Recently ousted president of Island Records Urban Music Jermaine Dupri spoke to Essence magazine about his split with Def Jam and his relationship with chairman Antonio "LA" Reid.
"It was a situation where it felt very stagnant to me," said Dupri of his position at Def Jam. "As a person who is used to putting out new records and continuing to do that, it just wasn't turning over as being that place to me where I should stick to it and see if it was going to turn around."
The producer, who has churned out hits for Mariah Carey, Usher, Janet Jackson and countless other acts says that Def Jam wasn't aggressive enough in putting out new projects. He denied that he was fired due to lack of sales, and instead due to others' envy of his success. "I'm dealing with a lot of jealousy and have been since I first came in the business. When you're younger they don't want to listen to you because they know you are keener and people listen to the younger person in the office. In corporate America, this is something that I started feeling a lot. I'm keener as to what is going on in the streets, the Internet and all over the place."
As for his relationship with the label, Dupri didn't have many positive things to say. "I haven’t spoken to L.A. [Reid] in three months. I don’t know if it’s amicable [considering] that they claim they put me out. I feel like it’s not amicable. Don’t lie, be real about the situation. It goes back to their having the attitude of let’s try and do something that’s going to hurt this person, because if it hurts us we have nowhere to go after this, but he does and has at least another 20 more years in this business. Again, if L.A. [Reid] gets fired, there will be at least another ten people who will also get fired and we’ll never see them again. Def Jam is like one big clique."
Asked whether or not he and Def Jam could reconcile, JD responded, "I don’t know. I saw a side of him that I had never seen before and that to me was a jealous side. I don’t know if I should be around people who are jealous of me. Mariah Carey sold more records in that entire Def Jam building and all of that was through my singles; so I’m looking like the golden boy. I only started thinking about it after I left."