Written by | Ray Cornelius
My first event of the New Year was held Friday night and what a great time I had! It was Jermaine Dupri‘s private screening for his new Lifetime reality series “The Rap Game.” The VIP party was held at Atlanta’s Suite Food Lounge and was packed with local media, music industry professionals and performers as well as a few of Dupri’s close friends including Da Brat, Johnta Austin, and Brian Michael Cox. It was also co-presented by Atlanta’s big station V-103 and radio personality Greg Street.
“The Rap Game” follows five ambitious rappers, ages 12 to 16, who are competing for a recording contract with Dupri’s legendary So So Def label. The eight-week series features the music mogul and his team of celebrity influencers like Usher, T.I., and Ludacris molding and shaping these pre-teens into the next generation of hip-hop superstars. Dupri measures their weekly success through a Top 5 “Hit List.” The five hopefuls include Lil Poopy, Miss Mulatto, Supa Peach, Young Lyric, and Lil Niqo.
Jermaine Dupri addressing Atlanta press during Q&A
Dupri expressed his excitement for the project during a pre-show conversation and claims that he is following the same blue print of success that his idol Berry Gordy used for Motown stars Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Dupri hopes that the show will provide the artists with a larger platform considering many of them already have a strong social media following and fan base.
“They’re coming with fans already. But if I can help them to fix their skills or get their skills right before they put out a record then that seems like a win-win to me. That’s ultimately what I’m looking for…” said Dupri.
Jermaine Dupri with Da Brat
During the 1990’s, Dupri was Atlanta’s “go to guy” for emerging musical talent and was responsible for the careers of such teen sensations as Bow Wow, Usher, TLC, Kriss Kross, and Xscape. And while he has also produced chart-topping hits for some of the R&B biggest names like Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, he remains loyal his hip-hop roots because of its dominance in today’s pop culture.
“Everyone has changed everything to the word ‘hip-hop.’ Singers don’t even want to sing anymore, they all want to rap! We chose this group from thousands of kids out there with YouTube videos and their parents are doing what they’ve gotta do. I’m really just going with what’s happening with the times right now,” said Dupri.
“The Rap Game” airs Friday nights at 10 p.m. EST on Lifetime. Check out more photos below from the premiere party:
Jermaine Dupri with Johnta Austin and Brian Michael Cox texting
Miss Mulatto posing next to “The Rap Game” signage
Music and film star Jacob Latimore with R&B/Pop singer VEDO
Da Brat and her manager Lucy “Juice” Raoof
Nue Era – @Math_yuu, @King Imprint, @Kandi Reign, @TopNotch.sed and @Flyty_4evaaa
TV and radio personality JaQuitta Williams and Lucy “Juice” Raoof
Music group Final Draft
Miss Mulatto and VEDO
Jermaine Dupri‘s Dad Michael Mauldin and guest
SESAC’s Gregory Smith and his group 2-Crucial – Chez and JR
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com