The Songwriters Hall of Fame announced its 2018 inductees and Jermaine Dupri will be joining the ranks as the organization’s second hip-hop act, following JAY-Z in 2017. Dupri will be joining this year’s class alongside Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, and Alan Jackson. The Atlanta producer, responsible for helping forge the sounds of Xscape, Usher, and Mariah Carey took to social media to express his shock, screaming “ahhhh” at staggering octaves.
With over two decades of work, Dupri has left a heavy footprint in Atlanta’s soil, setting a precedent for much of the hip-hop and R&B to seep out of the region from the early 90s into the aughts. His label, So So Def Recordings, boasted a roster of talent including Xscape, Jagged Edge, and Dem Franchize Boyz that solidified Atlanta as a music mainstay, even after the foundation Babyface and L.A. Reid laid. This year, Dupri is celebrating 25 years of So So Def, and still working on finding the next big thing. The same spirit he used to mold the career of teenage rappers in Kriss Kross and Bow Wow is the same ear he uses on Oxygen’s The Rap Game, a reality show for aspiring adolescents.
Often times, Jermaine Dupri feels like a relic of simpler times in hip-hop, one who's name doesn't always enter your mind as you're ranking your top five producers or songwriters. His legacy extends beyond the "So, So, Def" tag you hear from that era, one that penned some of your favorite songs, even if he wasn't audible on the record. He's given us Usher's "Nice & Slow," Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby," and a favorite at weddings, Jagged Edge's "Let's Get Married." Much of Bow Wow's catalog is credited to JD's pen, and while his protege was a teenage phenom, the presence of that discography didn't age well.
Hip-hop's presence as a driving force of culture may have been ignored by The Grammys, but its recognition from the Songwriters Hall of Fame is reassuring. It's unbelievable that hip-hop is still experiencing "firsts," although the genre has proved itself to be way past a trend for the last forty years. Dupri's name alongside JAY-Z is what producers need for, so that the next generation of producers like Zaytoven, Metro Boomin', and Pi'erre Bourne get their accolades 20 years from now.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer at Noisey.