CD Release - J.D.'s revenge

Dupri misses with The Hits

Jermaine Dupri is one of the most successful producers of the decade. He's won countless industry awards; scored dozens of R&B, pop and rap hits; launched several careers, from Kris Kross to Bow Wow; and turned his So So Def record label into a multimillion-dollar brand. When fans list the best superproducers of the era, however — Timbaland, the Neptunes, Kanye West — Dupri's name is rarely mentioned. He never forgets the slight.

Recently, Dupri told Vibe magazine, "I'm programmed to think nobody in the industry likes me." He's made dozens of such comments over the years, frustrated that he doesn't get more respect. When tourists from around the world enter Atlanta on I-75/85, they see a huge yellow billboard that reads, "Welcome to Atlanta," and the famous So So Def logo. How much bigger does Dupri have to get?

Y'all Know What This Is... The Hits, which collects 11 of his biggest hits, illustrates Dupri's strengths and weaknesses. He knows how to elicit great performances from stars, such as Mariah Carey on "We Belong Together" and Jay-Z on "Money Ain't a Thang." And he has a great ear for standout choruses, such as Usher's vocal runs on "Confessions Part II."

Dupri is a producer in the classic sense of the term. He works with a team of writers and musicians who write lyrics and compose tracks, and he weaves all the disparate parts into a marketable whole that draws a wide audience. Rap fans like producers who make great and distinctive beats, though, and Dupri isn't really a beat maker. His tracks often sound like formulaic mush – with urbane keyboard lines and muddy bass notes – that's far less interesting than the vocalists who sing and rap over them. Dupri can also be something of a hack, too, cranking out lame R&B songs for a quick buck. Y'all Know What This Is... The Hits has a few of those, including Chingy's predictable rap ballad "Pullin' Me Back."

Clocking in at less than 40 minutes, Y'all Know What This Is... The Hits' disposability doesn't summarize, yet exemplifies, Dupri's long career. Much of his most memorable work, such as Jagged Edge's "Where the Party At?", "Let's Get Married" and Carey's "My Baby," is absent. It's another bland Dupri product that won't earn him any respect.