Business News Industry People Labels & Publishers Top Stories

Dupri hits out at LA Reid over his Island departure

By | Published on Thursday 15 January 2009

Jermaine Dupri has finally spoken about his abrupt departure from the role of president of Universal’s Island Records Urban label in the US.

Rumours that the producer and label chief was leaving the major, less than two years after moving there from EMI’s Virgin US, began circulating earlier this month and were seemingly true. His departure seems to have been the result of conflict between him and LA Reid, the boss of Universal’s Island Def Jam division.

Dupri has told US magazine Essence that his position at Universal became untenable after Reid essentially froze him out. Reid, you see, was jealous of Dupri. Or, at least, that’s what Dupri reckons.

Claiming he hadn’t spoken to Reid in three months, despite technically speaking reporting to him, Dupri said: “I saw a side of him [Reid] 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”.

Responding to rumours that Universal had become less keen on their mega-bucks relationship with Dupri because of disappointing sales of the albums he worked on, not least the most recent release by his good lady Janet Jackson, the producer added: “Island is going to say what makes them look good. They are not going to tell the truth”.

Expanding on his disdain for the Universal Music top guard, he explained Reid was one of the “old guys” trying to run a changing record industry by the old rules.

Dupri: “The music business thrives on young music, young ideas, newness and freshness. We have a bunch of old guys running all the record companies and they get in these meetings and argue with these young people like myself about what we know and try to make us believe that what we’re doing won’t work. I don’t see them beating the streets to find any of the artists… I never see these people out anywhere because they are still living off the old times”.

It’s still not clear what Dupri’s departure means for the distribution deal between Universal and his label So So Def, nor what it means for the TAG Records venture – a JV between the major and the makers of the US-based TAG body spray brand, which Dupri headed up.