Jermaine Dupri Speaks On His Departure From Def Jam

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ESSENCE.COM: What would you say was your biggest problem with the label?
DUPRI: It wasn’t giving me the open door that I thought it was going to. It wasn’t aggressive enough and it was a big letdown for me. I thought I was going to a place that understood the times we were in as a music business and how aggressive we needed to be with putting out new projects and records.

ESSENCE.COM: There’s hearsay that your brief tenure was plagued by meager sales and a lack of new talent which resulted in the label ousting you. Is that true?
DUPRI: Island [Def Jam Records] is going to say what makes them look good. They are not going to tell the truth and say, “He just stopped dealing with us on a daily basis.” If you don’t put out my records, that’s all I have as a person. I’m a record person, so if I give you a record and you don’t put it out, then basically you’re showing me that it’s really no business. I never got a chance to put the records out. I had Johnta Austin, Ninth Ward and Dondria. I read the blogs and I’m thinking, How can they say that I’m not putting out records when anyone who knows my track record knows I’m about making music? My biggest problem is that I’m still the youngest president to have this kind of success.

ESSENCE.COM: Although it’s been three months since you’ve spoken to L.A. Reid, would you be open to reconciliation?
DUPRI: I don’t know. I saw a side of him that I had never seen before and that to me was a jealous side. I don’t know if I should be around people who are jealous of me. Mariah Carey sold more records in that entire Def Jam building and all of that was through my singles; so I’m looking like the golden boy. I only started thinking about it after I left.

Full Interview