July 11, 2019
Last year R&B and hip-hop hitmaker Jermaine Dupri was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Atlanta-based label, So So Def. Now the music mogul — who has worked behind the scenes with such A-list artists as Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson and Alicia Keys — is getting his close-up in “Power, Influence and Hip-Hop: The Remarkable Rise of So So Def,” a documentary premiering on WE tv on Thursday.
How Jermaine Dupri made stars of Alicia Keys, Kris Kross and more
Here, Dupri, 46, tells The Post the stories behind some of his most memorable songs.

Mariah Carey, “Always Be My Baby” (1995)

“That was at a time when she was married [to former Sony Music head Tommy Mottola], and her studio hours were noon to 6. I was a night owl, so I had to get used to that. So I wasn’t really sure [during] that whole process if I was making the right record.
I actually thought I blew it. Michelle Obama said that’s one of her favorite records that she keeps on her iTunes playlist. It’s pretty amazing that people feel like that.”

Kris Kross
, “Jump” (1992)

“That was my first No. 1. I found Kris Kross in the mall walking around, and I approached them. They didn’t want to be rappers. But I got them into the mindset of where I was at. I paid attention to what was happening around the world of clubs, and when I would go out, people were jumping . . . It was a part of the culture when the music came on.”

Usher “Nice & Slow” (1997)

“I wrote Usher’s lyrics like a rap, and I made him sing it with the flow of a rapper. When I made that song, I hadn’t heard anybody else in R&B sing like that. And I feel like that was the beginning of the way you hear R&B singers [sing] today.”

Jermaine Dupri feat. Jay-Z, “Money Ain’t a Thang” (1998)
How Jermaine Dupri made stars of Alicia Keys, Kris Kross and more
“[Jay and I] first met in Harlem, and I was like, ‘Yo, I wanna do a song with you. I’ma fly you to Atlanta.’ He came to Atlanta, and on the way to the airport I was listening to [Jay’s] ‘Can’t Knock the Hustle,’ and in the song he says ‘money ain’t a thang.’ Soon as he got in the car, I was like, ‘I want to do a song like this.’ And by the time we got to my house, he had his verse and the rest of the hook written.”

Usher & Alicia Keys, “My Boo” (2004)

“The first time people ever heard Alicia Keys was on my Christmas album [1996’s ‘Jermaine Dupri Presents 12 Soulful Nights of Christmas’], and I produced ‘Girlfriend’ on her first album [2001’s ‘Songs in A Minor’], so she and I had a relationship. But I think Usher’s first idea [for his duet partner] on the song was Beyoncé. Then Alicia’s name came up, and it was perfect.”

Monica, “The First Night” (1998)

“We’re from the same neighborhood: College Park in Atlanta. The first time we were in the studio, I didn’t know what to expect, but we created ‘The First Night.’ I felt a certain magic with her. She’s a very colorful person and she has a lot of ideas. If you give me stuff to feed off of, it helps my songwriting that much more.”

Nelly, “Grillz” (2005)

“Nelly became one of my homeboys, my friend outside of music. After [Mariah Carey’s Dupri-produced smash] ‘We Belong Together’ came out, Nelly called me like, ‘Yo, you on a roll. I need one of them No. 1 records. I’m coming to Atlanta tomorrow and we gon’ make one.’ And we made ‘Grillz,’ another No. 1.”


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