“There aren’t a lot of labels that did it like this and [have the opportunity to] do it like this,” JD says when asked about the recent 25th anniversary campaign for his iconic So So Def imprint. “Any label that comes after this should want to be in the spotlight and move the way we moved … we set that tone.”
To complement the compilation album Jermaine Dupri Presents… So So Def 25, which dropped on June 25, JD revealed an upcoming tour called Cultural Curren$y. The concert series will feature some of the biggest names in the label’s history.
“Everybody is going on the tour … 10 artists of my own, that are So So Def … and they all platinum artists, by the way,” JD notes.
When asked by Clark about the moment he knew So So Def had its own identity, Dupri explained it was during the rollout of the So So Def Bass All-Stars compilation.
“It was the time when Atlanta and So So Def let the world know that we were molded together … we weren’t just a label in the town,” he says. “Where the culture was going and what the people [in Atlanta] wanted to listen to was what this label was about.”
He also discussed the project as it related to cultural currency, noting he didn’t realize the actual impact of the album until many years later.
“People still tell me that they used to listen to So So Bass All-Stars,” he says. “I didn’t realize that I was giving people the soundtracks to their lives.”
JD’s success was far from overnight, and as he broke it down to Clark, he had a rough time getting his first group, Xscape, to the plateau they all initially envisioned.
“They were accepted, but never they weren’t treated special … they were just singers,” he says, noting the particularly frustrating time he had getting them through the door.
“We never got to that level where we wanted to be … or maybe we did, but we were so focused on it not happening from the first album,” he adds, recalling that initial obstacles served as the catalyst to their ultimate success. “We just focused in on making the best music every time, to prove something to ourselves and hopefully others.”
When asked to choose his favorite So So Def album, he was quick to point his debut, 1999’s Life in 1472.
“It’s the first time that a producer had an opportunity to do all the records I did and break artists on a full compilation,” he quips. “People weren’t doing that at the time. That’s the one I had the most fun doing. They knew Jermaine Dupri the producer but not the artist, so there wasn’t any expectations.”
When asked what he envisions for the future of the label, the “Rap Game” host says, “[So So Def] is going to be to the kids what Def Jam was to me coming up.”
Check out the full episode of Soulful Sundays above.