Jermaine Dupri will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of his So So Def record label at a performance in Atlanta next month, so what better time to highlight the output of one of the most successful companies in hip-hop history than a trip down memory lane? From Xscape to Jagged Edge, J-Kwon to Dem Franchize Boyz, the So So Def label has been churning out hits since the label's inception in 1993. While Dupri's production never had the distinctive, easily-branded qualities of super-producers like The Neptunes, his mercenary ability to adapt to changing musical trends gave him longevity that most in the music business have struggled to match.
As a result, Dupri has been underrated as a producer, businessman, and an A&R. Despite working behind chart-topping smashes, it seems like he doesn't have the same respected pedigree of other producer-auteurs. Dupri hasn't been an innovator in the traditional sense; instead, he understands talent, feels the way the winds are blowing, and knows how to combine those skills to drop hits.
Ironically, his earliest successes weren't on his own label. Although Kris Kross will be performing at the anniversary show in February, they were signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia, the duo was never signed to So So Def Records, and so are absent from this list. Also missing is much of the work Dupri did as an outside collaborator; records for Mariah Carey or Monica, for example, were released on other labels.
This list combines official So So Def remixes and singles released by his label, making it the consummate compilation of the business savvy and musical sensibilities of Jermaine Dupri.
Written by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)