Jay-Z’s status as a bonafide legend has been in the line of questioning recently. Following Billboard top 50 greatest rappers list– which Jay-Z topped – some felt as though it wasn’t necessarily an accurate reflection. Others felt there was an East Coast bias due to the exclusion of legends from other regions. Big Gipp recently explained how he felt as though Jay-Z wasn’t as big as 50 Cent or DMX in their prime.
It seems as though the sentiment regarding Jay extends across the South. Though NYC is the mecca of hip-hop, cities like Atlanta developed their own sound that spoke to their experiences. That said, Jay-Z apparently struggled to gain prominence in the South during the late 90s and early 2000s. Dupri sat down on the I Am Athlete podcast where he said that Southern rap fans weren’t familiar with Jay-Z. “People that worked for me back then, I was telling them ‘yo listen, there’s rappers in New York that n****s in Atlanta don’t never hear,” he said.
Jermaine Dupri Says “Money Ain’t A Thang” Helped Jay-Z Pop Down South
J.D. explained that strip clubs largely dictated the music that played in Atlanta. Through this environment, fans found music that reflected the regional sound more than anything. He said even Jay-Z wasn’t necessarily receiving much play in these spaces in Atlanta until they worked together on “Money Ain’t A Thang.” “I got n****s from my hood that didn’t never listen to Jay-Z til’ I made ‘Money Ain’t A Thang.’ This is people that told me this, not me. That’s not me saying this,” he said.
He continued, “I knew who Jay-Z was or I wouldn’t have put him on my song. I’m saying that to say I knew who Jay-Z was, but the area, right?”He related this to the brief debacle surrounding 21 Savage, who claimed that Nas wasn’t relevant. JD said he wasn’t shocked by what 21 said because he knew that a lot of people in Atlanta aren’t listening to music outside of their environment. “When you walk outside and you hear these cars driving down the street they not playing Nas. They playing whatever the ghetto n**** is that’s hot right now,” he added. Check the clip above.