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Jermaine Dupri Talks Finding Next Big Star on Lifetime’s The Rap Game


ABC RadioJermaine Dupri is pouring his energy into creating the next big rap star on his Lifetime reality show, The Rap Game, on which aspiring artists compete for a record contract with his So So Def Recordings label. After having worked with young talent including Bow Wow, Kris Kross, TLC and Da Brat, the mega-producer tells ABC Radio what made him want to get involved with the series.

“I guess my history put me in the mix of this show, you know, just the history of Kris Kross, and what I did bringing Bow Wow out, and I guess every artist that’s ever been on So So Def has been young, youthful, so, you know, it was only a perfect fit for So So Def to be the label that these kids are trying to get on,” he says referring to contestants Lil’ Niqo, Lil’ Poopy, Miss Mulatto, Supa Peach, and Young Lyric, all of whom have enjoyed an online following and relative success.

The hitmaker reveals that the biggest learning curve for the contestants is separating Internet success from industry success.

“It’s definitely changed now because of the Internet. The Internet not makes these kids work as hard I believe, because once you start getting ten thousand, twenty thousand likes you start believing that’s a real approval of you going in the right direction,” JD says. “It is, but it’s a slight off-sense of approval, it’s not the one hundred percent guaranteed word that you need to move forward. “

Dupri points out that unlike American Idol and The Voice, The Rap Game focuses on artists’ development and captures all the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to mold a superstar. When it comes to the time constraints, though, the producer explains why he has to work twice as fast to get the the aspiring artists up to speed.

“I had to trim this down into eight weeks. Usually I have artists for a whole year or two years, like when I got Bow Wow, he was around me for two years prior to him coming out,” JD says. “In eight weeks, I got all that I can get out for these kids and decided which one of these artists is really up to par to put on my label and put my name behind it, so I couldn’t really cut no corners.”

He continues, “I got to really be the Jermaine Dupri that you would get if you had me for two years.” 

The Rap Game airs on Lifetime Fridays at 10 p.m.

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