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Jermaine Dupri On The Real Story Behind Turning Kris Kross Into Stars
Jermaine Dupri, along with a stellar crew of friends and label-mates, visited the GRAMMY Museum on Sept. 20 for an exclusive conversation looking back on and celebrating the impact of 25 years of his record label, So So Def Recordings. We learned a lot about how Dupri's vision and focus allowed him to turn so many different artists into stars over the years, and in the case of Kris Kross, how he saw the rap stars in them before they ever did.
Dupri clearly has an eye for talent and how to best showcase it. While most people have likely heard some version of the story that he discovered young teens Kris Kross at the mall and turned them into rap stars with their hit debut single "Jump," the details of how all of it happened and what it took to get there are often left out.
In conversation with the museum's Artistic Director Scott Goldman, Dupri shares how much more in-depth the story really is, and that the young boys weren't trying to be rappers when they first met, so he really had to get to know them to shape them into the stars he knew they were. This personalized process became how he worked with all future So So Def artists, and played a huge part in the label's – and each artist's – success. Kris Kross was So So Def's first artist and first success story, and they paved the way for Dupri's continued excellence.
"You gotta understand people out there, Kris Kross weren't rappers. They weren't kids walking around with demos. They weren't trying to be rappers. They weren't trying to be singers. When I met them I said, 'What do y'all do?'" Dupri explains. "'We just cool.' I was like, 'Damn. Get these guys a record fast.'"
The conversation with Jermaine Dupri and Friends kicked off of the opening of the GRAMMY Museum's newest exhibit, Jermaine Dupri & So So Def: 25 Years of Elevating Culture, which will be on view until Jan. 2019.