So So Def All-Star 20th Anniversary Concert

Jermaine Dupri recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his pioneering record label, So So Def, but in an interview with Black Enterprise, explains how arrogance cost him success.

On the mistake of fleeing Columbia Records:

“Being young and arrogant and getting in a room where I had business with people that I didn’t take seriously enough cost me. There were times I was pretty arrogant early on, stepping away from situations because I got frustrated. When I left Columbia Records [in 2002] I probably should have stayed there. The relationship that we had was beautiful. The artists that came out were all successful. There was just that one particular point of time that I felt that we weren’t having that same movement and it was frustrating me and I was letting other things influence me.

I was going to other labels’ parties and seeing things that I thought Columbia should be doing and I should have just probably not had such an ego and stuck around. Then I probably wouldn’t have had a separation from some of my artists. That’s the biggest setback to me — leaving an artist at one of these labels. It kills the momentum of what you’re building.”

On his biggest success:

“Becoming the president of Virgin Records’ [Urban Division] was my biggest business success because it was a job a lot of people thought was a death trap for me. A lot of people thought because Virgin Records wasn’t the label that everybody was going to at the time — it wasn’t Universal, Def Jam or Sony — that I was putting myself in a place where I wasn’t going to have success. I felt like everybody was looking at me like, ‘Jermaine, you’re killing yourself. You’re going to a part that’s dark and you ain’t gonna make it light.’ There was so much dirt thrown when I took that job.

But that was the first time that I actually chose to be a president like that — to run a company — so it was a big deal for me. I’m pleased with the outcome. I know what my track record was and I know what I did there. [Having been president] you’ll always have that [increased] sense of confidence to make your next move.”

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