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Jermaine Dupri talks about Working With Mariah Carey, Usher, Jay Z, Alicia Keys and more …

Photo credit: The Estelle Show on Apple Music Hits

BREAKING VIDEOS TO WATCH

Jermaine Dupri Talks To Apple Music About Working With Mariah Carey on “We Belong Together” Which Became a Song Of The Decade….

 

When we did “We Belong Together,” this song became Song of the Decade, but prior to it becoming Song of the Decade, I had to tell Mariah, “You got to hit that note at the end.” People want to hear Mariah Carey do the note. You hit that note, then we good. And I remember the demo didn’t have her doing it because we was just cutting the song in studio. And if I’m not mistaken, LA [Reid] definitely said, “If she hits the note at the end, this song is a rocket.”

  

Jermaine Dupri Tells Apple Music About Working With Mariah Carey On “Always Be My Baby” And Why He Didn’t Think It Was A Hit…

 

Let me tell you why I didn’t think it was a hit because I come from an era where if the first single is pick and it’s your song, then that’s considered a hit record, right? This wasn’t the first single, this wasn’t the second single, this was the third single. So when I didn’t get the first single and I didn’t get the second single, I was like, “Oh, damn. I blew it.” And that was my first time working with Mariah who was huge, and I’m like, “Man, I blew my chance with Mariah Carey.” This was my opportunity to solidify myself as a producer that I want to be and I messed up working with an artist that is already established. It was a third single, so I thought third singles don’t ever get the money from the labels, third singles don’t get videos, third singles don’t get support or anything. So I just thought I blew it. So I definitely didn’t think that “Always Be My Baby” was going to be the record that it turned out to be.

 

Jermaine Dupri Talks To Apple Music About Working With Usher On “You Make Me Want To” and How Usher Didn’t Like The Song At First…

 

Estelle: Because we’ve been talking about hits and knowing hits, and it is important to speak to people who actually have hits about hits, right? Now, this first one, it’s an Usher record. Usher said he didn’t know it was a hit. But I want you to tell me if you knew it was a hit. “You Make Me Want To.”

 

Jermaine Dupri: A hit? I didn’t know. Did I love it? Of course, 100%. Well, people have to understand about ‘My Way’ was ‘My Way’ was the first solo R&B album that I ever did. So I didn’t know what I was doing. I was praying that I didn’t mess it up. So “You Make Me Want To” was all just me freestyling. I felt like R&B was not cool enough for me. I had to make Usher fit in between, if you like rap, then you’re going to like this R&B, if you don’t like the way R&B is, at least this R&B should catch your ear. That’s what I was focused on. The records that we were listening to Influence ‘My Way’ were all rap records was no R&B music. We weren’t listening to other R&B records like, “Yo, we should do this.” We was listening to rap records saying we should do that. That’s why ‘they called me, U-S-H-E-R.’ We was listening to Po Pimp and we was listening to Twista, even making a ballad, that’s what I was listening to. And I wasn’t thinking about Babyface, I wasn’t into that, I wasn’t even in that space making those records. I mean, that’s basically my mindset. Anyway, I’m such a hip-hop person. I come from hip-hop, so when I make R&B records, I’m going into it knowing that you got to have strange chords and this type of stuff, but the backbeat of all my records is always hip hop. Usher didn’t like “You Make Me Want To,” let’s be clear on this. He didn’t like the song. So I knew it was different, because he didn’t jump to it and Usher is younger than me. So I was like, “Oh man, it’s crazy. I thought I made a younger-sounding record.” I think the fact that it didn’t sound like the typical R&B record is what turned him away because he thought we should be making more R&B-sounding records. And it didn’t sound like an R&B record initially.

