For years, many grew accustomed to Jermaine Dupri and Janet Jackson as a couple, but what most probably don’t know is the story of how they got together, and why, in 2009, their roughly eight-year relationship ended. In an interview for T.I.‘s “ExpidiTIously” podcast, Dupri shed light on the start and end of the two as a couple, and more.
Dupri shared — starting around the 47:14 mark of the talk — that he and Jackson met at one of her concerts inside the now-closed Omni Coliseum in Atlanta. He was with the group Kris Kross at the time, and hadn’t yet become the Jermaine Dupri who soon grew to great fame.
In fact, Jackson’s bodyguard wouldn’t let him enter a backstage area once Kriss Kross was let in to meet her. But he was eventually given access and met Jackson. From there, they got closer pretty much by chance.
“It became a situation where something that I was doing always kind of bled into her life,” he explained. “I had a stylist … she was Janet’s stylist.”
Dupri said he used to send messages to Jackson through that stylist, and she eventually sent messages back to him.
“She realized from that one time that she met me with Chris and Chris that I was a little bit more important than just the person that was supposed to be outside the door,” he explained. “I knew multiple other people, her friends, and she seen me doing other projects … So we became friends, I guess you wanna call it, I took my shot.”
Dupri said that he learned that Jackson didn’t have a two-way pager at the time, and he often got them for free. So he sent her one and she called him after receiving it, which brought them another step closer to becoming a couple.
Dupri suggested they hang out during that call, which they did. He also threw Jackson a birthday party in Miami after that phone conversation.
But once Dupri exposed the superstar singer to local Atlanta culture, they really began to click.
“I took her to Magic City … I exposed her to a lot of life that I didn’t even know I could expose a person to,” he told T.I. “You think when somebody is that famous, that rich, they know everything, they’ve seen everything. But it was a lot of world that we was living in here, cultural wise, that they hadn’t gotten in L.A. That’s where we basically started hitting it off. We were showing each other multiple things.”
Dupri explained why he and Jackson never got married after being together for so long.
“I started thinking like marriage for me [wasn’t going to work],” he said. “Just something about it. When you feel like you’re ready to get married, you don’t have no answers, you just know what it is … I was in the space … I felt married … We had an eight-year, nine-year relationship, but we didn’t live with each other… I feel like that’s a part where you really determine if you’re strong.”
Dupri added, “She wasn’t willing to move to Atlanta. She was willing to come out here for a couple of weeks. But living in Atlanta, for her, just didn’t really seem like L.A and me, I wasn’t ready to move to Malibu … I like it … It’s just something about being here.”
Similar to Dupri, Jackson hasn’t talked much about their time together, but she did mention their relationship in a 2009 interview with ABC.
Jackson said a lot of people thought she and Dupri were married, so she confirmed that was never the case. She also talked about spending much of her life being self-conscious about her weight, which is something Dupri helped her with.
“Just picking yourself apart all the time because you’re so used to being kind of picked apart,” she explained. ” ‘Oh, your butt’s too big,’ and ‘you’ve got too much meat here,’ ‘got too much this there’ … Well, now I know there’s nothing wrong with [my butt]. Thank you to Jermaine Dupri.”