Excuse me while I laugh.
Janet Jackson's boyfriend, producer Jermaine Dupri, is out at Virgin Records.
Dupri was head of urban music at Virgin. But late yesterday, according to my sources, Dupri quit—i.e. was forced out—after disappointing sales of Jackson's comeback album called "20 YO."
Three weeks into its release, the album is a dud with less than 500,000 copies sold. I told you in this space last week, before anyone else, that the CD had dropped an astonishing 77 percent in sales in its second week.
For Jackson, this is especially painful since '20 YO' was the last album on her Virgin contract. She now faces the task of negotiating a new deal with little leverage.
Dupri was partially responsible along with Randy Jackson ("American Idol" fame, not the brother) for making Mariah Carey's "Emancipation of Mimi" album a monster hit. With Janet, he opted to make her into something she couldn't be at age 40—a hip hop diva—rather than present her as an adult star. Kids did not flock to her, and adults didn't want to hear it.
There was talk of Mariah possibly re-recording one of the '20 YO' songs with Janet to resuscitate the album. But with Dupri gone, '20 YO' will probably just get written off as a mistake now. This will leave Jason Flom, head of Virgin, to rebuild the urban department at the label—something I'm told he's been itching to do since he took over last year.
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