So So Def founder and music executive Jermaine Dupri has been credited for his achievements with several R&B and rap icons throughout his industry tenure, including Bow Wow, Mariah Carey, Nelly, Da Brat and Atlanta-raised singer Usher.
Though he’s famously known for his record-producing and label-house-pioneering talents, songwriting is one of his lesser-known talents to the general public outside of the industry. In a new Billboard interview, he sheds more light on his song penmanship and even reveals a fun fact about someone who helped shape this skill when he penned Usher’s “Confessions” single that fans might never have guessed: Jay-Z.
Dupri explained that the single actually had a different working title before they landed on “Confessions,” which was “All Bad.” The song shared the tale of a regrettable lover who came clean to his loyal girlfriend about all his dirt that he’d allowed to weigh so heavily on himself. Usher immediately fell in love with it, he said, and urged him to complete the story with a part two.
“And immediately, as soon as Usher said there’s a part two, my brain clicked and every word of ‘Confessions Part II’ flew out of my mouth,” JD continued.
The song took an hour to complete, a fairly small amount of time for a record as big as the early 2000s single. It also took a small amount of paperwork, too.
“It took about an hour, and the process was me saying the lyrics to him,” he recalled. “I stopped writing lyrics down on paper after me and Jay-Z did ‘Money in the Bank.’ They’re something I just hold in my mind. Jay-Z doesn’t write them down.”
As his memory serves him, he went to the studio and noticed Jay’s non-written process. When he asked Hov about it, his response was, “I wrote it, I just didn’t write it on paper.” This was something he admitted he’d never seen done before, and later realized that memorizing a song is far more natural.
“If you’re driving in the car, you don’t have the song lyrics in front of you but you hear a song on the radio and memorize it from that,” she said. “One hundred percent, we all do that. I haven’t written anything down since I started working with Jay-Z.”
It's the power of the Roc, folks.
Read his full Billboard interview below.
(Photos from left: Steve Granitz/WireImage, Monica Schipper/FilmMagic)