"Since there are so many rumors running rampant about my position at Virgin Records, I feel that it is necessary to set the record straight," Dupri said Wednesday in a statement released to the AP. "I was not forced out of the company. I made a decision that it was in my best interest to leave."
Dupri became head of urban music at Virgin, a unit of EMI Group PLC, last year. His abrupt departure comes after the underwhelming performance of Jackson's latest release, "20 Y.O." Dupri was an executive producer of the record and helped determine its creative vision, along with Jackson and her longtime producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Jackson's album failed to debut at the top of the charts last month, then steadily fell. It has sold 443,000 copies since its release Sept. 26, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Jackson's 2001 album, "All for You," debuted at No. 1 with more than 605,000 copies sold in a single week.
Coming after the flat performance of 2004's "Damita Jo" and Jackson's infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, "20 Y.O." was seen as an opportunity for Jackson to re-establish herself as the multiplatinum hitmaker she has been for most of her 20-year-plus career.
Dupri, who declined further comment on his departure, has produced a multitude of hits for other artists, most notably last year for diva Mariah Carey. His work on her multiplatinum, Grammy-winning "The Emancipation of Mimi" was widely credited as being a chief reason for Carey's comeback. He also was a top producer on Usher's eight-million selling "Confessions" album.
By Nekesa Mumbi Moody