Discovered the rap duo Kris Kross at an Atlanta mall in 1991
He started out at age 12 as a dancer in hip-hop group Whodini
After discovering rap duo Kris Kross at an Atlanta mall in 1991, then-19-year-old producer Jermaine Dupri helped write their massive single “Jump,” and “Warm It Up,” which he wrote by himself—with both songs appearing on their 1992 multi-platinum album Totally Krossed Out. Since then, he has established his So So Def Recordings record label (its roster has included Kris Kross, Bow Wow, TLC and Usher) and contributed to songs recorded by Lil’ Kim (“Not Tonight”), Xscape (“Just Kickin’ It”), Da Brat (“Funkdified”), Destiny’s Child (“With Me,” on which he was also featured), Bow Wow (“Let Me Hold You”) and most notably, Usher (“You Make Me Wanna,” “Nice & Slow,” “My Way,” “Burn,” “Confessions Part II” and "My Boo”) and Mariah Carey (“Always Be My Baby” and the smash hit “We Belong Together).”
Dupri had actually started out at age 12 as a dancer in hip-hop group Whodini and performed with other artists including Herbie Hancock and Run-D.M.C. before becoming a producer in 1990 and forming Kris Kross the following year. But he has also successfully launched himself as a hip-hop artist in his own right, as well as producer, songwriter, author and record company CEO, along the way earning a Grammy for Best R&B song (“We Belong Together” in 2006), the ASCAP Golden Note Award for composers and songwriters who have achieved extraordinary milestones, and the first Billboard Otis Redding Excellence Award for his achievements both inside and outside the studio.
Besides his work in the ‘90s on huge albums by the likes of TLC (CrazySexyCool), Usher (My Way) and Carey (Daydream), Dupri (under the name JD) released his debut solo album Life in 1472 in 1998, with Instructions following in 2001. He went on to co-write and co-produce three singles for Usher’s diamond-certified album Confessions in 2004, co-wrote and co-produced Mariah Carey’s 2005 monster hit “We Belong Together” from The Emancipation of Mimi, and in 2007 published his memoir Young, Rich and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul and co-wrote and co-produced songs on Jay-Z’s 2007 album American Gangster.
In 2011, Dupri launched Global 14 as both a social network and his and So So Def Recordings’ official website. It consists of over 1,100 groups that share common interests including fashion, hip-hop, and R&B. In 2015, he and Queen Latifah created the reality TV series The Rap Game for the Lifetime channel, in which five young artists were advised by the likes of Dupri, Usher and Ludacris on the workings of the music industry.
Dupri has spoken at events like the Forrester Research Interactive Marketing Summit, Portada Latin American Advertising and Media Summit, and Social Media Week. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.