Jermaine Dupri made it clear in his documentary “Power, Influence and Hip-Hop: The Remarkable Rise of So So Def” that he keeps his nose out of his famous pals’ personal business. And that goes for when Da Brat was hauled off to prison for aggravated assault over a decade ago.
Brat was sentenced to serve three years behind bars after she struck a woman in the face with a rum bottle at an Atlanta-area nightclub in 2007. The incident occurred at Dupri’s now-shuttered Studio 72 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The waitress suffered numerous cuts and permanent scars as a result.
But during Brat’s prison stint, which ended in 2011, Dupri, who discovered the “Funkdafied” rapper in the 1990s, never visited her.
“I completely chop it down the middle,” he explained to Atlanta Black Star in July of his philosophy with his artists, which include Xscape and Usher. “This is the studio, this is what’s going on. Your personal life, that’s you.”
Specifically addressing Da Brat’s prison time, Dupri said seeing her behind bars wasn’t an image he wanted to have.
“I just didn’t want to see her in jail,” he says. “I feel like when you poison yourself mentally that’s what you start thinking about. Now that Brat’s out, I don’t even think about her going to jail. She’s out, she’s around me, we’re kicking it, drinking, partying, having a good time.
“It don’t even really hit me until watching the doc that she was gone for two years,” he adds. “And I feel like a lot of times we smother ourselves in that negativity and you can’t never get away from it at that point. The person come out and you talking about jail, person come out and telling jail stories. That’s not something to be doing. Move forward. Brat, she damn near got five TV shows. Let’s talk about that. Let’s keep it moving.”
Dupri said while he never visited Da Brat in prison, he spoke to her often and tried to obtain lawyers to assist her, but they were unable to.
“I felt helpless, too,” Dupri admitted. “I felt like, ‘Man, I can’t even do nothing for you.’ … I felt like me coming to jail would make her feel even worse because it’s like I gotta leave you. I’m the person that changed her life, so I gotta leave you in here? You gon’ really feel bad if you see me come back in here.”
Click below to see more from ABS’ exclusive sit-down with Dupri.