JERMAINE DUPRI ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF SO SO DEF AND HIS FAVE ATL HOTSPOTS
compiled by Gerren Keith Gaynor
As the brainchild behind some of the most successful musical acts of the past two decades–from Kriss Kross and Xscape to Bow Wow and Jagged Edge–Jermaine Dupri has earned the right to toot his horn. The music industry mogul’s label, So So Def Records, marks its 20th anniversary in 2013, and will celebrate the milestone on February 23 with an Atlanta concert featuring some of its biggest acts, both old and new. “I feel accomplished,” Durpri tells VIBE. “Like I finally crossed the finish line.” Dupri says the idea to host the concert stems from the death of his friend and fellow industry titan Chris Lighty. “I had just spoken to him weeks before he passed,” he says. “That was an eerie experience. We can’t think that we’re going to be here forever.” Among many highlights from his storied career, Dupri says one of his proudest moments was the production of Usher’s 2004 album, “Confessions,” which has sold 10 million copies to date and become a modern R&B classic. Though So So Def has dominated the charts over the years, Dupri isn’t relaxing just yet. Instead, he’s pushing the label’s new generation of artists, like the talented 26-year-old Leah LaBelle, to carry the torch. In celebration of the label’s hometown, Dupri shared a few of his top Atlanta hotspots, from his favorite vegan restaurant to a certain infamous strip club. Take a look.
“Soul Vegetarian is one of my favorite spots in Atlanta now that I’m a vegan. It’s probably the spot I would take people that would change the way they feel about vegetarian or vegan food. They have this built-in mindset about what we eat, but this place is soul food; cornbread, mac-and-cheese, candied yams, greens. I take a lot of non-vegan people here and they almost become converted.”
100 percent vegan with a soulful twist. If you’re a vegan skeptic, this anti-meat southern restaurant is probably your best bet at breaking the ice. Though you won’t see any fried chicken on its menu, you still get a taste of soul food favorites like mac-and-cheese, greens, and cornbread. Don’t think of it as the cup half empty, because you’ll certainly leave pleased and full.
“It’s hard to find somewhere to go now that I don’t eat meat but I go to this placed called Tuk Tuk. It’s kind of like Chinese food but not completely.”
Rated as one of Atlanta’s best thai cuisine. Ran by Chef Dee Dee Niyomkul, daughter of Nan’s Thai & Tamarind Seed owners, Tuk Tuk serves up an impressive menu of gourmet thai with original recipes like that tastes authentically like it’s straight from street vendors in Bangkok. The decor is sleek and modern with an impeccable skyline view on its patio.
“I buy Polo in Atlanta because the Polo is a lot different here. We get a lot of stuff other cities don’t. I’ve been collecting Polo for so long.”
Ralph Lauren is a fashion empire, with followers flocking here for all their upscale city and casual country-inspired schmatta. This icon has gotten used to dressing the American aristocracy in traditional silhouettes and neutral colors for a conservative evening out, or a casual afternoon-polo skills not required. This store is everything Ralph Lauren promises to be-plaids, riding pants, and classic rugged beauty. That and little sexy surprises for both the women’s and men’s collection.
“Magic City is like home for me. It’s still like a club when I go there. I go behind the bar and get my own drinks and everything. It’s my spot.”
The performers work some serious dancing magic every night they step into this club. After 9 p.m. the admission never surpasses $20, and if you’re a part of a famous celeb’s entourage you’ll probably get in free. Snack on their famous wings while you sit in huge comfy red-and-black couches and enjoy a visual show. You’ll be left with no money after you leave, so be sure to enjoy yourself while it lasts.
“When I go out I like going to Halo Lounge. They call it Click on Tuesdays.”
Ultra-plush lounge with striking décor and genius lighting that provides that freshfrom-a-facial glow. Stays low-key during the work week but gets a bit more frenzied on Friday and Saturday nights. Expect a primped and preened weekend pack. True VIPs head to the basement level bar. Others nosh on truffled mac-n-cheese or a veal meatloaf sandwich with shiitake mushroom gravy.
“Occasionally on a Saturday night I hit up Compound.”
The wait to get into this club is well worth your sanity. Enter an indoor and outdoor oasis where you can relax on plush, purple couches, show off your best moves on the spacious dance floor, or sit by the small pool and whisper sweet nothings to the object of your desire. Diddy, Tyga and host of other musicians and athletes to mix, mingle, and vibe out to the great music alongside Atlanta’s most beautiful women.