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Acclaimed producer Jermaine Dupri has a new take on remixes: He’s giving ice cream a vegan makeover.
The Grammy-winning producer and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee is known for his musical collaborations, that span from Mariah Carey and Monica to TLC and Jay-Z. Now, he’s dropping a different kind of flavor.
JD’s Vegan Ice Cream, is a new line of frozen vegan desserts available on Walmart.com and arriving in stores this month, just ahead of the holidays. Named after seminal Jermaine Dupri songs, flavors include “Strawberry Sweetheart” (a nod to Mariah Carey’s “Sweetheart”), “Chocolate My Way” (after Usher’s “My Way”) and “Welcome to Atlanta Peach Cobbler” (in honor of the 2002 club banger with Ludacris).
A four-pack of JD’s Vegan Ice Cream retails for under $30 (for four pints) and everything is shipped frozen and directly to your door.
Dupri, who has been vegan for close to two decades, says he was motivated to start the line of gluten-free, plant-based and non-GMO frozen desserts because of a lack of quality vegan options. “A lot of people who are involved in the vegan brands are not vegan,” the famed producer says. “I don’t know how people who are not vegan can be trustworthy in this space for us. I felt it was important for somebody like myself to produce something.”
The project, about two years in the making, began with questions about Dupri’s favorite flavors. One of the first flavors he developed was inspired by apple butter. “I’ve never seen apple butter ice cream before,” Dupri says. “I don’t know if it exists but it will. If we see more apple butter ice cream, it means they got it from me.”
The ice creams, which have a rich, silky mouthfeel and vibrant pops of fruit flavors, are designed to appeal to all consumers, including the non-vegans. “My daughter is not a vegan and she loves the chocolate,” Dupri notes. “It’s important that it plays to both sides. The non-vegans taste it and say, ‘It can’t be vegan.’ The vegans taste it and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m glad that you made this.’”
Dupri, who has worked with major rap and R&B stars steadily since the early Nineties, is still at work on the music front. This month, he debuts a new single with emerging Tampa rapper, LA The Goat. Dupri teamed up with Ari Lennox on “Pressure,” an oil-slick neo-soul lick that easily coasted to Top 10 status following its September debut. Additionally, there are new songs to come, JD teases, with Anthony Hamilton, Nickelodeon child stars Lala and Young Dillon, and country artist Colt Ford.
And yet, despite his own prodigious work and all the varied ways people can find music now, Dupri worries that fans, especially younger ones, aren’t exposed to new music enough.
“I don’t believe that people listen to new music as much as they used to,” he says. “The streaming services are boxing people into listening to a certain number of records.” He points out that fans discover new music via curated playlists, which are often limited to established names. Even when driving, fans will opt for their own selected playlists, missing out of the serendipity that comes from radio.
His solution? Bring back the radio mix show to cultural prominence (think of Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex and DJ Stack’s shows. he says). “On the rap side, radio mix shows used to introduce way more music than what’s being introduced now,” Dupri says. “I feel like that’s something we have to come back to again.”