"I’m really speechless that the song was able to connect to so many different people."


His Production of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” Cited as Decade's Most Popular Song
Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” the second single from her 2005 comeback album, The Emancipation of Mimi, and a two-time Grammy winner, was recently named the most popular song of the last decade, based on record sales, airplay and online streaming. The pop ballad was produced by Jermaine Dupri, who was brought in by IDJ’s L.A. Reid after the album was practically finished, to craft a few more songs, including “We Belong Together,” a hip-hop ballad that helped the album go on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide. Dupri fills in HITS’ own last-minute addition, Roy Trakin, on the details.

Did you feel any pressure when you were brought aboard to work with Mariah?
Not at all… This was part of a second batch of songs we worked on when she did come back. We wrote it together. Most of the time when I make records with Mariah, I basically write them while she’s there in the studio. She’s a super-prolific writer. And that’s how we’ve always collaborated. She gives me the vibe for the kind of record she’s looking for, then we start playing different chords and keys to see where we’re headed.

She took more of a natural vocal approach.
There are people who think she’s singing as hard as she ever did, because they hadn’t heard her like that in a long time.

Who had the idea for the lyrical references to Bobby Womack and [L.A. Reid and Babyface band] The Deele?
Bobby Womack was my idea, but the Babyface thing came from [co-writer] Johnta [Austin]. I’m sure we would have never put those in there, if we knew they’d be getting writers’ credit. I never realized that just mentioning someone’s name warrants 1% or 2%. I’m going to go back and listen to see how many people say, “Jermaine Dupri.”

Did you realize at first how popular it would be?
The first two we did, “It’s Like That” and “Get Your Number,” were more uptempo. When we got back together in the studio, my idea was, let’s try some ballads this time—let’s flip the switch. We put a condenser mic in the studio so we could record every idea we came up with. When we went to play it back, you could hear the song coming to life. I cut the vocal myself at first, and she followed my direction to a “T.”

It crossed over to every audience.
I’m really speechless that the song was able to connect to so many different people. My style of production does not sound like pop music when you first hear it. Fortunately, they end up going that way. I had no idea what it was going to do; I just knew it was a good Mariah record. In my mind, it doesn’t sound like the song of the decade—it’s too different. It doesn’t sound like anything else.

What are you working on now?
I have a new R&B artist named Dondria, who has this song “You’re the One,” which just entered the charts.