Roots rock: The two sides of Jermaine Dupri

Wonder if JD can DJ and update his blog simultaneously.
Wonder if JD can DJ and update his blog simultaneously.

What’s the difference between Jermaine Dupri the producer and Jermaine Dupri the DJ, and when did you learn to spin?

I started DJing first before I started producing. This is where the inspiration came from to get me making beats and wanting to be a producer … [DJing is] almost something I do now as hobby, for fun, to continue to keep the music fresh and me loving the music business.

How would you describe your Vegas set?

Usually, my set at Privé is all hip-hop for the most part. I like playing all the Vegas music and all the club shit that’s usually played in Vegas. I like going into that, because a lot of people don’t know that I know how to DJ that type of music as well. But for the most part, I’ve noticed that when I come on, the crowd is usually … waiting on me to bring that Southern hip-hop, that New York hip-hop—just hip-hop in general.

Do you play your own productions often?

People want to hear “Money Ain’t a Thang,” “Let’s Get Married,” “Sleeping in my Bed,” the list goes on and on. I started incorporating more Bow Wow records and old Brat records and whatever. Those come from requests, though. For the most part, that’s not usually in my set. I do play Ocean’s 7 music; whatever’s current that I have out I play.

In the Vegas megaclubs, it seems like there’s a lot less breaking new records and more recycled tracks. Why do you think many DJs keep playing the same songs?

The DJ of the 2000s wasn’t the “break music” DJ. The motto of the 2000s DJ has been just “create a set.” That’s pretty much everywhere. I think people like myself started DJing more and let people see I’ll play whatever because can’t nobody tell me what to do. I just think that these DJs that don’t really have names, they’re just trying to keep the attention of the crowd, and I think that’s hard enough for them. So playing new music will fuck their whole set up.

Last year, you said, “The DJ is dead.” Is there any chance of bringing them back to life?

That wasn’t talking about club DJs. What I grew up knowing what a DJ was is not what a DJ is today … On the radio, they call people that talk “DJs.” Those guys are not DJs. They are radio personalities. They’re not DJs. They don’t touch turntables. They don’t put on one record … The people that I thought was responsible for breaking music? They definitely wasn’t doing it. They definitely weren’t trying to open the door for new music … “So who’s the DJ now?” That’s what I was basically asking. It was more of an executive thing from a record company standpoint of me asking, “Who was gonna break my music?”

Who do you think breaks the music now?

The fans are dictating the breakage of new music … All the new music that’s coming out that’s hot, it’s coming from independent artists, and the fans want to hear this independent music. Take for instance Drake. Drake is an independent artist, and the people want to hear his records.

You and Ocean’s 7 (Dupri, Nelly, Usher, Bryan-Michael Cox, Trey Songz, Johnta Austin and Tyrone Davis) just came out with the track “Vegas Baby.” What’s so great about this town?

What’s great about Vegas? What ain’t great about Vegas? It’s damn near everything that you could possibly do all in one place … It’s always been said that people go to Vegas when their careers are over … But when the Palms was built, when the Maloofs came, you could feel the synergy start to turn into younger people getting ready to take over Vegas … Now, Vegas is a place that if you really want to have a good time—and we’re about having a good time—[Vegas is] the place you’re supposed to be at.

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