Dupri leaving Virgin urban gig

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Jermaine Dupri, Virgin Records president of urban music and a top R&B and hip-hop producer, said Tuesday that he is exiting the EMI Music company.

"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 told the Associated Press. "I was not forced out of the company, I made a decision that it was in my best interest to leave."

A well-placed source did not discount reports that Dupri will start up a custom label within the EMI family.

An EMI spokeswoman said the company had no comment.

Dupri's departure from Virgin follows disappointing sales of the album "20 Y.O." by the label's longtime star Janet Jackson, who also is Dupri's girlfriend. Dupri served as executive producer on the album. This week, the collection loses nine positions on the Billboard 200, sinking to No. 28 in just its fourth chart week; according to Nielsen SoundScan figures, it has sold only 443,000 copies to date — a far cry from the 605,000 units Jackson's 2001 album "All for You" sold in its debut week alone.

Dupri was installed as head of Virgin's then-new urban division in January 2005 (HR 1/25/05). In 2004, he crafted the multiplatinum Usher album "Confessions." He was also a key player in Mariah Carey's 2005 comeback set "The Emancipation of Mimi." Dupri arrived at Virgin after more than a decade of hit production work, for both his own label So So Def Records and as a freelancer, for Kris Kross, Xscape, Da Brat, Jagged Edge, Bow Wow and Anthony Hamilton. He also worked with such stars as TLC, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Jay-Z, Chingy and Ludacris.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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