 

Jermaine Dupri Talks To Apple Music About Working With Jay Z For The Song “Fallin”…

 

I went in the studio with Hova, he was in the studio. I walked in the room. It was a bunch of producers in the room. This night was actually a magical night because this was the night that I introduced Jay-Z and No I.D. Because I took No I.D. With me to the studio. Jay-Z has all of these people in the room. He’s got all these different producers, they all in different corners. I had my MP, No I.D. had his computer and he got in a corner, I want to say DJ Toomp was there, that’s when they did the “Say Hello To The Bad Guy.” That’s also me on that record saying, “Say hello.” That’s me saying that part. Green Lantern was in the room. It was a whole bunch of producers in the room and everybody making beats, I’ve never actually even been in this type of environment where it’s like… So it just felt like everybody was just trying to get Jay’s attention. He needed records that he didn’t have for ‘American Gangster.’ I think we watched majority of the movie and after the movie went off, I kept saying, “Well, where’s the song about him losing it all?” It’s inevitable and it’s inevitable for every drug dealer, this is the story of every drug dealer. They all getting a lot of money, they all fly, they all du-du-dun, it’s coming down, right? It’s crazy because that’s a word that I used in the hook. I kept saying that, “It’s inevitable.” Guru’s like, no, we don’t have an ending record. We don’t have a record that talks about it being over. So then I start looking for samples. I typed in Fallin’ and all of these records just start coming up and I start listening to all the records. I’m listening to the records and I’m like, “What? This is saying, ‘Fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’, fallin’.'” I’m like, “Oh my God, this has got it.” So I sampled it real quick and then I found all the rest of the parts.

I’m doing all this in my headphones while they couldn’t hear nothing was going on. I got all my headphones, I’m doing this. And I start writing the hook in my head and I’m like, “Guru, track this. I’m go ahead and I’m do it.” I went in there, I did the hook. “I know shouldn’t have did that. I know it’s going to come right back.” I sing the hook. Hova came back in the room and he was like, “Oh.” And I’m like, “Yeah. It’s called ‘Fallin’.’” And he went right in the booth like no preparation. And I’m like, “Oh, he must’ve been thinking about this.” And he started doing his part and it was just like…

 

Jermaine Dupri Talks To Apple Music About Working With Alicia Keys on “Girlfriend”…

 

Alicia actually really should have been a So So Def artist because my dad signed Alicia to Columbia Records first. Her first record deal was through my father. Her first release to the World was on So So Def Christmas album. She and I had always been talking about what we was going to do. I always wanted to incorporate what Alicia was in her music as opposed to what people saw because people saw a female version of Stevie Wonder or whatever they saw she could play, and whatever, the braids. But I’m like, “She’s from Hell’s Kitchen and she’s so New York and she’s walks around with Timberlands and she’s just like a b-girl.” When we got in the studio, she was just like, we got to do something hard. And I’m like, “Yeah, we do. We got to do something that really embodies who you are.” The Brooklyn Zoo just had that grid on it. It was just a perfect marriage. So we put it in there and I remember the first time we did it wasn’t as rugged as we made it. We start putting, “What? What? What?” She wanted all that. It was like, let’s go. Let’s take it all away. And she was so hip hop. To me, that was the song for that album, anyway, that let people know this really who Alicia is.

 

Jermaine Dupri Tells Apple Music About How “Da B Side” by  Da Brat and Notorious B.I.G. Was An Accidental Record….

Estelle: You find a way to get into hip hop in a way that to cross-pollinate hip hop coast to coast genre to artists in any scenario. One of my favorites and another one growing up for me was “Da B Side” with Biggie and the Brat. Tell me the story of that.

 

Jermaine Dupri: Another accidental record. Because Biggie was at my house to do “Big Poppa” remix, so we did “Big Poppa” remix and we redid the vocals on “Big Poppa” remix and I redid the entire track of “Big Poppa.” When he came and rerecord the song, he was like, “Where Honey at?” And he used to call Brat, Honey. And I’m like, “What?” And he was like, “Where Honey at?” And I’m like, “She upstairs,” because Brat stayed with me since she was upstairs at my mother’s house. And he’s like, “Tell her come down here and let’s do a song.” When he said that I had to go try to cook up a beat real quick. I knew I wanted to make something that had a little bit more dance to it that wasn’t so grooved out. I got the beat and I’m like, “Let’s do this.” As soon I seen Biggie. “Yeah, I’m [inaudible 00:28:55] with this.” I’m like, “Okay, all right, we good.” So then Brat came, it just… And then just the idea of it was just like it’s going to be a B Side record, but it’s also Brat and Biggie, so it’s like Da B Side. You know what I mean? So it just made sense to just call it that. It was very accidental. Nobody knew that was going to happen.