Jermaine Dupri Got Boss Advice From A Surprising Source
Greg Noire

LISTEN to Jermaine’s episode of ESSENCE Podcast Network’s UnBossed Podcast here:

What does it really take to become a boss and get the recognition you deserve? Writer, rapper, producer, and music executive Jermaine Dupri kept it 100, when digging into the answer to just that.

Dupri credits his father, Michael Mauldin—a veteran Columbia Records executive who shaped some of the greatest names in music—with teaching him the basics of being a boss.

“When I was super young… that’s [when] I got to be more with my dad and watch him do what he do. But it was more or less about his relationships at that point,” Dupri reminisced with UnBossed host, Marquita Harris at the 2019 ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.

“He was working with multiple artists that were in the city, like the S.O.S Band and the Brick, Peabo Bryson and just… different relationships, that’s [what] I watched. I think I gained some of that from him. It’s just being able to be in the presence of everybody.”

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NEW YORK, NY – JULY 11: Jermaine Dupri at Build Studio on July 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Mendez/Getty Images)

Dupri’s knack for growing relationships and artists has garnered international renown and classic collaborations with some of the biggest bosses in the business…like legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin.

In this episode, the music legend gives an honest look into:


“Aretha, she let me know. ‘You’re the producer. I’m the singer.’ She’s like, ‘If you ain’t going to say nothing, I’m going to go home and cook.’ And I was like, “Oh, okay.” She didn’t want me to treat her like Aretha Franklin, she wanted me to treat her like I just met her and tell her exactly what I wanted. And that put me in my mindset to know that when I’m in the studio, no matter who I’m in the studio with, that’s my position.”


 ” …If you feel like you need to tell people you have value, then you haven’t done enough. That’s just what I think. You haven’t shown them your value.” He continues, “I’ve been in that position before where I felt like people don’t appreciate the person that I am. And I had to ask myself, “What am I doing? What am I not doing to show people who [I am]?” And at that time I found that I was being too mysterious about what it is that I do.”


“It was like one thing that led to the next. I started dancing first and then the dancing led to me just learning music, but then it was like a time period. I had all these ideas and I was asking people to do things for me and they weren’t bringing it to life the way I wanted it to happen. That just drove me insane and they showed me to basically start doing it myself.”

You can hear the full episode of ESSENCE Podcast Network’s UnBossed on Apple PodcastsSpotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts.