Down Memory Lane: So So Def’s Biggest Contributions to Hip-Hop
Legendary hip-hop record label So So Def is BACK, per se. The label, headed by Jermaine Dupri, once consisted of renowed R&B group Xscape, female emcee Da Brat and groups such as Jagged Edge, Dem Franchise Boyz and 3LW.
Today, southern rap by artists like 2 Chainz, Trinidad James and Future dominates the genre, so it’s easy for people to forget when the invasion began. So So Def paved the way, and they will be holding an All-Star Anniversary on February 23 featuring some of their biggest names, including child prodigies, Kris Kross, who have aged quite a bit since their “Jump” days (as you can see by the photo above).
Here’s a look back at some of the label’s famous acts.
KRIS KROSS — “Jump”
Kris Kross’ introduction to mainstream came at a time when gangster rap dominated the hip-hop world. The rambunctious pre-teens’ song “Jump” has passed the test of time and has been used in movies such as Friends with Benefits, been the subject of countless covers by rappers like Remy Ma and is guaranteed to turn up any old school parties — or definitely a bar during peak drinking hours.
XSCAPE — “Understanding”
The ladies of Xscape paved the road for female R&B groups that reigned in the ’90s like Destiny’s Child, SWV and TLC (all based in the South). Xscape was also the first act Jermaine Dupri signed, and although today’s youth might know more about the artists Xscape influenced, we still get tastes of the group through reality TV. Group member Temeka “Tiny” Cottle, better known as T.I.’s wife, currently stars on VH1’s T.I. and Tiny, and Kandi Burruss stars on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta.
DA BRAT — “Funkdafied”
Da Brat might seem like a novelty now, but during her peak, she broke endless boundaries. In 1994, Da Brat became the FIRST female solo rap act to sell a million records. While that might not sound like anything in 2013, back in the ’90s, when female rappers weren’t as respected or well-received, this was quite the feat.
JAGGED EDGE — “Where The Party At”
If Jagged Edge didn’t soundtrack your love life, then they definitely soundtracked your party life. The urban equivalent of a boy band managed to have an eight-year reign in R&B and hip-hop music and brought us memorable songs like “Promise,” “Let’s Get Married,” “Walked out of Heaven” and “Trade it All” with the help of some serious promotion and young girls everywhere’s obsession with the group. Although they’re no longer as relevant as they used to be, people still recognize Jagged Edge’s music when it comes on during Throwback Thursdays.
BONE CRUSHER — “Never Scared”
In retrospect, Bone Crusher’s music was the spark of the braggadocio in southern hip-hop. This 2003 track was was hot in the ‘hood for its deep bass and aggressive delivery but also rang out in the suburbs during sporting events and inside locker rooms to get people hyped. Today, songs like these have become a dime a dozen, but “Never Scared” is still guaranteed to get you amped.
JERMAINE DUPRI & LUDACRIS — “Welcome To Atlanta”
One of the biggest songs to come from Jermaine Dupri was his collaboration with Ludacris, “Coming To Atlanta.” The ode is most known for the original music video, which featured a long list of celebrities that hail from Atlanta, including Usher, T.I., Monica, Blaque, Evander Holyfield and Lil Jon, as well as a tour through various neighborhoods in the ATL. The hook from this song remains as one of the most infectious in hip-hop and should probably get updated by the rappers who command the genre now.
J-KWON — “Tipsy”
J-Kwon didn’t own the charts for very long, but if So So Def was known for anything, it was overshadowing other artists with their top hits. The only reason “Tipsy” didn’t hit No.1 on the Billboard charts was because fellow southern artist Usher had released “Yeah!” with Lil Jon. “Tipsy,” like tons of other So So Def jams, still makes its way into today’s pop culture references, the most recent being its use in Project X.