.”
After clarifying that he actually picked her up in a larger continental car, Dupri further pointed out that he respected Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam as Janet’s producers and explained that she “didn’t need” a Jermaine Durpri-produced record. However, he admitted that him not producing her did cause a minor riff in their relationship.
“It was like the CEO in me. If I seen ni**as that worked with her that was f**king up, it was hard for me not to say something,” he said. He added that when he would go to question something that wasn’t favorable for his girlfriend’s career, Janet’s rebuttal was “why the f**k you ain’t doing it?'”
Jermaine and Janet, dated for seven years before splitting in 2009. In Janet’s self-titled docuseries, she revealed that she and the So So Def boss broke up because of rumors of him stepping out on her. “I had heard he was cheating,” she said in the fourth part of the series.
Watch Jermaine Dupri speak about Babyface and dating Janet Jacket below.