Jermaine Dupri — superproducer, rapper, and the boyfriend of Janet Jackson — has confirmed to The Associated Press that he has quit as a top executive at Jackson's label, Virgin Records, amid disappointing sales of Jackson's new album.
"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, just last year. His abrupt departure comes after the underwhelming performance of Jackson's latest release, "20 Y.O."
Jackson's album failed to debut at the top of the charts last month, then steadily fell to her current No. 19 position on the Billboard 200. 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.
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 her comeback. He also was a top producer on Usher's eight-million selling "Confessions" album.