COMPLEX MUSIC: Jermaine Dupri Talks “New Atlanta,” Jagged Edge Comeback, and Receiving the ASCAP Founders Award

BY  | JUN 25, 2014 | 12:46 PM |

Interview: Jermaine Dupri Talks "New Atlanta," Jagged Edge Comeback, and Receiving the ASCAP Founders AwardImage via The Chamber Group

Jermaine Dupri is gearing up for a hot summer. The So So Def founder already released “New Atlanta,” a remake of his 2002 hit with Atlanta’s current rising stars: Rich Homie Quan, Migos, and Young Thug. And while we’ll always be nostalgic for the So So Def days, Dupri is genuinely trying to revive the feeling later this year with Jagged Edge’s long awaited sequel to J. E. Heartbreak.

After an incredible showing at the So So Def 20th Anniversary Show last year, Dupri realized it was time to get back in the studio and once again put on the A. This kind of determination has led him to be this year’s recipient of the ASCAP Founders Award. We spoke to him about the upcoming awards, putting “New Atlanta” together, and what’s coming up with Jagged Edge.

Interview by Lauren Nostro (@LAURENcynthia)

First things first, you’re this year’s ASCAP Founders Award winner. What was your immediate reaction when you heard?
I’ve always wanted to be mentioned in the same sentence or at the same time that you say Quincy Jones or you say Stevie Wonder. I never thought that could possibly ever happen. So this probably is one of my most humbling awards because it’s something I wanted but I never really thought could ever actually happen. I never even thought that I could ever actually get to become successful in time to be mentioned with these people. It’s really the most humbling part, especially because I’ve been going to ASCAP all my life, right? And basically since I’ve been a producer and just watching other people get this award, it’s something you just sit there and you’re like, “I wish one day I could do enough to get through to this level.”

Have you planned out your acceptance speech yet?
It’s funny because last year I did the segment that I think Ne-Yo is getting this year. I did that for Usher. I watched Dr. Dre actually get this award last year. And I watched his preparation, him preparing for it, and his preparation for this award must not have been much of nothing. He came and he wasn’t really dressed up, this time I’m getting a suit tailored and all of this other stuff. I’m trying to make sure I look extremely elegant for this particular night.

That’s about it, just making sure my clothes look right. But I was also thinking, “Man, I shouldn’t put all of this into it, just put a T-shirt on and wear some jeans,” you know? Dre ain’t get fancy for it, same award. But just making sure the clothes are right and also that I enjoy the night.

Rich Homie Quan actually told me in that session that he used to call up So So Def everyday to try to get somebody to sign him. So these are kids that grew up listening to So So Def.

Well, good luck with your outfit. Let’s talk about the “New Atlanta” remix we premiered with Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and Migos. How did it come together?
I’m the so-claimed mayor of Atlanta, so it’s like you can’t… First of all that’s my beat by the way, so they couldn’t use my beat and not let me get that little piece on there. I think it was the Migos idea though and they always told me that they looked up to what I was doing. Rich Homie Quan actually told me in that session that he used to call up So So Def everyday to try to get somebody to sign him. So these are kids that grew up listening to So So Def and grew up wanting to be a part of So So Def. So me jumping on there and giving them that string to be like “Let’s go” was just… I felt like it was the thing to do.

And it’s the Atlanta way. We don’t beef out here about young new artists trying to get in. Not me anyway. I don’t beef with you ‘cause I always want to make sure that my city is still bigger and better than every other city out there. So if it’s going to help Atlanta for me to jump on a record with all these new Atlanta artists and put them in a different light and make people pay attention to them that they might not pay attention to, I’m definitely going to do that.

What’s one thing that you saw in each of the artists—Migos, Rich Homie and Thug—that you really feel separates them from others in the game right now?
They’re different, period. They’re not really from no hood in Atlanta. Rich Homie, from what I know, I’m hearing that they’re from the Northside I know the Migos is definitely from the Northside. I heard Rich Homie Quan talks about East Atlanta in some of his records, which is Decatur. Then Young Thug talks about Bankhead. But for the most part, this is a North Side movement happening with these new kids. Like this OG Bobby Johnson kid is from the Northside and I think K Camp is from the Northside. It’s just a new side of town that’s actually getting their jumpoff.

You know I’m from College Park, which is all Southside, and that’s where 2 Chainz, Ludacris, myself and basically everybody that you saw before came from. And then you got Outkast and them, they came from the Westside. One of these sides is going to crack open and get going and I think the Northside just got going with one and then the next one came and then the next one came. So you got a bunch of them right now. That’s what it is.

