Jermaine Dupri Wants to See if He Can Use All of His Brain [VIDEO]

November 14, 2015

12:02 pm

Jermaine Dupri started producing for hip-hop artists when he was a teenager and hit it big when he discovered Kris Kross in a shopping mall in Atlanta when he was 19. Since then he has worked with artists from Mariah Carey, to Weezer, to Lil Wayne.

So what is a music mogul like Dupri doing at a tech and entrepreneurship conference? Well, as it turns out, the two worlds aren’t as different as one would think. At’s Celebrate he sat down with Startup Grind founder Derek Andersen, and talked about his past, present, and future goals.

“I Had an Idea”

Andersen started out by asking Dupri about his thoughts on entrepreneurship and how he relates to tech entrepreneurs.

“I was going to people, telling them I wanted to put out artists. I had an idea. I wasn’t really from a place that was known to have hip hop music,” says Dupri. “I kept calling and saying I want to put out this artist or that artist, and people saying no, and people not really giving me that room to do what I needed to do.”

Eventually he made some money off of an artist and that was enough for him to roll it into another artist, and little by little his business grew. He got lucky a couple times, but he was not an instant success. Sounds like a typical startup story, eh?

“Build Your Own Audience”

“You should try to build your own audience, because that’s the biggest thing right now. If you got your own audience you can do what you want to do. You can go on tour, you can put out records that that audience will buy, and if you constantly keep giving them product and entertain that audience that you build, it will get bigger.”

It doesn’t have to be said (but I will anyway) that this is good advice for all entrepreneurs no matter what market you’re in.

New Venture Into Reality TV

Dupri let the crowd in on two tv shows that he’s currently working on. One for Lifetime and one for BET.

“The Lifetime show is about kids 9-15–six kids that move to Atlanta–and they come to Jermaine Dupri bootcamp. So they basically come to the studio and I’m going to brush them up on what they feel like they already have,” Dupri describes his latest venture. “The tech part of it is that they’re already on YouTube. So they got fans already. One of the kids already has like 50 shows this year. And one of the kids has a bodyguard, and he doesn’t even have a record out.”

When asked how he got into the TV thing all of a sudden, he admitted that it wasn’t really something he had set out to do, and in fact had no interest doing reality TV.

“I had been avoiding these reality shows for a long time, because I think that reality TV, to me, it just sucks after a while. But this fit because the last superstar hiphop kid was BowWow, he came from me, so it only made sense for me to do this,” says Dupri. ” So while I was in there saying yes I would do this show, somebody else that was in that building called and said ‘I heard Jermaine Dupri was in there,’ and the guy was like ‘yeah’ and he was like ‘we got another show for him upstairs.'”

What Are You Most Proud Of?

The 43-year-old started producing artists around the age of 15-16, so it’s safe to say he’s been around the block a few times.

“I wanted to make music that would last. Recently, I think this week, Mariah Carey is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her album Music Box,”  says Dupri. “And on this album, I don’t think people knew that I produced ‘Always be my Baby,’ well I know people didn’t know about it because I didn’t talk about the record and do the normal stuff that I do once people got to know who I was. But this week there was a thing that set in in me that said ‘you know you did make music that people are talking about like twenty years after you made it.”

You can watch the full chat with Jermaine Dupri here:

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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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