Jermaine Dupri is a hip-hop and R&B hitmaker. His songs have sold millions of copies, topped music charts throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and helped launch the careers of Kriss Kross, Usher, Mariah Carey and many others. Now, the 30-year music veteran has been inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame. Dupri is only the second hip-hop artist to be so honored. (Jay-Z was inducted last year.) "To be mentioned in the same breath as people I admire means everything to me," Dupri says, citing Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. as source of inspiration.
According to Dupri, the key to writing a hit song is to focus on the hook as the driving force. That's what he did when penning his first big record, Kriss Kross's 1992 breakout single "Jump." Dupri says he wrote the song in 30 minutes.
"It's a thing that happens where you start writing a song, it's a burning feeling that you have to finish it. Once I had the first verse, you don't want to hear the song incomplete," he explains. "I've written other songs just as fast, but that was the first time I had that feeling."
For Dupri, this Hall of Fame honor is special because it highlights a talent he feels he doesn't get enough credit for. He remembers being at a pool in Mexico and watching a pool full of people sing Usher's "You Make Me Wanna..." never realizing he wrote it.