Back when you did the original “Welcome to Atlanta,” there was the “Coast 2 Coast” remix with Diddy, Murphy Lee, Snoop Dogg and Ludacris. If you had to pick one person from each of those cities now to be on a new remix to “New Atlanta,” who would you chose?
I would put YG on the West Coast version. New York, I would probably put French Montana on there. It’s a toss up between French and—you know, I like Troy Ave, I’m an A$AP Rocky fan, I like the way he flows and things. A lot of people discredit his work because he sounds like a Southern rapper, but he’s from Harlem so I would put either [Rocky] or French on there. It would be a game making decision. From St. Louis is a kid named Fresco Kane that I signed, so I believe Fresco will represent that piece of that city.

Lastly, let’s talk about the Jagged Edge reunion.
I haven’t produced them in a long time and J.E. Heartbreak was a while go. The crazy thing about a sequel album is that you don’t really realize how much people actually like the record. Like I didn’t really realize how much people liked that album until you start talking about a number two. When you start talking about a number two album that’s when people start really showing their love for the album. But in the midst of that album, I don’t really remember feeling like it was getting so much attention that we should’ve done a number two.

The crazy thing about a sequel album is that you don’t really realize how much people actually like the record. Like I didn’t really realize how much people liked that album until you start talking about a number two.

Matter of fact, I don’t think it got that much attention, enough attention when it was out, to garnish going back in and doing part two. Because I know I would’ve paid attention to it and I would’ve did it. So, now the state of R&B, where it’s at right now, it’s definitely needed. It’s definitely a must that we do it and it’s a must that we try to make the best sequel to that album that we can.

Is the dynamic in the studio now just like it was the last time you guys were all together or has a lot changed? 
Our chemistry has never changed. We haven’t ever been away from each other. This whole idea came to life when we did the So So Def 20th anniversary and I saw the response of people reacting to me doing that concert and that whole thing. That’s where this whole baby was conceived. To do part two. It just took a little minute to get the deal right, but for the most part that’s where we started talking about doing a new album, we have to do J.E. Heartbreak Part Two.

We know people want us to come out with some of the best R&B music that we could possibly give you. So therefore the energy is way different than when we first went in because we didn’t know if y’all was gonna like it. Now we know what you like, now we know we have to make something that tops what you like, or fits along in the same lines of what you already like. So the energy is definitely different, and it’s more energy, it’s more excitement, it’s more of the general rush because the blood is boiling. Like you know you got to make killer ballads and you know we got to make killer up tempos and we’re in there slaving every day.

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LeBron James to opt out, agent tells Heat

LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul has informed the Miami Heat that the four-time NBA MVP will exercise his early termination option and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Opting out does not mean that James has decided to leave the Heat, sources said.

James had until June 30 to decide whether to opt out of the final two years of his contract with Miami. He was scheduled to make $20 million next season and had two years and about $42.7 million remaining on his deal.

“I was informed this morning of his intentions. We fully expected LeBron to opt out and exercise his free-agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and, when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options.

“The last four seasons have been historic, and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami Heat to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together. At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the draft and free agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA championships.”

After Miami’s season-ending loss to the San Antonio Spursin Game 5 of the NBA Finals, James told reporters he would take a vacation with his family before considering his contract options.

James indicated that he welcomed the opportunity to become a free agent and have the same level of flexibility he was afforded in 2010, when he signed with Miami after spending his first seven years in Cleveland.

“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” James said last week. “That’s in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. … There’s a lot of times that you’re not in control of your future as a professional.”

In his four seasons in Miami, the Heat have gone to the NBA Finals four times, winning two championships. James could join Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in league history to lead the NBA Finals in total points scored and then play for a different team to start the following season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. O’Neal played for the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers, who lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, and was traded to the Heat in the offseason.

If James departs, he would be leaving a historic opportunity on the table. Only one team in NBA history has appeared in at least five consecutive NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics, who reached 10 straight from 1957 to 1966.

With James and Carmelo Anthony officially opting out of their contracts, multiple teams — including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Lakers — have begun the process of exploring roster moves that would create sufficient salary-cap space to sign 2014’s marquee free agents in tandem, sources close to the situation told

Meanwhile, the other two Miami stars with early termination options — Wade and Bosh — have not yet told the Heat or publicly revealed whether they will join James as free agents this summer.

“No news here yet,” Wade said Tuesday.

Bosh and James both said last week that the three would meet before deciding anything about their respective futures, and it has been widely speculated that they might have to rework their deals to keep the Big Three together in Miami.

Each signed six-year deals when they famously teamed up in Miami in 2010, and those deals came with options to become free agents either this summer or in the summer of 2015. Together, they have won four Eastern Conference titles and two NBA championships, winning more games than any other team in the league over that span.

“There’s a conversation that will be had between the three of us,” James said last week. “I think it’s only right. I think we’ve earned that for each other, to have a conversation and see what could possibly happen.”

News of James opting out Tuesday also affected Las Vegas, where several sports books, including the Wynn, took the drastic measure of pulling all future odds on all NBA teams to win next year’s title.

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