10/16/2007 AT 10:35 AM ET
In his dishy new memoir, Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of A Music Mogul, Jermaine Dupri looks back on his successful producing career and the big names he worked with – to say nothing of the one singer who stole his heart: Janet Jackson.
At Monday night’s Manhattan launch of the book, the 35-year-old hip-hop impresario and rapper, with a very svelte Jackson at his side, told PEOPLE: “I’m excited. I get to add the title ‘author’ to my titles, I guess. … I can’t wait to get to a bookstore and see it tomorrow.”
Besides Jackson – who said of her boyfriend’s book, “I think it’s awesome” – also at the hotspot Marquee to help celebrate the newly published author: rapper Nas and wife Kelis, Boyz II Men and Joey Fatone, who told PEOPLE, “I haven’t read the book, but I am excited to read it.”
When it comes to having Jackson, 41, with him on his big night, Dupri said that they’re always together, “so it’s meant to be. We just have fun.”
As for what’s next, Dupri said he’s about “to finish her album, finish Mariah’s album, finish Usher’s album. I just did two songs on Jay Z’s new album, Nelly, Murphy Lee. Just … planning for all these records to come out at the first of the year.”
In the meantime, there’s Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of A Music Mogul, excerpts from which follow here.
[In 1997] Usher was a far cry from the sex symbol he became. It was always in him. But that side of him was buried deep. Puberty had been rough on him. He had bad skin until my mom hooked him up with a dermatologist who could take care of his problem. He was spending so much time moped out and not working on himself that he was all skinny. All he ate was junk food. Usher could inhale a box of Krispy Kremes in less than an hour. He was living on greasy s— like burgers and fried chicken. When he came to my house my mom made us Sloppy Joes and he said he’d never had them before. Home cooking was such a treat, he grabbed the last one!
On Mariah Carey
Even though Mariah always considered herself to be first and foremost a black woman, everyone at the label was scared of her being too urban. She’s far from some ‘hood rat, but she’s definitely a lil’ ghetto and she was tired of being the “ballad queen.”
Gambling is how I bond with people. … Me and Jay-Z bet on basketball games all the time. One time I lost $15,000 to him. The next week, when he saw me backstage before a performance, the first thing he asked me was, ‘Where’s my money?’ I handed him over a fat wad of Benjamins and stood there while he counted. He ended up spraying most of the bills at the audience when he was onstage.
On Janet Jackson
Life with Janet is just real normal. When we hang out, we hang out at home. She’s a homebody. We don’t want to be out on the road all the time. … We drive around the city and watch people. We get take-out. We buy strawberry smoothies from Smoothie King. We watch our shows, The Sopranos and Entourage. If Jan’s around on weekends and holidays we hang out with my [9-year-old] daughter, Shaniah.
With additional reporting by HITHA PRABHAKAR